March 02, 2006

A Totem Eclipse of the Heart

When you're seeing a place from a tourist's perspective, it's hard not to end up in a bunch of museums. Thus was my trip out west.

My first 'museum' was the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, an unassuming, by-donation educational centre about a twenty-minute drive from the city. Lynn Canyon Park is a pretty little bundle of waterfalls, dotted through a forest of inconceivably tall trees; but its main attraction is the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, strung swayingly across the canyon like something out of an Indiana Jones movie (although, way more structurally sound, obviously). As you leave the park, you're directed by signs to the ecology centre, where you can peruse a sizeable gift shop and learn about the dangers of consumerism to the environment (Dustin did a computerised quiz and learnt that if everybody shared his lifestyle, we would need 4.2 earths to sustain the population-- after that, I was too scared to take the quiz myself).

Pretty much every museum in BC seems to have either an exhibit about environmental conservation, or about totem poles. Many have both. To wit: the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, which has both a massive exhibition of Northwest Coast art and culture (including a real-life, reconstructed-in-the-museum, Kwakiutl house), and, one floor down, a video of Rick Mercer telling us to take better care of the planet.

Actually, though, the Royal Museum was my favourite out of everything I saw. The exhibits were wonderfully detailed and carefully maintained, and were interesting enough that they kept my attention, even after a week of learning about totem poles and the environment. They also had a fantastic temporary exhibition of Linda McCartney's photography-- my favourite part was a photograph of a black entertainer who had run for President in the 70s, on the platform of "painting the White House black".

Back in Vancouver, I also visited the Vancouver Art Gallery, which had a nice blend of contemporary exhibits and classical paintings (and paintings of totem poles); the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (almost entirely totem poles); and the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, where I saw a beluga whale for the first time, and watched a dolphin pee (and learnt about the importance of environmental conservation-- see what I mean? There were also some totem poles outside).

And, on that note, so ends another instalment of my trip to BC.

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Because everyone else is doing it:

Friday, March 3rd, at noon: come to VAGANZA VI, McGill Improv's annual 24-hour comedy show! It's on the second floor of the Shatner building, 3480 McTavish Street, runs straight through until noon on Saturday, March 4th. Admission is $3 for students and $5 for non-students, and all profits will go to a local charity.

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