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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

Ever since the birth of our grandson, Victoria has been a second home. Although our visits are usually confined to indoor cuddle time, during this trip we decide to take him to a few visitors' haunts. And while strapped into his snuggly, wee Keegan gets to be a tourist in his home town.

Our babe is wide-eyed when posing with a Woolly Mammoth

He receives his first history lesson as we stroll through the acclaimed Royal BC Museum. Over seven million specimens and artifacts are behind the scenes in collections, with many key items on display in the impressive 26,000 square foot treasure trove. Passing through realistic re-creations, we journey from the ice age, where Woolly Mammoths once roamed the earth, to the present day ecosystems of our dewy forests and coastline. Monumental totems are highlights in The First Peoples' Gallery. A dazzling display of fossils, reptiles and insects is presented in the Natural History Gallery. And while meandering through storefront facades in the Modern History Gallery, we retrace B.C.'s timeline back to the 1700s.

"Things sure have changed since those days," my retired teacher/husband says, when peering into St. Ann's tiny one room schoolhouse that's located right next to the museum. I glance over at my quiet grandson, and notice that he's fallen fast asleep in class.

Not wanting to wake our sleeping boy, we bypass the museum's IMAX, a six-story-high theatre with surround-sound. Although it would clearly heighten our boomer senses, it might arouse our grandbaby from blissful slumber -a definite no-no!

Babbles and coos while ambling through Victoria Art Gallery

Instead, we infuse him with a taste of culture at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Seven separate galleries in this vibrant venue are home to nearly 18,000 objects d'art. While ambling past the varied collection of Canadian, historical and Asian works, Keegan babbles and coos, as if giving his two cents worth. He really perks up in the Emily Carr exhibit. And who wouldn't? This Canadian icon of the arts captured BC landscapes in a unique way and was equally talented with the pen. Excerpts from The Book Of Small, and her other six manuscripts, can be viewed nearby, in her childhood home. The simple abode is certainly no mansion, but the next baby/boomer attraction on our list sure is!

Everyone likes snooping through a castle. Apart from the moat and drawbridge, Craigdarroch boasts all the citadel traits: turrets, towers, gothic chimneys-quite the contrasting architecture to its modern day neighbors!

Posing with Keegan in front of Craigdarroch Castle

"It reminds me of the Addams Family," I say, while posing with Keegan for a photo moment. Although the impressive structure could easily serve as a set for the 1991 comedy flick, this former home of Joan Dunsmuir is the real McCoy. But unlike most castle-type fairy tales, this one doesn't have a happy ending. Joan's wealthy coal baron hubby, Robert Dunsmuir, died in 1889, a year before the castle was completed. Joan was persuaded to hand over most of the dealings to her two boys. In 1900, one of them died. The other fought for his brother's share of the estate. And after a family riff, Joan sued him and won. She died in 1908 leaving the entire sum to her five surviving daughters and three other heirs. Sans son!

The 39-room, 26,000 square foot manor, is decked out with imported white oak and one of Canada's finest collections of stained and leaded glass. Lavish décor, period pieces and fine paintings are topped off with coiffed ceilings. And eighty-seven stairs escalate four and a half floors to a view-boasting tower. "Quite the lifestyle," I mutter in awe, while gazing over the panorama of Victoria. "Quite the workout," Brent responds, while looking down at the added weight that's cradled in his arms.

Checking out the world's largest totem pole

Our leisurely pace continues during one final attraction-a stroll through Beacon Hill Park. One might wonder what the allure is for children here. Although the flower-bordered footpaths weaving throughout its 24.8 verdant hectares (62 acres) are eye-catching, and looking up at the world's largest totem pole at 39 meters (27 ft) may make you feel woozy, they won't likely be on the must-see kid list. Maybe the pretty peacocks, adventure playground and water park will be. If not, undoubtedly the petting zoo will. Bleating sheep, braying alpacas, hee-hawing donkeys -wander alongside pot-bellied pigs, ducks and goats. We hear and pet them all. It's too bad we can't say the same for Keegan. After this day of family fun stuff, he's all about the snooze.

A little shut eye when having face-to-face goat time at the petting zoo


More information: Tourism Victoria
Where to stay: The Magnolia Hotel & Spa Tel: 250-381-0999;

Getting there: BC Ferries: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779) from anywhere in North America

PHOTOS by Brent Cassie
1.Our babe is wide-eyed when posing with a Woolly Mammoth
2. Babbles and coos while ambling through Victoria Art Gallery
3. Posing with Keegan in front of Craigdarroch Castle
4 Checking out the world's largest totem pole
5. A little shut eye when having face-to-face goat time at the petting zoo

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