Despite decades of cultural change and openness to more diversity, there is an unavoidable Anglophilia all over Canada. It is part of the country’s cultural mosaic, but the one with the deepest roots.
You can find it in the many tea rooms, by watching cricketeers on Sundays, and in visits to pubs modeled on those found in the old country.
It’s been eons since I’ve experienced the dark, low ceilinged and slightly claustrophic rooms of a hundred-years old English pub, which I can recall happily frequenting in my youth for its reassuring, ebullient din and its promise of camaraderie. Never mind the contemporary smoking ban and slightly newer digs of a new country locale, and you have the same experience again all over Victoria: darts, shepherd’s pie, Queen’s tartan signage and all.
As I discovered recently, not all locals enjoy a sunny summer day kayaking, hiking, biking, gardening or otherwise outdoors. The pubs start rocking early and by dinner hour are full to capacity.
For those who want the best of both worlds, as do I, here’s your strategy. These pubs usually have lovely outdoor seating areas, so you can settle in after a summer day’s activity, perhaps four-ish in the afternoon, to enjoy the late sun over a Ploughman’s plate of local cheeses and a choice of English ales and lagers.
You’ll also find wares from a slew of local breweries. My favorite:the lively and fresh tasting Victoria Pilsener from Vancouver Island Brewery. This summer, I also indulged in sampling the island’s many hard ciders, a subject to be returned to soon.