May 26, 2016

Meet Skye: Passionate writer, devoted shirtwaist dress fan, and epic vintage hat lover!

May is nearing its end and summer is rearing to round the bend, ready to brighten - quite literally - our lives once more. At the moment though, we're still enjoying the final weeks of spring and as such, it's time to hop right into May's edition of our fun Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger ongoing interview post series.

Today I'm deeply honoured to have the opportunity to interview none other than Skye from the bracingly wonderful vintage fashion blog, My Kingdom for a Hat. I've been an ardent follower of Skye's blog since discovering it quite some time ago now and greatly appreciate the wit, intellect, and creative flare that she brings to both her writing and her wardrobe choices.

Skye and I share numerous points in common, from a mad love of shirtwaist dresses (the size of her collections smokes mine out of the water!) and vintage hats, Halloween, great books, writing, sporting crimson hued locks, and so much more.

A fascinating, charismatic woman, Skye's honest opinions, exciting ensembles, and stunning yesteryear hats make following her blog a joy of no small magnitude, and really am pleased as can be that she was keen to take part in this series and share so much about herself with us here this month.

Grab your favourite springtime beverage, pull up a cozy seat and join me in to getting to know more about Skye, as we discuss everything from Flannery O'Connor novels to her love of Maleficent, and of course old school chapeaus in spades, too!

Welcome, Skye! For those who are just having the pleasure of meeting you and your vintage blog, My Kingdom for a Hat, for the first time, could you please tell us when your site launched and what inspired its lovely name?

I made my first post on May 2nd, 2012. It was finals season, so what else would I do, in a fit of procrastinatory pique, but start a blog? I'd been sharing my outfits on Facebook for a few months, and I decided it was time for a proper home. The blog was called Color Me Brazen then, a name I kept for almost a year. I've been My Kingdom for a Hat since March 2013. It's a pun on Shakespeare's, "my kingdom for a horse".

Let’s talk vintage hats then, shall we? What sorts of things draw you to a given hat? How often do you tend to wear one?

I wear a hat - or a headscarf, if it's hot - every day. I'm fondest of pillbox and calot styles. Anything that requires pins, really - I love that unmistakably vintage look. Impracticality delights me. Beads, feathers, veils - bring me form over function, every time.

Do you share my perpetual sense of bewilderment (even though I do fully understand the plethora of reasons why such is the case) over the fact that most people willing gave up the wearing of fashionable hats with nary a hint of protest, and, to your mind, what was the leading cause (or causes) for the demise of this thoroughly marvelous accessory?

I know this one! Western fashion, through the 20th century, was basically a march from style to substance. A hundred years ago, people either made their own clothes or had them tailored. Ready-to-wear garments didn't exist on any meaningful scale until the 1920s.

As they became more common, people's tastes grew progressively more casual, and that's about when we dispensed with hats, gloves, etc. People didn't want to spend time and money on non-functional accessories, and I can't say I blame them! I enjoy the ritual of lacing my corset and pinning on my hat just right, but it's definitely not for everyone.

We share an unfettered passion for shirtwaist dresses. What is it in particular about this deeply classic style of garment that appeals to you?

I'm the laziest seamstress ever, and a full skirt/fitted bodice dress is easiest to sew. But really, I'm just a hedonist. I'm very sensory, and swishing about in several yards of fabric is pure luxury.

As I’m sure inquiring minds may wish to know, how many would you say you own at present?

Oh lord - 50? 60? I did an inventory recently, but I turn over my stock a lot. I'm always sewing new things and selling old ones.

What decades do you find yourself most drawn to from a fashion standpoint? Do these differ from, or jive with, the ones that you yourself currently wear?

I find the 1910s and '20s incredibly interesting. I don't think people fully realize that history isn't a linear trip from oppressive to progressive, and the early 20th century shows us that. Women then had more freedom, in some ways, than women 30 years later! Flappers' fashions would make their granddaughters blush. I mostly wear '40s and '50s, though. As much as I love the Roaring Twenties, I'm not quite comfortable in above-knee skirts.

In addition to awesome vintage hats, what are some “must have” yesteryear accessories in your books?

Curlers! I've almost gotten used to sleeping on them. And gloves, of course, though adapting them for modern day is hard. Ladies of old didn't interact with technology the way we do. Try texting with satin fingertips...

And speaking of things pertaining to books, you’re a passionate writer, can please tell us more about the roll(s) in which writing currently plays in your career and daily life alike?

I am always writing. When I don't have pen and paper, I'm texting myself story ideas. When I don't have my phone, I'm whispering them under my breath, trying to commit them to memory. It's in my blood. I taught myself to read and write when I was four, and I wouldn't even know how to stop. I finished three novels before I graduated from high school, and I desperately wanted to be a teen author. Sometimes I judge myself for having missed the chance - and then I remember I'm only 22. Such an old fart, right?

Right now I work as an office manager, and I write and edit all official company literature. In high school, I was copy editor - their youngest ever- for my town's monthly newspaper. I've written for online magazines and for local community theater. I spend an embarrassing amount of time arguing politics on the internet - I'm actually trying to turn my political blog into a quarterly magazine. In April, I had a short story published in one of Yale's literary journals. I have a few more coming out this summer, and I'm hoping to publish my short-story collection within the next couple of years.

Oh, and the fanfiction. So much fanfiction. I freely admit to being one of Those Girls.

It’s an oldie, but a goodie all the same: Who (past or present), from the arts and literary world, would be seated at your fantasy dinner party?

Louise Brooks, first of all. She was the OG flapper. The real thing, not just for the movies. I've heard she read Schopenhauer on set, which appeals to the snob in me. Eleanor Audley, who played Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, and Angelina Jolie, who played her in the 2014 remake. Gregory Maguire, Stephen Sondheim. Ayn Rand, because I love arguments over dinner. And Oscar Wilde, in case the party started lagging.

Would you describe yourself as a bookworm?

Definitely! Though "books" is putting it broadly. I read mostly longform journalism lately, plus short stories on writers' forums online. The last book I read was Flapper by Joshua Zeitz, a social history of the Jazz Age (J’s note: I own and have read that book as well; it’s excellent!).

What are some of your favourite vintage/classic literature titles?

I was a Latin major, so my definition of "vintage titles" might be skewed! I love Ovid and Catullus. Their work has a crassness people don't expect from the ancients. But people have always been just people, and I love that. There's a famous bit of Roman graffiti that reads "on April 19th, I made bread". So #relatable.

To go a little more recent - I'm a big Flannery O'Connor fan. Everything That Rises Must Converge has been a big influence on my own writing. And as of last year, my all-time favorite book is officially vintage. Wicked was published in 1995. I love retold fairy tales, and Gregory Maguire was my introduction to the genre.

Aside from your beautiful wardrobe, what are some ways in which you inject vintage into your life?

My house is almost 100 years old, which I love. And I buy most of my housewares second hand. My partner and I are slowly amassing antique furniture, including one beautiful but very uncomfortable couch. We're involved with lots of historical reenactment events - Renn Faires, etc. And I make flower wines, which makes me feel positively medieval.

Like myself, you adore the past, but wouldn’t want to permanently live there, if such were possible. However, are there any elements of the decades you hold most dear that you wish were still more prevalent in today’s society?

The self-sufficiency. I rely on modern convenience as much as anyone else, but I make a point of knowing how to cook, sew, shovel a driveway, etc. It's important to know I could take total care of myself, even if I don't currently have to. I'm from New England: blizzard survival skills are a must.

There is an immense allure and undeniable beauty to vintage fashion, which accounts, in part, for its popularity and appreciation to this very day. To your mind, are there elements of 21st that may be looked back upon with similar reverence and appreciation, or will we continue to hold the “golden era” of fashion in high esteem, but not be anywhere near as keen to rekindle today’s looks in another, say, fifty to eighty years? (Not that the two couldn’t, of course, cohabitation in the sartorial world then, too.)

I honestly don't know! Today's fashions are less their own thing and more a remix of the past. We have more access to other eras and cultures than ever before; the lines are more blurred. 2016's "look" is much more eclectic than 1916's. If anything, I think today's renditions of vintage styles will go down in history. "2010s does '50s" will be the "'80s does '50s" of thirty years from now.

How far back in time does your passion for vintage fashions stretch? Were there any defining experiences in particular that cemented such for you?

I've always loved costumey clothes. I was a theater geek; I wore cloaks and sparkly shoes to school well into my teens. I went thrifting all the time, and I took pride in the fact that I would wear anything. When I was about 18, I fell in love with the "vintage dresses and colorful tights" ModCloth aesthetic. I walked around like a total hipster for a couple of years until I started craving more elegance. Now I wear vintage as it was supposed to be worn: the whole corset and caboodle. It feels right - even more so when I get asked if I'm in a play.

At this point in your life, how would describe your personal style?

"Walking anachronism". I love straight-up vintage; forget the "modern twist". If I don't look like your grandma in her prime, I'm not feeling my best.

We share many points in common, another of which is an unending love for All Hallows Eve. Can you share more about your passion for such and some ways (if applicable) in which you keep such going strong all throughout the year?

I've been volunteering at haunted houses for a decade (J's note: that is officially awesome!). It's actually how I met my partner of three years. Since 2014, I've been on the production team of the largest haunted event in the county.

I make costumes, help script scenes, and attend your demon-wrangling needs. This year, though, my partner and I are taking time off to experience other local haunts. We're calling it "research and development", though our motives are totally ulterior and we both know it.

Does your love of Halloween factor, in any outwardly discernible way, into your current fashion choices?

I love Halloween in part because it's an excuse to be totally, unabashedly garish. I like to think I'm channeling Hallows' Eve when I wear a corset and petticoat to work. Life's too short not to use the good china!

I also have a pumpkin-patch tattoo down my right side, so I'm always carrying a little autumn spirit around.

Back to blogging, for a moment. What are some things that you’re surprised to see remain largely uncovered (as in, not written about) in the vintage fashion world? Do you feel any compulsion to cover such yourself?

The concept of "classiness" is really loaded, and I want to see more vintage lovers examine it. I see too many fellow bloggers reference eras "when women dressed like ladies" or disparage today's women to elevate the past. There's nothing inherently respectable or not about certain styles of dress. I'm not personally comfortable in clubwear and stiletto heels, but it's not my place to judge women who are. We can celebrate vintage style without the implicit (and sometimes explicit) slut-shaming.

Besides, what's modest today was once revolutionary. Mae West was arrested for public indecency. Bettie Page made freaking fetish porn! In their time, they were no different from the girls we decry as "immodest" today. Even makeup was once considered scandalous.

Are a big social media fan? Any sites/apps you love/loath?

My relationship with social media is begrudging. I've got my blogs, and I use Facebook to talk with friends and browse vintage groups, but that's about it. I know it's pretty much essential these days, but I hate being constantly connected. I loathe "personal branding". I don't even have a smartphone, and I plan on being the last holdout under the age of 80.

So often, I find, that those of us who are heavily immersed in the vintage scene (and/or the wearing of vintage) come to have such almost exclusively represent, to the world, who they are and thus a certainly singularity of interests is perceived, when in relatively, such is very rarely the case. 

In an effort to change this, I’m immensely interested in discussing with fellow vintage fans what some of their other passions/goals/dreams are. Any such areas that you wish to share here with us?

I'm obsessed with Maleficent! I love her, always have. I have dolls, posters, t-shirts, even a tissue box with her face on it. Hell, I have a tattoo of her horns on the back of my neck! I'm active in the (unfortunately small) Maleficent fanfiction community online. She's my favorite character of all time, and I counted down the days to her movie in 2014.

And last, but not least, circling back to the earliest questions here, what would be your “take my kingdom, it’s yours!” unicorn of a vintage hat be?

I absolutely love Mode de Lis's lemon hat. Making my own version would be pretty easy, but it's just not the same as finding it in the wild.

Connect with Skye on the following sites:

Her Tumblr blog: Beginning Our Dissent

Meet the past interviewees who have taken part in this delight ongoing post series:

February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon | July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain| August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily | December 2015: Porcelina | January 2016: Nora | February 2016: Kate | March 2016: Carla | April 2016: Jessica E.

♥ ♥ ♥

It was a joy to get to know you better, Skye, thank you ever so much for this excellent interview and for sharing your love of the past with us through your blog. I wholeheartedly encourage one and all to pop on over and follow Skye there, if you're not doing so already.

With less than a month to go until summer, the following weeks of (typically!) near perfect, absolutely gorgeous weather will no doubt be full, exciting ones for many of us.

Not too busy though, on this end at least, for June's next Fellow Vintage Blogger interview post, which I'm thrilled to say will see us boarding our fabulous imaginary vintage jet and traversing back to Europe, where I'll chat with one of my oldest and dearest online friends.

Her many passions include such things as knitting, crafting in general, visiting museums, and vintage shopping, so I'm sure we'll have an absolute bevy of things to chat about. I can hardly wait!

Here's to the tail end of spring and all the fun and loveliness it holds in store for each of us, my dears!

May 24, 2016

Sunny weather fashions on a cloudy day care of The J. Peterman Company

Outfit details

C.late 1930s/early 1940s red straw hat: Frugal Frocks
Silver tone metal and imitation turquoise rhinestone earrings: Claire's
Teal blue cropped cardigan: Thrifted
Vintage aqua coloured plastic maple leaf brooch: Broesj
Short Sleeve 1947 Dress: c/o The J. Peterman Company
Light aqua coloured plastic bangle bracelets: Claire's (I think; had for years)
c. 1950s/1960s red plastic twisted bangle bracelet: eBay
Natural Straw Tote With Flowers: c/o The J. Peterman Company
Red patent faux leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red
Nail colour: Sally Hansen Mellow Yellow

Photography by Tony Cangiano

If the name J. Peterman Company sounds familiar, say circa a couple of decades ago, but you can't quite place it, there's a very good chance that you're remembering it from the roll this real life brand played in the wildly popular sitcom series Seinfeld.

For part of that show’s run, the character of Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) worked for The J. Peterman Company and no doubt many, especially those outside of the States, thought that it was a fictional brand, created as part of the show's plot.

I can't recall precisely when I learned that such was not the case and that the J. Peterman Company was indeed a real life, fresh and blood (or at least fabric and buttons) brand, but it was a good many years ago now and the fact that they were such has always delighted me - just as their inventory of elegant goods, coupled with what has to be the most appealing online catalog I've ever seen, does as well.

The J. Peterman Company was founded nearly three decades ago now, back in 1987, when I was a mere slip of a child. It was launched by a dynamic chap named, as one might imagine, John Peterman, who on top of being a minor league ball player, was a passionate entrepreneur who wished to tap into the vogue, at the time, for high end safari and travel related styles.

From the very get-go, the company has been embed with a sense of whimsy and history, while also being firmly grounded in the here and now.

Their catalogs are world famous for their ingenuity - a marriage of beautiful drawings and photographs alike accompany the products contained within - and the descriptive, engaging stories that bring each product all the more to life. The combination of these elements give their catalogs, and website, a novel-like quality that is vastly appealing and still wonderfully unique amongst their peers.

In a way, the J. Peterman Company is hard to sum in a single sentence, and surely that has been part of their appeal and ability to ride out nearly thirty years of epic changes in the fashion world to still remain a strong player in such.

With items, the brand happily refers to as "uncommonly good stuff", sourced from the furthest corners of the globe and chicly curated in their catalog and on their website, there is a great deal to appreciate and delight in when viewing J. Peterman's sophisticated offerings.

The sense of  classicism that pervades the brand's products - which include menswear, women's wear and home goods - lends it an instant vintage inspired feel and indeed, many of their offerings are intentionally created to be vintage reproduction or heavily vintage influenced pieces, which helps to make J. Peterman a brand that should be on any yesteryear fashion fan's radar.

I've long admired the company's offerings and was genuinely surprised and thrilled alike when a representative from J. Peterman contacted me earlier this year to see if I'd be interested in working together.

After lapping up every beautiful illustration and wittily written word in their online catalog, I promptly agreed and had a splendid time selecting two items - the Short Sleeve 1947 Dress and the Natural Straw Tote With Flowers - that you see here in these photos.

My review items were promptly shipped and arrived in no time, tucked into a sturdy cardboard box with beautiful branding and packaging throughout. In fact, the dress arrived in a plastic garment bag and on a good quality hanger, something that I don't believe I've ever received from any other brand that I've shopped from or worked with over the years.

Care is clearly put into each item and order, and there was an unmistakable air of luxury to every element of my my shipment - very much including the fashions themselves.

The Short Sleeve 1947 dress, a lively mid-century cut coupled with a punchy multi-colour oversized plaid pattern, instantly appealed to me, not only for its name, but for the vibrant colours it contained.

I knew, based on the measurements provided in its listing, that this would be a very long (re: maxi length) dress on me and that such was a gamble (my hourglass shaped, 5'2" frame doesn't always take kindly to ankle grazing frocks), but the garment so appealed to me that I decided it was well worth the venture. After, all, I figured, surely Mr. Peterman himself would approve of my sense of worldly daring in this regard.

With the bag, which I also knew would be on the generously sized side of things, I was looking for a piece quite unlike any that I presently own, in terms of its dimensions, and this gorgeous straw tote delivered in spades on that front.

Both items are extremely well made. There's quality, care and top-notch workmanship at play with each, and they have the added bonus of playing together very nicely in the scope of the same outfit.

The weather around these parts has been on the grey, rainy, cloud strewn sky side of things a great deal this month and while a a sunnier setting would have been even more ideal for an ensemble this rich in summertime notes, sometimes one simply has to play the cards their dealt.

Thus, to up the warm weather vibe of both these pieces, Tony and I recently hightailed it to a small strip of beach in the nearby town of Peachland to grab some outfit shoots by the water's edge.

It was quite a nippy afternoon and a coat or jacket would not have been out of the question in the slightest, but I didn't want to obscure this charming frock too much, so I opted instead to partner it with a fitted cropped cardigan, which had the added bonus of allowing the matching sash tie style belt that the dress includes to remain visible.

The Short Sleeve 1947 dress is made from (light to medium weight) 100% cotton of a very good quality, that one senses will hold up extremely well over the years. It was, and is, true to the sizing provided by the company and I certainly appreciate the richness of the colour palette it boasts.

Likewise, the (fully lined) tote bag is a premium piece made from buttery soft straw that has none of the roughness, sharp texture or brittle quality that many beach totes made from this classic material are prone to including.

Both pieces are a joy to wear and suit the roasty-toasty months, that will soon reach us, to a true tee, and sincerely wish to thank the J. Peterman Company for both of these sophisticatedly stylish review pieces.

Aside from the very shopable catalog that the brand provides, those (in the States) who are looking to add some of J. Peterman's wonderful offerings to their own closet, may wish to enter the incredibly generous $5,000 Shopping Spree Sweepstakes that the company is currently holding on their website until October 1, 2016.

Even if Mother Nature isn't ready to slip into her summertime threads quite yet around these parts, my own wardrobe of such received a lovely boast care of these two beautifully made offerings from a brand that channels the past, while also continually looking forward.

And which stands, to date, as undoubtedly one of the finest and most intriguing brands I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

May 22, 2016

Come along on a virtual road trip through beautiful British Columbia

As mentioned in Friday's post, this weekend is a long one here in Canada, thanks to Victoria Day tomorrow. For many the nation over, that means the first road trip of the year (or at least the summertime season) and while we're staying put this time around, my mind is definitely on the open road and the many exciting places in this province, both big and small alike, that one could easily reach in less than one day's time (for those inquiring minds, BC is 944,735 km² in total size).

Growing up, with just one exception, my family never went on a vacation outside of Canada, and almost all that were embarked upon took place within the boundaries of our own province.

Far from being ho-hum, the prospect of a seeing a good deal of this large, diverse, absolutely gorgeous province was thrilling and entertaining at the same time, and it instilled a love of trips involving lengthy drives in me at a very early age.

Such jaunts included all corners of the Okanagan Valley and most spots on the Lower Mainland (including Vancouver Island), as well as various locations in the Kootaneys, Shuswap, Thompson Okanagan, Central/Interior, and Cariboo regions.

These days, road trips make a lot of sense for Tony and I as well, especially because they allow me to take certain comforts of home, as well as my own food (an absolute necessity given my extremely strict medical diet), with me when we travel, which isn't always as possible when air, boat, or train trips are in the equation.

We also both really enjoy the act of hanging out in the car when we drive and completely agree that the journey can be every inch as much fun as the destination itself (a point that I touched on in last year's post, 7 Important Things That Travel Teaches Us).

So on this lusciously pretty, wonderfully warm Sunday morning in late May, in the spirit of the season, Victoria Day, and fellow wanderlust filled souls everywhere, I thought it would be a blast to take all of you on a virtual road trip through various parts of British Columbia.

{Summer's (almost) here and the living is easy - so too should your holidays, be - road trips very much included. Now is the ideal time for such, so why not try to squeeze at least one into your plans this season. Extra bonus points if you blouse matches your car and picnic dishware in the process. :)}

Hundreds of towns, cities, municipalities, and small communities call this province home and it would take an encyclopedic sized post, or more realistically a very hefty sized book, to cover them all (if such were even possible). Thus - much like with a real road trip - we aren't going to see every last corner, but I will strive to provide you with a lovely assortment of diverse spots from north to south and east to west.

I've tried to keep these destinations arranged in loose geographical orders, starting with those at the most southerly tip of the province (Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley), but simply due to how BC is laid out and the need to jump, in the course of this make-believe road trip, from one part to the next, do bear in mind that this isn't a precise representation of how British Columbia would actually appear on a map.

Pack a weekend bag or two, my dears, toss an extra bottle of sunscreen in your purse, slip on some comfy walking (or driving!) shoes, pack a hearty lunch, and get your camera ready, because this promises to be on thoroughly enjoyable virtual vacay! :)

Objectively, there's really no where on Vancouver Island that isn't a.) breath-taking, b.) either in or surrounded by gorgeous natural settings, and  c.) worth seeing, but if you can only visit one or two spots, beeline it to the stunning little community of Tofino. Famous the world over for having some of the best surfing waters anywhere, as well as plenty of amazing thunder storms, fantastic bird watching, awesome whale spotting (including an annual grey whale migration), and endlessly lovely views of the Pacific Ocean, Torfino is a must-see for anyone hightailing to the Island.

While on the Island, a stop in the provincial capital of Victoria is well worth devoting at least a couple of days to. Victoria is a lively, beautiful city that's rich in old world charm, scores of historic homes and buildings, a terrific cultural scene, world class dining, wonderful museums and galleries, tons of outdoor fun, numerous vintage and antique shops, and even the ability to feed super cute harbour seals. Not to mention the fact that it's my favourite city in the whole province.

And before you jump on a ferry or plane and touch down on mainland, BC, while not put some more miles on the odometer and venture up island to the lovely little town of Campbell River. Also known as the Salmon Capital of the World, here you can fish, hike, explore the rich First Nations history of the area, see where (at least some parts of) a number of Hollywood blockbusters including Seven Years in Tibet and The Scarlet Letter where filmed, and say you've been to one of the spots that famed explorer Captain George Vancouver landed at way back in 1792.

Vancouver, sweet Vancouver, oh I adore you! Born a stone's throw away from your bustling urban streets and jaw droppingly incredible natural settings, you will always have a special place in my heart and are truly a world class tourist destination if ever there was one! You name it, chances are - from whale watching to amazing sushi, huge malls to tiny indie boutiques, opera to ocean side walking paths, Vancouver has it all!

Most of my memories of our next stop took place when I was a small girl (I haven't had a chance to get back very often since then), and you know, just about all of them are lovely. From sun drenched days to awesome frozen yogurt to watching seals frolicking in the waters of the Pacific, New Westminster was lively, urban, fun and beautiful - plus, it was also where, at age four or five, I witnesses a smartly dressed woman walking a mink on a thin little leash and saw with my own eyes for the first time that there more types of pets in this world than just cats, dogs, hamsters and goldfish (and thus a perpetual love of unique critters was born).

If you can make it New West, as this historically rich city (it was the first capital of the newely formed Colony of British Columbia back in the mid-1800s) is affectionately called, be sure to try and visit The Royal City Musical Theatre, the New Westminster Museum and Archives, and the marvelous New Westminster Quay down at the waterfront.

If you love historic towns (and chances are, if you're reading this blog, you do! :)), then the immensely quaint little vcommunity of Fort Langley in BC's Lower Mainland area is for you! It's home to the Fort Langley National Historic Site, as well as many wonderful old homes and buildings, including a great, tree lined blast-from-the-past looking downtown core.

Rather surprisingly, given what a well known tourist destination it is, I've never been to our utterly gorgeous next stop: Whistler, BC. One of the country's - if not the world's - premier ski and snowboarding destinations, Whistler is also a thriving upscale vacation spot that has earned itself the unofficial nickname "Aspen of Canada".

A part of the province that I know quite well from having lived there for about seven years when I was a very young child, the lively city of Abbotsford on the Lower Mainland is actually the third largest (by population) in the province. It blends modern city living with a classic farming community, all set against the backdrop of a stunning mountain range, and boosting a fab annual berry festival each summer that pays homage to the the abundance of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries that are grown in the area.

There is absolutely no shortage of lakes - big, small, in between, and downright massive - in BC, but by far one of my favourite is Cultus Lake near the city of Chilliwack. Clear blue waters, stunning evergreen tree lined hills, a really cool water slide park, and ample spots in which to camp are just the few of the reasons why many road trippers include this beautiful lake on their journeys through British Columbia.

Not epicly far from Cultus Lake, one is apt to run into the lovely community of Harrison Hot Springs, which as the name implies, is home to a fantastic natural hot springs that has been drawing in tourists for many decades now. I've not yet been myself, but I wholeheartedly want to, particularly during the winter months so that I can experience that unmistakable feeling of icy air on my face and warm water everywhere else! :)

With one of the loveliest and most inviting names on today's imaginary road trip, The Sunshine Coast region - on the southern mainland coast of the province - is a beautiful area that certainly earns its moniker. Numerous towns and small communities call this region home, including (but not limited to) Powell River, Lund, Gibsons, and Sechelt.

Throughout the Sunshine Coast, one finds gorgeous, dense Pacific woodland, many exciting outdoor hiking and walking trails, assorted rives and lakes, amazing flora and fauna, and plenty of great places in which to go kayaking and/or whale watching. A popular spot with tourists and retirees alike, the Sunshine Coast is a great destination all year round, even if the sun isn't actually out when you get there. :)

I debated whether or not to include this next town in our journey, as Tony and I like to jokingly refer to it as our road trip "nemesis" (due to the fact that for reasons unknown our GPS unit always seems to be thrown for a loop here and we end up on a back roads journey, often under the cover of darkness, having no idea if we're getting terribly lost or just taking a very scenic route!).

That said though, I have happy memories of Hope from when I was little and in general, it is too key a stop on the Trans-Canada Highway to overlook, especially since its the last place to fuel up, get some grub, and/or spend the night, for many a mile, no matter if one is taking the Coquihalla or the Trans-Canada Highway (the two key overland routes to and from the Coast to many places elsewhere in the province).

Situated along the Fraser River, Hope is a small, quaint town on the outer edge of the Lower Mainland, right before it turns into the Interior of BC. With European history stretching back to at least 1808 and First Nations history for centuries before that point, Hope has old roots and a lively soul that is used to seeing folks come and go as they venture on to elsewhere. Its air is clean, its trees tall and abundant, its people friendly, and its restaurants and fishing spots alike both plentiful.

My whole life (I like to chalk it up to the fact that some of my ancestors took part in the Klondike gold rush) I've been drawn to mining towns and of those of I've visited so far, the wee community of Hedley in Similkameen Valley is definitely one of my favourites. A mere blip on the highway to most coming and going elsewhere in BC, Hedley is definitely worth pulling into and checking out, especially when the Mascot Mine Museum and Hedley Heritage Museum are each open.

Well, you guys had to know that there was no way I was going to leave Penticton off of this list! :) Aside from the fact that this is where Tony and I live, Penticton (and the neighbouring community of Naramata) more than merits inclusion for many reasons.

From both of its fantastic lakes (with ample sized beaches, as well as marinas, at each) to its world renowned wine industry to the fact that it's home to the legendary Ogopogo lake monster, multiple gold courses, incredible summer produce (cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, apples, plums, and pears, to name but some of the fruit grown here) and a terrific ski hill called Apex Mountain, Penticton makes for a great road trip destination the whole year 'round.

Naturally, I'd be just as remiss if I were to leave Kelowna off of this list. The largest city in the Okanagan, Kelowna is home to about 180,000 people and the hub of the Okanagan Valley in many respects. A vacationer's dream, it has many of the same highlights as Penticton, plus ample shopping, a busier night life, wonderful golf courses, great cultural events, a rich history, and plenty of excellent places to eat while you're in town.

Fast becoming one of my favourite towns in this province, Vernon is located a little over 1.5 hours north of Penticton and seems to be thriving and expanding at a pace far exceeding that seen lower in the Valley these days. Shopping, outdoor activities aplenty, lovely lakes, numerous antique shops, a really lovely historical building filled downtown core, Polson Park, and an annual winter carnival are just some of the perks of this terrific slice of the Okanagan.

Before hopping out of this neck of the sage brush filled woods entirely, let's stop in and visit the second largest city in the area: Kamloops (which is technically part of the Thompson Okanagan). An old (by BC standards) town situated on the mighty North Thompson River, Kamloops now houses a wonderful university, a number of wood industry related companies, a beautiful downtown core, plenty of fun outdoor activities, a symphony, a really nice central library, and lots of other engaging things to see and do.

A bit to the northwest of Kamloops, one encounters that charming town of Lillooet, located on the powerful Fraser River. Once an important center during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of the late 1850s, the area had already been inhabited by First Nations peoples for centuries, who today comprise just over half of the town's modern population.

Lillooet is a sweet, fun town that charmingly bills itself as BC's Little Nugget, in a direct nod to its gold rush past. Visitors to Lillooet will delight in learning about the local mining history, exploring its marvelous natural settings, and visiting the Lillooet Museum.

Three Valley Gap, situated on Three Valley Lake, is a small unincorporated village on the Trans-Canada Highway just a stone's throw away from Eagle Pass. Rich in the natural beauty of the stunning Shuswap area that surrounds it, this enchanting corner of the province is famous for its stunning and very grand Three Valley Chateau (pictured above) as well as for being quite the heritage ghost town area. If you're ever in the vacinity (or want to take a trip just to visit that area), I can't recommend stopping by Three Valley Gap highly enough.

One of the most beloved tourist destinations in all of BC, generously sized Shuswap Lake and the lovely assortment of towns and small communities that surround it make for an awesome getaway, especially in the summertime, with the area being well known for the large number of houseboats that take to its waters. Perfect for swimming, boating, water sports, fishing, bird watching, and simply catching some rays, Shuswap Lake is a must-visit if you're in this interior corner of the province.

The rather uniquely named city of Salmon Arm is a gem in the heart of the Shuswap area that lies at the midway point between Vancouver and Calgary, two of the biggest cities in Western Canada. Founded largely as a bustling orchard town around the turn of the last century, Salmon Arm has continued to thrive over the years and as is still experiencing growth and a healthy business sector to this day.

Between the fine weather, charms of the town itself, and various annual events (including the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival on the third weekend in August and the Salmon Arm Agricultural Fair in early September), Salmon Arm is well worth including on your "to stop" list, if you're venturing though this beautiful, sunshine filled part of the province.

Located in Southeastern British Columbia, the town of Revelstoke has long been a crossroads point of sorts for those coming north from Vancouver, as well as west from Alberta, in addition to south and east from locations throughout the province, too. Rich in history, very much including that of the Canadian Pacific Railway, today Revelstoke makes for a lovely little getaway or quick stop en route else where on your journey through BC (especially if you enjoy outdoor activities such as mountain climbing, skiing, and boating).

Next up in our travels (is everyone having fun?), we're going to veer significantly to the left (and further north than we've yet explored) again and pop on over to the utterly breathtaking little community of Bella Coola on the Pacific Coast. A lush, verdant area with a wonderful First Nations history and countless spots to explore and simply appreciate the great outdoors and the stunningly majestic ocean, Bella Coola is a great place to visit if you're in the mood to relax and soak up the beauty of Mother Nature.

Okay, guys, everyone back in the car because we're going to put add quite a few clicks to the count as we head way back down south in the province to visit the historically rich, wonderfully pretty region that is the Kootenays.

This mountainous slice of the province provides many towns and villages to explore, but first up, we'll pop into the rather prettily named Cranbrook. Situated on the west side of the Kootenay River, Cranbrook is one of the larger communities in the area and is home to Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, as well as a slew of historic homes and buildings, plus more breathtaking natural scenery than you shake a trekking pole at!

Perhaps the best known destination in the Kootenays, the picturesque town of Nelson is located in a valley alongside the lofty Selkirk Mountains, with a mighty lake at its heart. Famous for a myriad of things, including its rich abundance of old-fashioned homes and buildings, Nelson (which we visited just last month, as you may recall from this recent post) is especially renowned for having a rich cultural spirit, as well as for being an open-minded, tolerant community. (Plus, movie buffs might enjoy visiting the town where Steve Martin's classic 1980s film Roxanne was shot.)

Venturing north from the Kootenays and along the stunning Rocky Mountains, on the boarder with Alberta, one discovers the heart of the Columbia Valley in beautiful Invermere, BC (home to my talented friend, author Elinor Florence).

For those wishing to explore the area more thoroughly, Invermere makes a good home base or jumping off point if you're hankering to see other spots in this part of British Columbia, including Radium, Kootenay National Park (a mere 17.5 km away), Golden, the Fairmont Hot Springs, Fort Steele, and Kimberly.

Before we wave goodbye to this sublimely pretty part of BC, let's spend some time exploring Yoho National Park, whose name is a Cree word meaning "awe and wonder", which is exactly what this stunning 1,312 km² chunk of the province will inspire in all who see it. Together with a handful of other marvelous wilderness locations in the area (including the Banff National Parks), Yoho helps to comprise the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site and it is truly worth venturing off the beaten path to enjoy some of the finest outdoor views Canada has to offer.

Buckle in, gang, because we're leaving the splendor of the Rockies and heading to another section of the province that is every bit as beautiful in its own right: the incredibly tree dense region of the Cariboo (that's not a typo; it's spelled differently than the name of the animal). A rugged, exciting area with no shortage of colourful history and magnificent scenery, the Cariboo is home to numerous towns, cities, and teeny communities alike, many of which are rich with a wild west-esque spirit thanks to many decades of cattle ranching in the area.

For our first stop in the Cariboo (which, I should mention, is a part of the province I both have strong family ties to and that I love something fierce), we're going to wave hello to 100 Mile House (or as it was originally known, Bridge Creek House). With a history predating the famous Cariboo Gold Rush of the 1860s, 100 Mile House is a quaint, fun little town that now enjoys the title of "The Handcrafted Log Home Capital of North America", while also bustling with wonderful outdoor activities spanning bird watching to cross country skiing to rodeos.

If you're a longtime follower of this blog, you might recall me having mentioned the (off-the-charts awesome) historical living ghost town that is Barkerville, BC a time or two here before (it was, after all, where I had my first real job, as a waitress, when I was a teenager).

While, officially, virtually no one actually resides in Barkerville all year round (most who work there live in the tiny neighbouring community of Wells), it comes alive with actors, employees and throngs of tourists alike throughout the sunny months and at select times (such as Christmas) throughout the year. If, like me, you go wild for gold rush related tales and historical reenactments (not to mention the chance to pan for gold yourself), then this is a must-see on your BC road trip itinerary.

As you make your way back down the long road that leads from Barkerville and into the delightful little town of Quesnel (itself well worth spending some time in), you'll head back out onto the main highway and begin the trek up to the Cariboo's largest city, Prince George. In fact, Prince George is the largest city in all of northern British Columbia and as such is a major hub of industry, economy, tourism, culture, education (it boasts a terrific university), and recreation.

I love Prince George, flat out love it. If I was given the chance to move there, I'd do so in a heartbeat. There's just something about the incredible natural scenery - packed to the gills with evergreen trees and crystal clear waters - interspersed with a teeming city that appeals to me on so many levels.

Prince George is around nine hours away from both Vancouver and Calgary, so if you're planning to spend time in either and want to take a very worthwhile mini trip into the heart of BC, I truly suggest checking this beautiful city out.

Continuing our journey north(west) we come to the lovely little town of Houston, BC (named after a pioneer era newspaperman, John Houston), which is well known for its steelhead fishing and being home to the largest fly fishing rod in the world, as well as for its mining and logging industries, and for having an abundance of gorgeous natural settings.

As we venture ever further north, the air becomes all the more fresh and pure, with notes of the acrctic wind never far from sight, and your chance of spotting big game (very much including moose and bears) is upped substantially. As our car clocks the miles in these more remote parts of British Columbia, we find ourselves in the town of Terrace, on the Skeena River. One of the larger locations in the area, Terrace is home to about 12,000 people and countless times that many stately evergreen trees.

With a wonderful and very long stretching First Nations history, the area that is today Terrace has been inhabited for thousands of years (in fact, it has supported one of the longest standing Aboriginal Peoples communities in North America for many centuries now) and it is well worth taking the time to study and appreciate the richness that this past bestows on the town.

In addition, Terrace provides visitors with a slew of outdoor pastimes, from fishing to kiting, snowmobiling to mushroom and berry picking, plus plenty more - and no doubt wilderness photographers will instantly be taken in by its beauty and allure, too.

From Terrace, we are going to veer to the left and hop on a ferry boat (or airplane) and spend a spot of time on the Pacific Ocean before we reach our next travel point: the sublimely gorgeous Queen Charlotte Islands (today officially known as Haida Gwaii).

Rugged, wind swept, densely forested and not yet heavily populated by humans, this enchanting part of British Columbia is famous for its attractiveness, abundance of outdoor activities (including sailing and bird watching, where during either you may spot some of the area's adorable Tufted Puffins), rich First Nations heritage, and for first being explored by Europeans (including Captain James Cook) in the 1770s. If you feel drawn to off-the-beaten path locations with incredible natural views, you are bound to fall forever in love with Haida Gwaii.

Back on the mainland, we're going to going to head towards the (northern) center of the province and land in the lovely little community of Mackenzie, which lies at the shores of Williston Lake (the largest man-made lake in the province). Though Mackenzie might not be the biggest tourist draw in the world, those who do take the time to travel that far afield in the province will be richly rewarded, for the town is an outdoor sports and recreation enthusiast's paradise, where everything from dog sledding to cross country skiing to swimming and fishing are on offer, and it is sure to keep you busy any time of the year.

As we climb ever closer to the top of the province, we encounter a town that shares an almost identical name with a popular 1990s TV show, though (as local residents are no doubt quite tired of pointing out, the two are not related): Dawson Creek (which was named for a Mr. George Mercer Dawson who surveyed the area in the summer of 1879).

With roots in the farming industry, Dawson Creek later became an active railway line town in the 1930s and played an important part in transporting military shipments during WW2. Though population growth has slowed since the sixties, Dawson Creek, which is situated in the dry prairie lands of the Peace River Country, is still home to close to 12,000 people and offers an assortment of things to do for those visiting its northerly soil.

Some such highlights include a heritage interpretation village, a museum, an art gallery, an annual fall fair, and the chance to have your picture taken with the famous Mile "0" post that marks the beginning of the Alaska Highway.

Heading on upwards from Dawson Creek, about an hour away, we'll encounter another of the north's larger cities, Fort St. John, which houses nearly 20,000 residents. A beautiful mix of urban living and pristine wilderness, Fort St. John is a land beneath a wide open sky, with vast expanses of Mother Nature's riches on every side and air so bracingly fresh, it must surely have secret healing properties. A transportation hub for the region, Fort St. John is a bustling town with an array of cultural events, annual festivities (including a Winter Carnival), lovely places to stay, and gorgeous wildflowers.

Our next destination has the word word "Fort" in its name, too, which is speaks volumes to the early fur trapping and trading posts that were set up by Europeans in the area in centuries past. With about 1/4th the population of Fort St. John, the smaller community of Fort Nelson, some four hours away, is still "big" by the population standards of the area and has traditionally drawn on the local natural resources, very much including timber and energy, for its economic backbone.

Named after the famous British naval hero, Horatio Nelson, this northern town is home to a wonderful abundance of wildlife, including (but certainly not limited to), moose, bison, wolves, elk, mountain goats, grizzly bears, deer, caribou, black bears, bald eagles, and great horned owls, making it an absolute dream destination for wildlife photographers and bird watches from around the world.

Our final destination takes us very nearly to the border with the Yukon and like many locations in the north, it is a small, close knit community of just a few hundred residents: Atlin, BC.

Located on the shores of Atlin Lake, this small town is home to less than 500 people, yet that hasn't stopped it from being a popular spot for those looking to fish, ski (including helliski), hunt, camp, hike, and otherwise explore this pristine, deeply lovely area at the very tippy-top of British Columbia (which is home to a popular annual music festival, as seen in the photo above).

I haven't made it anywhere near this far north yet myself, but I truly hope to one day - camera firmly in hand every step, or should I say, kilometer, of the way.

{To learn more about a specific image in today's post, please click on it to be taken to its respective source.}

Have you ever been to any of these places? Which ones would you most like to see if you were taking a road trip through British Columbia?

This might go without saying, but please note that if a location didn't appear here, it most certainly doesn't mean that it isn't worth visiting (because I can all but guarantee you that it is!).

Again, it's simply that BC is so large, so diverse, and so teaming with stunning locations (including many in the Lower Mainland area), that it simply isn't possible to share more than a tiny fraction of all its various destinations with you in the scope of just one blog post.

I fully realize that a lot, if not most, of you will never get the chance to visit British Columbia (or at least not many places in it, especially outside of the Vancouver area), but I hope that such doesn't impede your ability to be an avid armchair traveller through this breathtaking westerly part of Canada.

The passion that lives in my heart for my home province is scarcely a secret (in fact, I delved right into it in last summer's look at 25 Reasons Why British Columbia is Awesome) and I love knowing that there will always be new places for us to visit, no matter how long we live here.

In addition, much as when I was a youngster, certain favourites (*Hi, Victoria!*) will be returned to time after glorious time, lapped up and explored, enjoyed and marveled at as the years roll on and such destinations continue to evolve into slightly different versions of themselves.

Summertime travel, be it a road trip or otherwise, is one of life's great pleasures. There's something, I find so incredibly fun about watching hundreds (or even thousands) of miles of pavement roll along under your wheels, gas station snack breaks, discovering tiny little spots you'd never heard of before, memories created by the suitcase full, and the unmistakable siren's song of one more destination before turning the car around and heading back home.

{Sadly that gorgeous row of trees - which provided so much needed shades during the dog days of summer - were removed in recent years, however the gorgeous beaches and stunning weather of Penticton, seen here in this c. 1960 postcard, remain and are well worth checking out if you happen to be visiting BC.}

And should you ever find yourself swinging through the Okanagan on a car trip of your own through the province, please don't hesitate to look me. Much like a great roadside attraction, I'm rather hard to miss as the only auburn haired, mid-century wearing vintage blogger in Penticton. :)

Thank you very much for coming along with me on this virtual vacation. I hope that you each had an excellent time and learned oodles more about BC in the process.

Happy Victoria Day wishes to my fellow canucks who are celebrating tomorrow and a fantastic week to one and all the world over!