Ben Fast

Culture - Community - Museums - Travel

Tag: Victoria (page 1 of 5)

Letter Writing Week and Postcrossing Meet Up at the Royal BC Museum

What’s the best thing you’ve ever received through the mail?  A birthday card?  A postcard from a friend on vacation?  A Christmas present?  A love letter?  Phone bill?

Ok, so phone bills and flyers aren’t likely your favourite things about the postal system, but when something sent with love from across the globe or around the corner arrives in our mailbox we are filled with a great sense of joy and excitement!

Old Letter-1-004

An old postcard from…Germany? Can anyone read this?

In today’s digital age, we’ve turned to instant communication for every type of message.  Our quick hellos, heartfelt apologies, and even our tentative notes of affection have become cold, impersonal clicks and swipes, sent off without a second thought and denigrated to the same level as that phone bill payment, food pic or work email.  And worst of all, we’ve relegated hand-written communication to the realm of “snail mail.”  We’re at risk of losing handwriting skills and long-form letter writing all together!

Letter Writing Week

But never fear!  The Royal BC Museum is hosting a special Letter Writing Week from January 2-9, 2016 to encourage visitors to re-engage with the art of letter writing by sitting down and spending time composing a hand written letter.  Between 11am-2pm, venture up to the 3rd floor and find the letter writing station to join in.  Oh, and did I mention that the museum is open by donation that week as part of their Community Days?!

“The act of sitting down to write by hand is quite different from using a computer or smartphone. We want visitors to re-engage with this simpler activity, to promote literacy, communication and community.”

The Royal BC Museum is providing all the supplies you will need, including paper, pens, envelopes, dictionaries, tablets to look up addresses, and even postage!  You can bring your own materials if you want, the museum will send any letters or postcards written at the station (no late Christmas packages though!).

Send us your mail

Want to take part but can’t make it down to the museum in January?  Then send a letter or postcard to the museum and we’ll put it on display at the station!  Please don’t send anything after January 1 as it will arrive too late.  You can send mail to:

The Learning Department

c/o Royal BC Museum

675 Belleville St.

Victoria, BC

V8W 9W2


You can send anything you like (so long as it is appropriate for children to read).  What did you get for Christmas?  What are your New Years resolutions?  What’s the weather like outside?

Postcrossing Meet Up:

Are you a Postcrosser?  Do you want to be?  Postcrossers are members of the Postcrossing Project, an online community devoted to sending real postcards through the mail.  If you sign up, you can send (real) postcards to random people all around the world and then have other random people send you postcards back!  It’s like a pen pal network, except with different people each time.

Postcrossers host occasional meet ups where members get together and all sign postcards being sent out.  If you’re a member or are interested in learning more, stop by the Letter Writing Week station on Saturday, January 9 between 11-2 and we’ll have our very own Postcrossing Museum Meet Up!  I’m running the station that day, and I’ll bring some of my collection of postcards from around the world to show visitors as well as let people sign some cards to be sent out.

One of the coolest Postcrossing cards I’ve ever received: a scratch-to-play Minesweeper card sent to me by a stranger in Sweden! You can see where some of the top layer got scraped away during the journey.

BC Archives

The Royal BC Museum is also home to the BC Archives where many letters, diaries and notes from BC’s past are kept for future generations.  While you’re visiting the Letter Writing Week station, keep your eyes open for archival letters in the exhibits or on display.  Notice how handwriting has changed, how letters were composed, how people said hello.


We hope to see you down at the museum this January for Letter Writing Week!  You never know, maybe the letter you write will find its way into an archive someday!

BC Day Instameet: #ExploreVictoria

Yesterday, on the afternoon of a beautiful, sunny, and warm BC Day, I joined my first ever instameet (a meet-up of people who use the social media platform Instagram, in case you don’t already know).  This instameet was organized by Tourism Victoria as part of Destination BC’s province-wide #ExploreBC campaign.

While essentially creating free user-generated content for the local DMO, the event was a fun way to meet some good local photographers and see the inside of social media marketing.  We started in Chinatown and ended with some dinner at the Royal BC Museum’s Food Truck Festival, taking photos and chatting all the way through.  Some who came along were real pros, but other were there just for fun like me, but we all had a great time getting to know each other, talking about the city, and taking photos.

I think I went to the event just for something to do, and because it would be a good blog post idea, but I was hoping to see how people engaged with others on an instameet. I was a bit surprised we hardly ever talked about photography, other than a bit of gear talk about the old cameras, a quick reference to the classic Nikon/Canon debate, and quite a bit more self-promotion. I wonder if an instameet simply for regular users of Instagram (or with specific guidelines about what photos to take like the recent and amazing #emptyBM project) might have had a different result. Instead, our talk at dinner was more about the use of hashtags in getting your images to the top of the search fields. Still, a fun time.

Here are the results of my first ever instameet!

1st stop = refreshment. Ok, now ready to start! #instameet #exploreBC #explorevictoria

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

#chinatown #exploreBC #explorevictoria

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

Chinatown has some amazing sights and is a common spot for photo walks, but I tried to look for some sights I hadn’t seen before, and play off Instagram’s use of colour.

#explorevictoria #exploreBC

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

Didn't expect this high on a wall in Fan Tan Alley! #explorevictoria #exploreBC

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

This camera was amazing, and Adrian and his wife were really fun to chat with as we walked around the city. Check out his work!

Nice light coming into #MarketSquare. #explorevictoria #exploreBC #instameet

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

One of these things is not like the other. #explorevictoria #exploreBC #WaddingtonAlley

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

#WaddingtonAlley #exploreBC #explorevictoria

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

Ok #yyj, name this building! #exploreBC #explorevictoria

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

(It’s the Youth Empowerment Society, by the way)

Ok @ashleyforsilly try this one! Where in #yyj? #explorevictoria #exploreBC

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

(After my friend Ashley guessed the previous one right away I stumped her with this. It’s in Bastion Square!)

We are a seaside town after all… #exploreBC #explorevictoria #fish #salmonfishinginBC

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

Almost made it to our last location for the #explorevictoria #exploreBC #instameet

A post shared by Ben Fast (@befaster) on

Thanks Katie and Dorothee from Tourism Victoria for organizing such a fun event and for trying to keep our group together as we made it around Downtown! Remember to all others, you’re always welcome here in Victoria!

I ended the day with my cousin enjoying the Victoria HarbourCats win a great game of baseball. There were even fireworks after!

Check out my Instagram feed to follow along with more exploring around Victoria and wherever else I get to!

The Janion: A Conservation Plan

The following paper was written for Dr. Sharon Vattay’s Heritage Conservation Planning course in Cultural Resource Management Program at UVic.  I had never taken a course on heritage conservation before, so the concepts and processes were new to me.  It was a fascinating course with lots to learn.  Throughout the course my building of choice for various assignments was the Janion building, an old hotel turned office space/warehouse/derelict building that is now becoming micro-condos located right next to the Johnson Street Bridge.  The course culminated with a final conservation plan, which you can see below.

Being A Tourist in My Own Hometown


One of the great Regional Assembly of Text postcards I splurged on!

One of the Regional Assembly of Text postcards I splurged on!

Victoria is a fun city.  No, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not just a city for old people who stay at home and go to bed at 7pm!  One of the recent fun events out on in town is Attractions Victoria’s Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown promotional event.  Before the crowds of tourists arrive in the summer AV encourages locals to get out and experience their own city’s tourism activities (and dare I say, some are simply under-used local activities).  And better yet, they get rid of tourism prices and the Victoria winter weather usually makes things very nice!

I took my new Diana Baby 110 camera for a spin during the day too.  Perfect weather, lots of exploring, a great way to break in the new machine!

I took my new Diana Baby 110 camera for a spin during the day too. Perfect weather, lots of exploring, a great way to break in the new machine!

Sophie filming the Be A Tourist promo for FRH!

Sophie filming the Be A Tourist promo for FRH!

I managed to score some coupons for my one free day during the Be a Tourist weekend from my work at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites.  We offered free admission for the entire week and the organization was given 2 books to share among each other.  I grabbed some coupons for my favourite locations and some I haven’t been to before, and my mom and I got all touristy.

As I’m all about social media and getting involved in the business-consumer engagement process, I kept track of where we went through Twitter.  Follow along!

(50% admission on one entry)  It was a pretty good IMAX, always love when Patrick Stewart narrates space things.  Will I see humans land on Mars before I die?  Looks like it’s more and more likely…

Shrimp and Avocado sandwich (with the free cup of soup) is the only thing I get here.  It’s so good I just can’t move away from it.  Pickle on the side, sit back, and enjoy.  It’s just as good as it was when my mom was a kid!  And I love the City of Victoria Archives photos on the wall, such great history in this town!


These guys are awesome.  Chris Adams (pictured) and his dad John gave my public history class a tour of Victoria last March and John did an amazing job as emcee of my UVic graduation ceremony in June (I’ve never had my name pronounced so well).  Once again, Chris gave a great tour, giving us the not-quite PG-13 tour with all the dirty details of sex, murder and gold all within the walls of modern-day Market Square!  Did you know that Sun Yat-sen lived in Victoria and raised quite a bit of money for his 1911 Rebellion here?

We came back after the tour and splurged on some postcards, a book (Experience Passport: 45 Ways to Broaden Your Horizons) and this awesome pin:

I love the Blue Bridge!  Going to miss the old beaut...

I love the Blue Bridge! Going to miss the old beaut…

Bateman’s work isn’t quite my favourite, although his early work was really interesting.  I did, however, really like the Bateman Centre, a well-lit, informative, and well-organized mid-sized gallery in the old CP Steamship Terminal.  We especially liked the interactive picture frames!

What a day!  Busy as vacationing bees, and enjoyed every minute of it.  I’ll be back to the Royal BC Museum on Monday to combine my Be a Tourist coupon with some meetings with RBCM staff.  We’ve also got a coupon for a free pizza at the Beach House Restaurant, looking forward to that some other night this week.

And of course, the weather was wonderful, once again.  I love my hometown!

Lights and Forts and Interns (oh my!)

Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma. – Wizard of Oz

My new office won’t be quite so dramatic, but at least I’ll get a brain out of it!

Tomorrow, the day after my final day of in-class instruction for my MA, I will begin an internship as the Business Development and Marketing Initiatives Assistant at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites.  While I still have a thesis and an online course to finish, this is the first time I’m stepping into a job without knowing I’m going back to school after four months.  Oh great Wizard of Oz, what levers will you pull in my life behind your emerald curtain?

The amazing Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.

To avoid being like the scholars of the Wizard of Oz’s homeland, Royal Roads University (and many others) embrace the model of experiential learning through job placements, co-op terms and internships.  Experiential learning helps those of us who go to university and leave with diplomas to have a brain filled with more than just academic learning.  We leave school with real world experiences to bridge the gap between school and our future careers (also known as real life).

A double exposure of the Fort’s old walls.

I am a big supporter of co-op learning models.  I have already completed three co-op terms as part of my undergraduate degree (History, UVic) where I worked in both France and Canada.  I gained valuable experience working in the history and heritage tourism fields, I travelled the world, I got paid while going to school, and I built up a network of connections that have already proven valuable since my employment ended.  One of the reasons I chose Royal Roads was the opportunity to do yet another co-op, and I look forward to starting tomorrow.

My position with Parks Canada (the national organization that operates the national historic sites) will have a lot of variation including implementing a business plan related to summer programs and promotions, communication with internal and external stakeholders, and possibly creating some new program ideas.  It is a great opportunity for me to try marketing in a well-established and large organization.  There will be many challenges (even just getting there as no buses go by the site) and a steep learning curve over the 13 weeks I’m at the Fort, but I look forward to the challenges and to working with the amazing team there (I’ve heard great things from my friends who have worked there).

Great spot for a wedding!

I’ve already had some great experiences at Fort Rodd Hill including seeing my cousin get married on the rampart this past summer, and one of things I enjoy doing is walking around taking pictures of the old buildings and nature.  Here’s hoping they put my office in the lighthouse!

Can this be my office?




See more of my analogue Fort Rodd Hill photos here.

Note: There are remarkably few relevant quotes from The Wizard of Oz…

Older posts

© 2017 Ben Fast

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑