It's unclear why whales jump and splash on the surface of the ocean. It could be to get attention from potential mates, or a way to lose the parasites on their backs. But it is also possible that the whales are simply having fun. From the vantage point of a 65-foot whale-watching vessel, guests of Jamie's Whaling Station & Adventure Centres can observe grey and humpback whales in their natural environment, while forming their own hypotheses about their mystifying behaviour.
In addition to whale-watching trips, Jamie's leads bear-watching tours, tours to Hot Springs Cove, kayaking adventures, group hikes, and sunset cruises to find out where the sun really goes at night. A portion of proceeds from all tours supports local wildlife research and rescue programs.
Today, “1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are threatened with extinction.” But collective efforts and targeted conservation can help save them. Conservationists Gord and Yvonne Blankstein truly believe in these restorative efforts, and they founded Mountain View Conservation & Breeding Centre in 1986 to help rare and exotic species breed, learn calculus, and return to the wild. From its 300-acre campus in the Fraser Valley, Mountain View safeguards several species, including some of the most endangered wildlife species in British Columbia—the Northern spotted owl and the Vancouver Island marmot–along with 35 species of exotic birds breeding at the conservatory. Once animals can survive, staff members return them to their natural habitats around North America. Mountain View also sponsors educational tours of its facility to raise awareness about conserving wildlife and natural habitats.
Rustic wood cabins interconnected by wooden walkways stand amid a network of fountains, mountain streams, and small waterfalls. Dense forest and blooms of emerald ferns spread out in all directions. The train whistle and drum beats echo through the trees. At Klahowya Village in Stanley Park, natural scenery opens up to authentic representations of British Columbia's First Nations and Métis cultures through its attractions, performances, and artisan marketplace. As guests arrive, knowledgeable First Nations guides in native dress usher guests into the park, where they can start by taking in the sights or boarding the miniature covered Spirit Catcher train for storytelling journeys past forest tableaus.
Young dancers and actors in traditional dress stage cultural performances every Friday through Sunday throughout the summer, and coffee by Spirit Bear Coffee Company keeps visitors warm year-round. In the indoor marketplace, First Nations and Métis artisans proffer pieces of handmade visual art, jewellery, apparel, and other crafts. The nonprofit Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia operates the park as part of its aim to create a sustainable and educational showcase of Aboriginal culture for visitors and local residents.
In the verdant Cowichan Valley, Pacific Northwest Raptors cares for a diverse flock of birds of prey—owls twist their heart-shaped heads curiously, and hawks look on with eyes like copper coins. The staff provides them a safe habitat while educating the public about their habits, hunting methods, and favourite brands of feather cosmetics. Eagles and falcons ride warm zephyrs overhead daily, searching for prey high over the canopy when they aren’t perched back at the centre.
Avian experts demo the birds’ skills during walks, which include the opportunity for patrons to have a hawk or owl land on a gloved hand or already impressive jaw line. Intensive workshops and week-long falconry courses let guests settle in with the animals beneath the towering trees, which hush each other liltingly in the wind. Regular family events at the centre facilitate bonding with the regal raptors, many of which are trained in film work and pest control.
When doctors told Joey and Darryl Simon that their son Jet’s premature birth could result in learning disabilities, the couple immersed him in the world of art as a means of helping him overcome any educational obstacles. Their tutelage and care paid off, resulting in an impressive array of paintings from their child at a very young age. Jet’s talent and creativity inspired his parents to establish 4Cats Arts Studio in hopes of unleashing the inner artists of other children as well as adults. The Simons accomplish this mission through hands-on sessions in mixed media, painting, and Artist Focus classes, which concentrate on the histories and styles of certain artists, such as Picasso’s cubism and Andy Warhol’s self-portraits of soup cans.
When Craig Schindle worked the front door of the Harrison Springs Resort & Spa, visitors would often ask him for suggestions of family-friendly activities to do on the lake. Inspired, Craig bought two motorized Sea-Doo watercrafts, and Harrison Watersports Inc. was born.
Today, Schindle's fleet has expanded to nine Sea-Doos, two high-end ski boats, and a variety of recreational bumper boats and banana tubes. These watercrafts glide across the pristine waters of Harrison Lake, known for its vistas of sandy shores, snow-capped mountains, and colonies of runaway middle-school history teachers. On an inflatable waterpark that floats atop another part of the lake, visitors can scamper across obstacle courses, careen down slides, and cannonball into cool waters.
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