Thrift Mentors and Fun in Victoria, Part One

Me, my mom and my sister – my two favourite thrifting companions!

I don’t know about you but my sister and I learned to thrift from an expert: my mom. If you google what it means to “get blood from a stone”, you’ll find her bio. This is the woman who always had 2 months rent in the bank, managed to give us camp, holidays, Disneyland, piano lessons and more, first on a housekeeper’s salary and eventually on the salary of a care aid (a job she LOVED.) She managed to buy a house and retire mortgage-free and part of what enabled her to do this was being careful with her money and living frugally. Mom canned food, baked her own bread and desserts, and always shopped thrift. If she didn’t have money for it, she didn’t buy it. If she could get it cheap, she did. She also gives back to her community – she volunteers at her church and also at the local MCC Thrift Shop, which she loves doing. Today, she is blessing her daughters with all kinds of gifts including a weekend away to Victoria to see the sites and, of course, to thrift.

Government House, Victoria BC

Today, I’m going to share with you a great thrifty travel-to-Victoria tip. We learned that Government House, the ceremonial home of all British Columbians and the home of the Lieutenant Governor, gives free tours one Saturday a month. It just so happened that we hit that Saturday when we visited in July. It was awesome.

(I’ve created some photo mosaics below, just click on them for a larger view)

The tours are led by volunteers, our tour guide was an historian and she was great. We learned all about the things that happen at Government House – like swearing in ceremonies of government, awarding of the Order of British Columbia, military dances, and more. The current house if the third house to sit on this spot, the previous two burnt down, quite spectacularly.

Lieutenant Governor David Lam was the first Chinese-Canadian to hold this position and he was also responsible for the amazing gardens that surround Government House. The gardens can be visited all year long, also for free. They are amazing and they are cared for by an army of 400 volunteers.

The property is also home to the Costume Museum, which displays a large variety of period clothing worn by visitors and residents of Government House. The museum is in the former Carriage House and entry is by donation. Cary Castle Mews and Tea Room is also here and is open from May to August. They serve light lunch fair and desserts at reasonable prices.

We spent nearly 5 hours here touring the home and gardens and even at that we didn’t see it all. We did a number of other typical touristy things in Victoria but my mom, my sister and I all agreed that this was the highlight of our weekend away, and IT WAS FREE. In fact, if you live in BC, it’s technically your house, so you really should go see it at least once.

This is not Government House, it’s FanTan Alley, a cool gateway to Victoria’s Chinatown. Just to show you we did other stuff too.

Next time, I’ll tell you about our thrift adventures and show off the things we scored!

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