How to Spend a Rainy Day in Victoria, BC

You’ve arrived in Victoria for a couple of days and it’s scheduled to rain on your first full day. With its many forests, lakes, and mountain views across the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver Island looks beautiful in the rain. But if you don’t have a car with you, what can you do?

Luckily, there are many options to keep you entertained in the downtown core of British Columbia’s capital city.

The first decision of the day is breakfast. Victoria has many great breakfast and brunch options, including Jam Cafe and Blue Fox Cafe. The problem is, because these restaurants are so popular, you often have to wait in line. If the lineup continues once you have your table, you might feel somewhat rushed to eat quickly so others can get inside (or maybe this is just me?). These restaurants are also quite small and can feel a little crammed.

For a relaxing sit-down experience in a light and spacious environment, consider Fathom Restaurant inside the Hotel Grand Pacific on Belleville St. At the time of writing, the menu includes avocado toast, coconut chia pudding, tiramisu pancakes, chorizo and bacon hash, salmon and shrimp tartine, and more exciting options. If you’re less of a sit-down breakfast person, the Hotel is also home to the cozy Courtyard Cafe which sells various warm beverages, smoothies, sandwiches and baked goods (all made in house) in a friendly, quiet atmosphere.

If you’re visiting Victoria during a weekday, consider taking a tour of the BC Legislature located next to Hotel Grand Pacific. You can go self-guided or join a guided tour. Times are posted on the legislature’s website. Be aware that visitors are required to go through security screening before entering the building. Unknown to many, the parliament building also has a small dining room with some tasty food for great prices.

The BC Legislature on a clear evening.

Also located on Belleville St is the Royal BC Museum. A lovely space, it hosts various exhibits and its large IMAX theatre features interesting documentaries that showcase Indigenous culture and the beautiful wildlife and landscapes of British Columbia.

From the museum, you can walk through the gardens of the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel and up Douglas St before turning right up Fort St. On this block there are a load of great local shops to peruse. You could spend hours browsing the book shelves at Russell Books, and plant lovers will like Brown’s the Florist. Just opposite, The Papery sells beautiful cards, journals, calendars, and craft decorations. If you’re looking to buy household and cosmetic goods that contain less plastic and are made more sustainably, The Good Planet Company sells various items including candles, bed linens, dish cloths, soaps, food containers, and more! Even if you’re not buying, it’s worth visiting this shop just to feel inspired by the various consumer options that are better for the planet. Just up the street, you can build your vinyl collection at Ditch Records & CDs, and across from here, Oscar & Libby’s is a great place to buy gifts for someone that likes puzzles and games.

By now, you might be ready for some lunch. In this block of Fort St, you’re in a prime area to try food from various cultures. Fans of Vietnamese cuisine can try Pho Boi, Burger Crush has a small menu that’s done well, and La Taqueria offers a more authentic Mexican menu (and strong margharitas!). A short stroll down either side of Blanshard St also opens up more options, including the Italian Deli that makes delicious paninis and sells imported goods, and a couple of ramen and Korean restaurants. For a sweet treat, the award-winning Crust Bakery on Fort St is known for its delicious pastries (blueberry custard is a must-try!) while the nearby Dutch Bakery offers special chocolates and cakes. (If you like marzipan, almonds and whipped cream, you’ll love the Dollar Roll!)

From here, you can head to Yates St by crossing through St. Andrew’s Square on View St. If you have any room left in your stomach while inside this small mall, you’ll probably be tempted by the smells from Empire Donuts, as well as the freshly made soup from Soupa Cafe.

Yates St is home to the Interactivity Board Game Cafe. Bring your friend(s), choose a game, and play away. You can also order food from the menu, which includes a long list of milkshake flavours. If boardgames aren’t your thing and you’re more of a pool person, you could spend a couple of hours at Peacock Billiards on Blanshard at View.

If you’d rather not do anything and just want to switch off for an hour or so, Sapphire Day Spa is on View St, while The Spa Magnolia on Courtney St is considered a luxury spa accomodation.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour

If you want to give your feet a rest and get out on the water, consider booking a tour with Victoria Harbour Ferry. This 45-minute tour in a sweet little water taxi shares information about the homeland of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, the development of Victoria as a city, and its naval history. You might see some sea otters and seals in the harbour. Even orca whales sometimes make a brief appearance! Visit the Victoria Harbour Ferry website for more information.

Locals love Victoria for its thrift stores, and there are many to choose from. Value Village on Store St is probably the biggest, but if you’d rather have your money go towards a non-profit, choose Women In Need on Pandora Avenue or the Salvation Army on Johnson St. You can find some great bargains!

When it comes to dinner, there are so many good choices in the downtown core that aren’t part of a chain. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, there’s Rebar near Bastion Square, or Green Cuisine in the Market Square off Johnson St. Tapas lovers will love Tapa Bar in Trounce Alley or Perro Negro on Yates St. For true farm-to-table cuisine, 10 Acres Bistro is a good choice. If you like the pub scene, Bard & Banker or the Irish Times on Government St might appeal to you. Fans of Italian can try the beloved Pagliacci’s on Broad St, Fiamo on Yates St, or the fancy Il Terazzo on Johnson St. If you like seafood, consider Finn’s or Nautical Nellies on Wharf St, or Ferris’ Oyster Bar on Yates St. For something more casual, Tacofino on Pandora Avenue is one of Victoria’s most popular eateries, making big burritos with a blend of Mexican and North American style.

The weather in Victoria can often change throughout the day. There‘s always a possibility you could get a lovely sunset in the evening!

If rain is forecast during your visit to Victoria, don’t despair. With a vibrant community of locally owned businesses and organizations, there are many great things to see, do and eat in this west coast city! Whether you like art, history, shopping, games, or being pampered, you’re sure to find something to keep you happy on a rainy day.


The author wishes to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Lekwungen speaking peoples, on whose lands the establishments mentioned in this article are based.

Santiago de Compostela – A City of Culture & Connection

September 2022 brought me and my fiancé to Lugo, Spain, for my friend’s wedding. We decided to make a trip out of this occasion by first exploring some of the other highlights of the north-western region called Galicia. I knew of the Camino de Santiago hike, a historic pilgrimage route that ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where Saint James the Great is said to be buried. While we wouldn’t have time to complete the trek, I jumped at the chance to visit the revered old town that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our flight landed at Santiago’s small airport late on a Tuesday evening. A cab driver drove us to the heart of the city in 15 minutes, at a fixed rate of 21 Euros. I was impressed by how well he knew the location – many taxi drivers these days end up asking their customer for directions!

We had booked three nights at Hotel Oxford Suites on Calle de San Francisco. Its close location to the Cathedral and photos of the traditional stone walls in its rooms had caught my interest. The website had said check-in was open until 11pm. It was almost midnight when we arrived. I had emailed earlier in the day to ask if there were special instructions for arriving late, but received no response. We approached the front door only to find it was locked. A sign translated to English said to WhatsApp call the number provided to gain access. We had our Canadian phones with us and no data. Uh oh.

Fortunately, the street was still quite busy with locals returning from the bars (or more likely, making their way to them!). I spotted a man who seemed similar to our age and asked him in my best Spanish if he spoke English. Thankfully he did, and he kindly called the number for us and told us the code to the hotel, our room number, and room code. The kindness of strangers strikes again!

When I went down to reception the next morning to pay, it became clear that English is less spoken in this autonomous region of Spain, but I liked this. It made the experience feel more authentic and was an incentive to practise the language. Galician is a language of its own here, and I would later be told by a native that many people from other parts of Spain can’t understand it. Probably the easiest thing for foreigners to remember is that in this region, “thank you” is pronounced “grath-ias” and not “gras-ias.”

Hotel Oxford Suites was more like a hostel, with a café bar downstairs that sold coffee for 2 Euros. My fiancé had pledged to have less coffee during this trip but he couldn’t resist the cheap prices! The room was comfortable but it was a little loud (inside and outside the hotel) so I would probably book a different place to stay if returning again. (Hotel Costa Vella looked lovely but was fully booked on our dates!)

The forecast had said there would be showers for the duration of our stay. Cloudy skies looked down on us as we walked towards the Cathedral, from where an instrument that sounded like a mix of the clarinet and bagpipes played throughout the day. Throngs of people filled the main square (Praza do Obradoiro), many of them hikers that had just finished the long trek. Cheering in celebration, they lay on the ground with their legs in the air in what seemed like both a demonstration of their fatigue and a sign of their respect to the symbolic building that stood before them. I’m not religious myself, but you don’t have to be to appreciate the beauty and significance of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

We walked down the cobbled streets of Rúa do Franco, passing restaurant windows with small octopus on display (a Galician tradition I didn’t feel compelled to try!) Other windows showed lobsters in tanks, awaiting their fate. On the more commercial street of Rúa da Caldeirería, we came across a small, unpretentious bakery called Pastelaría Tentación that sold empanadas, sandwiches, and pastries. The lady listened patiently as I tried to pronounce our choices. We would end up coming here again the next day.

We next made our way to Rúa das Ameas and passed through the Mercado de Abastos where various vendor stalls sold fruit, cheese, meats, and seafood. We bought some fresh peaches for 2 Euros and wandered back to the square, where even more hikers were celebrating the completion of their hike.

By now, the sun had broken through the clouds. We walked down Rúa das Hortas before taking a left up Rúa do Pombal and entering Parque da Alameda. And what a lovely park this was! People jogged along the tree-lined promenade while others sat reading or chatting on benches beside pretty flowerbeds. A calming sound of trickling water came from a fountain, in front of which there was a beautiful vista of orange roofs, church spires, and the Cathedral towers.

As we stood having a cuddle in front of this view, a same-sex couple came behind us and showed us a photo they’d taken of the town, with us included in the image. We offered to take their photo in return. We were amazed (but glad!) that there weren’t many other tourists in the park. It definitely provided what I would imagine are some of the best views in Santiago de Compostela. Looking outwards from the city, we saw rolling green hills in the distance.

As we made our way back to our hotel for a siesta, the sun decided to do the same. We felt even more lucky that we went to Paque da Alameda when we did!

My friend had recommended a tapas bar called El Papatorio for dinner. Evening meals are eaten later in Spain, with many restaurants not opening until 8 p.m. We sat in the Praza do Obradoiro trying to guess what all the different flags on surrounding buildings symbolized before making our way down Rúa do Franco again. A group of women who looked to be in their early twenties were walking up the street, smiling and cheering as they neared the end of the Camino hike. Upon hearing them, a group of elderly ladies that were sat on a restaurant terrace proceeded to applaud them.

There was a line-up outside El Papatorio, and of course, the view in front of me of the opposite restaurant included the window of lobsters in the tank. As we waited, one of the kitchen staff proceeded to pluck a lobster from the water. The lobster’s comrades proceeded to rush towards the other side of the tank, frantically climbing over each other in an attempt to hide themselves. It was actually quite uncomfortable to witness this behaviour and realize how aware they were of what was happening to their friend…and what would eventually happen to them!

As I pulled my eyes away with a newfound sympathy for lobsters, the couple next to us made a joke about the scene. They were an Australian couple in their 60s and had just finished the Camino hike. We ended up sitting next to them in the restaurant. They said they did the hike every year, but this was their first one since the pandemic began, now that they were finally allowed to leave Australia. This year was the busiest hike they’d ever experienced, with thousands more participants than usual. The couple’s kids were of similar age to us, and they shared empathy about the challenges our generation faces with rising inflation and house prices. The man advised us to plan financially for the future “so that in 30 years you can come back to lovely places like this.”

It was 50 Euros for two drinks and a large and delicious selection of tapas. As we paid our bill, I was reminded how nice it is not to have a tipping culture in Europe. The waiter brought back our exact change; there was no question of “Would you like change?” as I’ve noticed happen in some restaurants in Canada. His approach actually made me more inclined to leave a tip.

We walked back to our hotel with full bellies and warm hearts. The Cathedral stood luminous under a dark sky, like a lighthouse to the hikers seeking its welcome.

The next day, we took a day trip by train to the coastal town of Pontevedra, known for its charming medieval squares and many bridges. The journey took around 30 minutes and it was only 20 Euros for both return tickets. Views from the window showed lush green land. Galicia truly seems to be like the British Columbia of Spain!

On return to our hotel in Santiago de Compostela that evening, we would learn that the Queen had passed away. I suppose I felt a little more indifferent to this news than some Brits, but what’s for sure is that we will always think of Santiago de Compostela whenever we remember hearing this historic news!

We had dinner on the leafy terrace of a laid-back restaurant inside Casa Felisa hostel on Rúa da Porta da Pena. It was 40 Euros for two drinks and two meals that included sea bass and beef. The downside for people that aren’t used to eating dinner so late is that it’s hard to fall asleep when it feels like your stomach is still full to the brim…

On the Friday, we were leaving for Lugo in the afternoon. We spent the morning sitting in the square with our luggage, relaxing under the sun. For breakfast we chose to dine at Café Carrilana on Rúa de San Paio de Antealtares. A more modern and youthful café, it served yummy eggs bennies and fresh orange juice that was actually freshly juiced and not from a carton. A large group of people comprising of individuals from all around the world were sat at a table nearby. It seemed that they had met during the hike and, having formed strong bonds, were having a final meal together before everyone went their separate ways. After a German man said his goodbyes to everyone, an Irish woman quietly left the table to walk out of sight with him and say a more personal goodbye. Maybe they will see each other again, maybe not.

There was something truly joyful and uplifting about our time in Santiago de Compostela. We encountered so many friendly people – locals and fellow tourists. With all the hostile events going on around the world, we all need some amiable connections to remind us of the goodness in others. If you’re interested in visiting Spain and experiencing authentic culture, choose Santiago!


Interested in downloading this article for reference on your trip? You can using find it here on the GPSMyCity app!

12 Common Resume Mistakes by Expats

Happy 2022! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. In thinking about how I want to use this blog going forwards, I’ve decided to incorporate more of my day job into my posts. That is: human resources with a specialization in recruitment.

Over the past seven years, I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes for various positions. Many of these resumes have been from immigrants and expats. There are common mistakes made by all applicants, and there are common mistakes made specifically by newcomers.

I’ve decided to use my recruiting knowledge to try to help anyone who is planning to move to Canada. You’ve got your work permit, landed in Canada, found accommodation, and now you need to find a job. Below is my list of 12 common resume mistakes that can reduce someone’s chances of getting a job, and why.

This content has been copied and modified from an article I created and shared on my LinkedIn page. I am not an employment lawyer or registered immigration consultant. All advice provided is based off my personal knowledge and experiences, and does not represent the views of any specific organization. This post is intended as a guide and I am not responsible for the outcome of any job applications.

1. Sharing Personal Information

There’s a tendency for some applicants to share personal details on their resume, including their date of birth and marital status. Even if this is the custom in your home country, I recommend not doing this because it can open up the possibility of unconscious bias and discriminatory hiring. Although age and marital status are protected grounds under Canadian human rights legislation, many employers are unfortunately still guilty of age bias against people from older generations. The only personal information you need to include on your resume is your name, phone number or email, and town of residence.

If you’ve arrived in Canada with permanent resident or citizenship status, it’s a good idea to mention this on your resume. If you’re on a temporary open work permit, mention in your cover letter that you are authorized to work full-time in Canada. Don’t mention your visa expiry date because it may turn some employers off. Instead, wait until this question comes up in a pre-screen call, by which time you will have hopefully made a good impression on the recruiter and they’ll be happy to move to the next stage regardless.

2. Wrong Location

Some people that are applying for jobs outside of their town/province will list their location as being in the area where the employer is based. While I can understand the motivation behind this, it can be frustrating for a recruiter to think they have a promising candidate, only to discover later in the screening process that there will be delays because the candidate would need time to find a new place to live. This is especially the case if the company isn’t able to provide a relocation package or needs someone ASAP.

Better practice is to list your actual address but make note on your cover letter that you are able and willing to relocate should an offer be received. If you already have accommodation organized, for example with a friend or relative, make this clear too.

3. Spelling Mistakes & Formatting Issues

Everyone makes typos from time to time. Some employers will excuse a spelling mistake, especially if the applicant is an ESL speaker and the position applied for does not require much writing. However, if you’re applying for a communications or secretarial position, the employer will be less forgiving. This is especially true now when there is so much competition for jobs. If you have a few typos before the hiring manager has even got halfway down your resume, it’s possible they will immediately put you in the reject pile, even if you have good experience.

Additionally, some resumes are very untidy and confusing to look at. They might have inconsistent font styles and sizes, only list employment dates for some positions and not others, or list their past jobs in random orders. To a hiring manager, a sloppily presented resume shows a lack of respect to the application process by suggesting it isn’t being taken seriously. Again, you might be rejected before the hiring manager has got to the bottom of the first page.

Make sure you list the job title, employer name, and employment dates for each position to create consistency and prevent confusion about your employment history. Generally, jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top.

4. Language & Terminology Differences

When I arrived in Canada, I was surprised by how certain terminology used in England wasn’t recognized in this English-speaking country. This includes job titles. For example, people in England say “waiter” or “waitress”, while Canadians tend to say “server”. In England, they often say “air steward” but here they say “flight attendant.” Some terms are quite obvious to translate, however, if a hiring manager is not familiar with the terminology you’re using on your resume and they have hundreds of applicants for one position, it’s very possible you’ll miss out.

When writing a resume, it makes sense to adapt your spelling to the country you’ll be working in. Canada uses a combination of British and American spellings, but generally it uses more Z’s than S’s (recognize vs recognise, analyze vs analyse, etc.).

5. Too Much Emphasis on Education

A mistake British applicants often make is listing all their education credentials on their resume. To be honest, this is often a waste of time and space because many Canadian hiring managers don’t know what an A-level, A*, or 2:1 is. Unless the job ad requests it, hiring managers don’t need to know each module you studied at university and what your grades were. In most cases, they are more interested in knowing about your practical experience.

If the job ad requests a resume and not a CV, keep it simple by just listing the highest level of education you have, your subject, and the year you graduated. If it’s required for you to list your degree grade, it’s best to convert it to the equivalent Canadian GPA.

Another issue with listing your entire education history in detail is that it can make you seem over-qualified for a position. PhD students in particular can have a difficult time finding jobs for this reason. If your resume shows you have a very specialized education but you are applying for a junior-level job that only requires a secondary school diploma, hiring managers might have concerns about your commitment.
Structure your resume based on the job specifications in the job description. If more emphasis is placed on practical experience over education, focus on highlighting the former.

6. Too Long/Wordy

Most employers in Canada will ask for a resume vs a CV. CVs are longer, with more details on education and experience. Some people think a resume should only be one page long. I disagree with this personally, but think three pages is a good maximum. Every time I’ve read a five-page resume, I’ve felt that it could have easily been condensed, with repeated or less relevant information removed. Brevity is key. Some job applicants say a lot on their resume without actually saying anything. Some repeat information through the disguise of different wording. A waffling resume might raise concerns about your ability to identify and select important information.

If you’ve had the same role for many years but performed it for a few different employers, consider using a functional resume style. In this format, you first summarize the main skills and experience you’ve demonstrated across all positions, and then list the employment organizations, titles, and dates after.

7. Unnecessary Employment Information

Following on from the above, some newcomers (commonly younger ones) feel a need to include on their resume every single job they’ve had. They perhaps think that showing they’ve been working since they were in secondary school will impress employers. Truth is, employers more often care about quality and not quantity. If you have a long resume that shows a variety of different jobs, it might be unclear to the hiring manager what your interests and best skills are.

If the job description notes they require someone with three years of experience in a specific role, the hiring manager is likely to lean towards the resume that has highlighted experience in that specific role, even if it’s the only work experience that’s listed. That’s because this resume will suggest a greater interest in and commitment to the job.

If you’re in your late twenties and have been working professionally since you were 21, there’s no need to include weekend jobs you had in your late teens. Focus on tailoring your resume to the position you’re applying for and include the jobs that show relevant skills.

8. Tailored to the Wrong Field

In addition to the above mistake of including too much generic information, there’s also a mistake of including too much specific information that’s irrelevant to the job being applied for.

If you have a retail background but are applying to be an admin assistant in the provincial government, having a skills summary that highlights your experience boosting revenue and exceeding sales targets is likely going to make the hiring manager wonder why you’re applying for the job. They might question your career goals and have concerns about commitment. Although the accomplishments you’ve listed might be impressive generally, if they’re not useful or applicable to the role, they won’t seem that valuable to the employer.

Depending on your career interests, it’s good practice to keep a template of resumes that can be modified for different positions, e.g. administration, customer service, marketing, etc. People with an engineering background might have one template for this, one for quality assurance, and another for project management.

9. Stretching

Stretching a resume involves exaggerating or embellishing certain details to sound more impressive. This could include adding a course that you haven’t yet finished in order to seem more knowledgeable, extending employment dates by a couple of months in order to suggest more commitment, adjusting a job title to suggest more seniority, or adding job responsibilities you didn’t have in order to appear more skilled and in line with the job specifications. These might seem like minor adjustments, but if reference checks reveals the discrepancies, it could raise concerns about how honest and trustworthy you are.

When preparing your resume and cover letter, remember that if offered an interview, you will need to be able to back up any statements you make with an example. There’s no point noting that you improved office processes if you can’t give an example of an occasion you did this and how.

10. Copy-and-Pasting Job Descriptions

Some applicants, including native English speakers and ESL speakers, will copy and paste a previous job description onto their resume when summarizing their employment history. Someone very experienced in reviewing resumes will be able to tell when this has happened. A potential issue with copy and pasting is that some employees don’t end up performing all duties listed in the job description. Perhaps they resigned or were let go before having a chance to take on some of the responsibilities. Inclusion of such content would therefore mean your resume is untruthful. A thorough reference check with a direct supervisor will verify job duties that were performed. Again, concerns about honesty might result.

There’s nothing wrong with referencing a previous job description to help you remember the duties you had, but the content should be rewritten in your own words.

11.  Tone

The tone of your resume is something that can inspire a hiring manager’s first impression of you as a person – in positive or negative ways. Sometimes, in an attempt to highlight their skills and experience, a candidate comes across boastful and this makes me wonder how good they would be at working in a team. On other occasions, a candidate has come across as quite casual and informal, which has raised questions about how professional they would be in the workplace and as a representative of an organization. Such impressions might be made consciously, or they might be completely unintended and the result of a language barrier. Before submitting a resume, ask a friend to read over it to assess how “likeable” you sound.

12.  Too Much Emphasis on Hobbies

Listing hobbies helps give the hiring manager an idea of the type of person you are, but should be approached carefully. Some people mention hobbies because they think doing so will make them seem like a good cultural fit. For example, they’re applying for a customer service position at a cricket ground, and they happen to love playing cricket. While this may seem like a good match, the hiring manager wants to be sure applicants will work hard and are not just applying for the job for any perks (like watching cricket for free!). If this candidate devotes their cover letter to talking about cricket and not about their relevant skills and job experience, the hiring manager will likely be suspicious about their motives and hesitant to move forward.

It’s fine to mention your interest in what the organization does, but keep this brief. I also recommend avoiding listing hobbies like “Going out with friends” or “Watching TV” because these don’t add anything of value.


I hope you find these tips helpful. Good luck with your application! 

Trail of Worth – FAQ

Before I head back to the UK for several weeks, I thought I’d share a Q&A about my book, Trail of Worth. Below are some typical questions I’ve been receiving!

How did you come up with the title?

The title came to me as I was halfway through writing the book. I knew I wanted something with three words that would reflect the themes of the book, namely that of self-worth, while also carrying a sense of mystery. “Trail” refers to not only the geographic location of the story’s setting and the significance of hikes and running in the book, but also to the main protagonist’s journey of finding her feet in a foreign country.

To work out a title, I wrote down two songs I not only really like but that remind me of the time being written about – River of Dreams by Billy Joel and Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. I then played around with some metaphorical phrases and Trail of Worth suddenly appeared in my mind!

How did you decide on the book’s front cover?

The cover of the book is actually a photo of me taken by a friend. The scene of the hike on which it was taken was initially featured in the book, but I decided to remove it during the editing process.

It wasn’t my initial idea to use this photo for the cover. I first provided the designer with an idea of an image and colours, but the result didn’t match my vision. It looked too much like a fantasy book. I then remembered this photo and thought it made sense to use it. It’s quite weird to think that a candid photo taken during the time written about ended up being used on the cover! As if it was all meant to be…

How did you come up with character names?

Creating new names was fun! I combined maintaining confidentiality with using names that I thought suited the personality of the characters. I used the name “Sara” for my character because I love the song by Fleetwood Mac. Its opening few lines seem to speak to me and a particular time and feeling in the story.

What were your favourite characters to write about?

I did enjoy the challenge of showing the personalities of both Harry and Will. Both are very interesting characters with unique traits. I also loved showing the friendship between Sara and Tyler. It was important to me that I highlight how possible it is for a woman to have great platonic friendships with males. Carrie is another character that was special to write about, because her introduction in the book signals a real sense of personal progress for Sara.

What was your favourite chapter to write?

Chapter 30 was my favourite chapter to write. It was admittedly bittersweet, but writing about falling in love was nice – those early stages where you get the flutters and it feels like a dream. There is also quite a bit of symbolism in that chapter when it comes to the hike and the surrounding wildlife. Interestingly, this symbolism wasn’t planned but rather was something I noticed during the editing process.

There are quite a few references to music in the book. What are some of the pertinent songs from that time?

There are a few scenes where references to music have been made to help set tone and convey emotion. For copyright reasons, musician names and song titles couldn’t be mentioned explicitly. I won’t give the exact names of the songs because it’s quite personal and I also think it’s more fun for a reader to try to guess what they are, but artists referred to in the narrative include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Marley.

Trail of Worth covers a range of topics. How would you summarize it in a few words?

I’d describe it as a love story – not just love with others, but love with self. I say this because at the centre of all the varied topics and themes is a person trying to achieve a sense of personal fulfillment and self-acceptance.

What were some of the most challenging things about writing this book?

In posts before the book was published I’ve talked about the challenge of being selective with content when writing a memoir. I wouldn’t say I struggled with writer’s block per se because I had the inspiration of real-life events to write about vs making up fiction. Probably the most challenging thing was reliving some of the very emotional events – setbacks, loneliness, witnessing the mental health struggles of a partner, etc. But overall, it was a cathartic experience as revisiting those events after a while helped me see certain things in a new light. I wrote this book for others but I’ve also written it for myself too.

What are you most proud of as the writer?

I’m really pleased with the dialogue. I wanted to include authentic conversations – messy, awkward and vulnerable moments vs cliche, surface-level dialogue. This is an aspect of the book that people seem to really enjoy, which is great. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed recreating dialogue because I’ve always thought of myself as being a more descriptive travel writer. But I do find human behaviour very interesting, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much.

As the author, it’s also very fulfilling to know that the themes I wanted to portray have come across and resonated with readers. I’m really happy that people have been relating to certain details. Another thing I’m proud of is that fact that males are also getting something out of this book. I never wanted to target women only with this book, but it’s very much a female perspective and about the woman’s experience. It’s great that men are getting an insight into this and perhaps learning something or becoming more empathetic.

All this said, I haven’t read the printed copy of the book yet. I’m too scared to! As the author and a perfectionist, there are bound to be little things I don’t like that might make zero sense to anyone else.

Will you write a sequel?

I’m not opposed to writing a sequel but that likely wouldn’t be for a while. There are certainly some other topics and experiences since that time which would be interesting to write about. I’d like to write other books too – perhaps a little more fictional but still using real-life experiences for inspiration. I don’t feel any rush to do this though – when the time is right I’ll know!

If you’ve read Trail of Worth and have additional questions, let me know! I’ll keep updating this post as they come in.

If you haven’t read the book but are now curious to get a copy, it’s available online from Amazon (choose your country) and Barnes & Noble. If you live in Victoria, BC and would like to buy the book, I have some hard copies available! Please send me a message on the Contact page and I’ll arrange pickup/drop off or mail delivery.

For more commentary on the book, you can follow me on Instagram @shannelizabethco

Thanks for reading!

My 10-Year Anniversary with Canada

August 2nd, 2021 marked ten years since I first stepped foot in Canada.

I remember the teary goodbye with my mum at Gatwick Airport and sitting on the plane next to a mother and daughter from Quebec, smiling to conceal my nerves. As I walked into the the arrival lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport, I clutched my backpack as if holding onto the only friend I had. When I stepped off the bus in downtown Toronto and gazed around at the tall buildings, I felt tiny. For a moment, the sound of traffic blurred out as I took in my new surroundings. The hustle and bustle of the city was quite overwhelming, and I quickly got lost. The sight of drivers turning right on a red light confused me, and I was thrown off in a shop when I learned tax was added to a product’s price at the till.

With some inner pep talks, I began to find my feet. I pushed through the nerves to approach a group of people sat on my hostel’s patio. The next morning, I smiled with relief when two Italian girls on the same Niagara Falls tour as me invited me to join them for the day. When we approached their stop on the way home, I held a scrap of paper in my hand with my name on it, only to smile with relief once again when they turned and asked the question that seemed so common in those days of, “Do you have Facebook?” A couple of days later, I shared a cab with a stranger after both of us missed the bus to the airport.

It was when I flew west to the Rockies and bussed through BC that I realized this country would remain special to me for all the memories made. But I definitely didn’t expect that ten years later, I’d be a permanent resident soon to be applying for dual citizenship, with a book published about my experience of moving here.

In reflecting on that first visit to Canada, I feel a corny sense of pride because I realize just how much I kept putting myself out of my comfort zone. Finding my way around unfamiliar places, introducing myself to a room full of chatting people, asking strangers on the street for directions, reacting to unexpected changes, moving forward after losing my backpack.

I always think of that time in Canada as the time when “life really became fun.” It was definitely fun before then, but that experience spawned a more confident and adventurous me – someone who saw the world as her oyster, who realized that we’re just tiny specks of dust in a huge galaxy and there are so many bigger issues than a few minutes of us feeling awkward or embarrassed. I began to approach new experiences with less worry and more faith that “things will work out.”

When I consider the increased rates of anxiety among younger generations today, I sometimes wonder if some of these cases stem fom these individuals having been too sheltered and having not put themselves out of comfort enough. I think back to the time I was fourteen years old and my mum drove me to a school friend’s party in the nearest town. We arrived late because it had been snowing, and when we pulled up outside the town hall, I heard loud music and laughing from inside. For some reason that I still don’t understand, I was suddenly overcome by nerves and asked mum to drive me home.

I could have done the very same thing at Gatwick Airport when I caught my mum crying, but instead, I swallowed the emotional feelings and turned around to walk towards departures. How different my life would be if I hadn’t turned around that day.

I truly believe that making progress towards a more fulfilling life (however you personally define that) comes from challenging yourself and putting yourself out of your comfort zone. At first it feels daunting and awkward and uncomfortable, but when you take the plunge and make those little steps, you start to realize that the world isn’t as scary as you might have once thought. Sometimes you need to push aside your ego and push through your anxiety and take the opportunities before you. Progress won’t be achieved without taking some risks and navigating some challenges. It’s these experiences that build character and make you a more confident, competent person.

It’s because of the associations with increased independence and confidence that I have such a soft spot for Canada. I grew up a lot during those five weeks in the country, and I’ve continued to grow up since moving here almost five years ago.

I write this post with an awareness of the privileges I have as a resident of Canada. I can love and appreciate this country for my own reasons while also knowing it needs to do better for others. I respectfully acknowledge the Indigenous peoples, on whose unceded territories I am fortunate to live and explore. I wish for more harmony and less hostility in the ongoing process of reconciliation.

New Book Available for Purchase | Trail of Worth

It’s been a busy couple of months balancing my full-time job with finishing up my book, Trail of Worth. After 18+ months of effort, I’m very excited to announce that this book has now been published!

In writing Trail of Worth, I’ve tried to:

  • Give an honest portrayal of moving overseas and the various challenges it entails
  • Take a candid look at relationships and their fascinating complexities
  • Capture the way people (especially women) can perceive themselves during their twenties
  • Provide a commentary of travel experiences
  • Demonstrate the importance and influence of family and friendships

In writing this piece of creative non-fiction, the most important thing for me was to be authentic – to show the main protagonist’s flaws and strengths, the mistakes and moments of vulnerability as well as the little wins. There is genuine dialogue and I have not catered to a “mainstream” narrative. I’ve tried to create something that is both realistic and relatable.

Trail of Worth covers many themes and topics – travel, immigration, careers, running, friendship, relationships, mental health, and self-worth. Some of the content will make you smile, some will make you think, some may trigger sad or painful memories, and some I hope will inspire. If you’re a member of a book club, this story would be a great choice for initiating meaningful conversations.

Trail of Worth is written from the perspective of a female, millenial expat. It’s based on actual events recorded from the time, but identities have been changed. Interpretations of events and behaviours in the story will be influenced by the readers’ own attitudes and life experiences. I would simply encourage anyone reading the book to try to read it with an open and reflective mind.

Here’s a summary of what my editor had to say when she read the manuscript.

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Something my editor mentioned when reviewing Trail of Worth was how relatable the story would be for women in their 20s-30s. However, she also said that as an older woman, she really enjoyed the story – it made her reflect on her younger years and the experiences she had.

I think you would enjoy this book if you:

  • Have experienced or would like to experience moving overseas
  • Like to travel or have travelled solo as a female
  • Have experienced what has felt like a quarter-life crisis or a loss of self-worth
  • Have been in a long-distance relationship
  • Have struggled with emotionally difficult relationships, including those impacted by mental health issues
  • Are a competitive runner or simply find fulfillment in this activity
  • Have worked in recruitment and HR
  • Have struggled with age bias and Imposter Syndrome in your career
  • Can’t relate to any of the above but are curious 🙂

Links for Purchase:

Trail of Worth is available to buy online in Kindle or paperback format from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and some other small online retailers.

If your country doesn’t have an Amazon site, you can get worldwide shipping from

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon US/EU/Worldwide

Amazon Australia

Barnes & Noble (US customers)

Book Depository

If you’d like to receive more commentary on the book and further insights into the topics discussed, you can follow my main Instagram page @shannelizabethco

And if you’re interested in completing and publishing a book review, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Thank you in advance for reading Trail of Worth. I hope you enjoy this story that is very special to me 🙂

Publishing a Book | Cover Design

Thanks for following along on my book publishing journey. In my last post I talked about the editing process. That’s probably the most important part in the whole complex process of releasing a book, but perhaps the most exciting part of the process is the cover design. That’s when it starts to feel real!

To get started, the publishing company asked me to fill out a questionnaire that outlined my vision for the cover. In my mind I very clearly pictured a path winding through tall trees with a small figure walking under their gaze. I really liked the idea of a blue-grey colour that captured the moodiness of a British Columbia forest.

I tried to give as much detail as possible for the designer. Doing this virtually through a questionnaire rather than in person was quite challenging. What seems clear to you might not seem clear and comprehensible to another person.

It took a week for the first draft to come back. I had been told that the first draft was unlikely to match what I was looking for, and sure enough that was the case. While the designer had included the elements I’d mentioned, they weren’t presented in a way that matched my vision. I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing this book cover on the shelves.

I immediately started to leave notes on the cover to help the designer make changes. A little less blue, a smaller figure, taller trees. In doing so, I had doubts about how effective how my feedback would be, and whether the proposed changes would be enough.

Then I recognized the main flaw. The cover image was more suited to a fantasy or horror genre, not to a memoir. While I still liked the idea of the setting, the colours were very mysterious and quite haunting. Even the font seemed more like the style you’d see on a sci-fi book. The cover didn’t match the theme of the book at all, and it was because my vision hadn’t matched the theme.

I reluctantly accepted that my initial vision for the colours would need to change slightly, in order to avoid confusing readers about the kind of book they would be reading. I began to consider the different colours I could use, but none left me inspired.

In my moment of contemplation, I suddenly remembered that a photo had been taken on my camera a few years ago that matched the vision I had. A small figure on a trail under tall trees. The crazy thing is that this photo was taken in the period featured in the story. Maybe it was all meant to be..!

Feeling inspired again, I decided to send this photo to the designer so they could use it for the cover. I also requested changes to the text font, size and positioning. At first I felt bad for potentially seeming picky and demanding. Then I reminded myself that I am paying for this service, and that the book cover is extremely important.

This isn’t the book’s cover image, but it’s definitely got some similarities!

The revised cover came back just under a week later, and it looked so much better! The designer had done a fantastic job of adapting the photo to the front and back cover. And because it was a photo owned by me, the book suddenly felt even more authentic and special. I began to feel really excited at the thought of people holding the book in their hands.

At this stage I edited the blurb slightly and requested a few minor revisions to the text styling. There were just a few small things that I felt could be tweaked before I felt 100% comfortable. The updated version was returned to me in less than a week, and it looked spot on.

Now I’m just waiting for my editor to finish the copy edit. It’s been three weeks since I sent my updated manuscript for the edit, and I’m feeling restless! The end is in sight and I just want to be reviewing those edits. However, I’m also very aware that high-quality editing takes time, and my book is around 120,000 words. I’d of course prefer the editor to put a lot of care into the process, than to rush through and compromise quality. But it will definitely be an exciting day when that email comes in…

I look forward to sharing Trail of Worth with you, once complete!

Publishing a Book | The Editing Process

In my last blog post I shared that I am in the process of publishing a book. Since December, I’ve been working on editing my manuscript. Today I’m going to talk a little more about that part of the process.

The most challenging things I’ve found about the editing process are 1) being selective and 2) not being too much of a perfectionist.

I used journals to frame a lot of my manuscript’s content. Having these references was super helpful for dialogue and structure. The downside was that I sometimes struggled to decide whether something should or shouldn’t be included. I almost seemed to feel a need to do justice to something that had happened in real life. I might feel compelled to write about an interesting side-event, even though I knew it didn’t necessarily fit in with the course of the narrative.

It was this challenge that particularly influenced me to request an editorial evaluation from the book publishing company. This is where a professional editor reads your manuscript without making any changes on the document, and then writes a summary of its strengths and weaknesses.

It took two weeks for my editorial evaluation to come back, and I really appreciated the editor’s input. I’m fairly confident in my writing ability and had been pretty satisfied with my content, but hearing an external person’s perspective was really valuable. I really came to realize that some of the content I had didn’t add much to the story and its purpose. It might have been an interesting detail, but oftentimes it was actually disrupting the flow and pace of the story. Having the impartial eyes of someone I didn’t know really helped me cut out the needless content I felt committed to!

A highlight of my editorial evaluation was seeing that the editor felt the central theme of the book was clear and believed in the importance of its message. I’m sure a lot of writers go through moments of doubt during the process where they wonder if their story is “even any good” and worth sharing. After getting the editor’s feedback, I felt encouraged. I also felt like her feedback wasn’t given for the sake of being critical, but was given with my best interests and those of my book in mind.

One of the great things about an editorial evaluation when self-publishing is that you have the power to do what you want with the feedback. You might elect to request a substantive edit where the editor studies your content in-depth to suggest changes to the flow, voice and characterization etc., or you might just make a few minor changes and then request a copy edit, or you might not make any changes and just go straight to publish.

In my case, the editor recommended a copy edit (which is standard). She also recommended some changes to the content, and said that if I didn’t feel confident making these changes on my own, she’d be happy to help with a substantive edit.

I chose to work on the changes myself. I loved the challenge of it. I almost felt like I was back in school, improving a draft of a story an English teacher had read. It was a really fun project for me because it allowed me to test my skills as a writer while maintaining creative control.

I spent two weeks working on the edits while continuing to work full-time. Some of the edits were pretty quick and simple changes, while others took more thinking and a few tries of different approaches. Overall, it was a really rewarding process. I had a goal of finishing the edits in two weeks, but I also felt it important to be flexible. As mentioned in my last blog post, the editing process shouldn’t be rushed.

On the day I went to re-submit the manuscript to the publisher, I found myself having last-minute thoughts of “Maybe I’d better read that section one more time”. I would then find little things to change – adjective or adverb replacements, rephrasing of a sentence, removal of a word. That’s where the perfectionist in me comes out. Even after re-submitting, I’ve made notes of little things I want to change once I get the copy edit back. I don’t think this is a bad thing; I just hope I won’t be doing it once the final copy has been sent for interior layout design ;). There’s definitely a fine balance between putting effort into ensuring something’s quality and obsessing unnecessarily over tiny things!

Tips for Other First-Time Writers (from a Non-Expert!)

·  Be selective. Journals can be a great source of inspiration for creating content and dialogue, but it’s important to keep the content relevant to the narrative and purpose of the story.

·  Take your time. Having a deadline to work towards can be motivating, but be mindful that life happens and things can get delayed. Once you are finished writing, don’t rush to send the manuscript off to an editor. Take time to re-read and make revisions until you are completely satisfied.

·  Get an editorial evaluation. Even if you consider yourself a skilled writer, getting a summary of the manuscript’s strengths and some recommendations for improvement is really helpful. It gives you a base off which to make more edits that will only make your book better!

·  Before submitting your manuscript for an editorial evaluation, prepare notes for the editor. Explain the story’s purpose and your goals for the book, provide context behind the style and methods you’ve used, and summarize the key areas you’re looking for feedback on. This helps ensure you get as much value as possible from the evaluation.

·  Be open to feedback. Hearing the opinion of a stranger about something so personal to you, even if it’s constructive criticism, can be daunting. But the feedback is ultimately coming from someone who cares about quality writing and good stories. It could be extremely valuable to you, not just for a current project, but for future projects as well.

·  Get a copy edit. If you don’t want to pay much for editing services, it’s still recommended to get a copy edit at minimum. This helps ensure a polished and professional finish to your book. I consider myself a pretty strong writer, but I knew there would be grammatical or structural errors I’d made.


Thanks for following my book publishing journey! I’m now waiting to get the copy edit back, after which the editing process will be complete. My next blog post will be about the cover design process!

If you’re a published author or are in the process of publishing a book, feel free to leave your thoughts and tips on the editing process below 🙂

I’m Publishing a Book!

Many people seemed to spend their free time in 2020 making a baby. I spent it writing a book, and I’m excited (and nervous!) to share that I will be publishing it in the coming months 😊

I’ve been writing since I was a kid – pony stories, poems, journals, articles in the local paper. There was a time when I wanted to be an author, but it quickly got to the point where it didn’t seem like a realistic way of making a living. However, the dream of one day writing a book lived on. The issue was that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. I had ideas for novels, but never one that really inspired a devoted effort. So, I just carried on writing my blog and journaling. Through journaling, I’ve always enjoyed the process of identifying interesting trends and themes from daily life.

Scribbling next to my childhood best friend, Tom

Then I moved to Canada at the end of 2016 and experienced a big life change that led to some interesting experiences and challenges. Some experiences were unique to my situation, while others exemplified life events and scenarios common to women in their mid-twenties.

In December 2019, I was home alone for Christmas. During a state of restless boredom, I felt a sudden motivation to write. I thought back to my first year in Canada, and the experiences in my first year overseas ended up giving me the inspiration I was looking for. So, I decided to write a piece of creative non-fiction. I opened up my laptop one evening and set myself a goal of finishing writing a draft manuscript by the end of 2020.

About the Book

An honest portrayal of moving overseas, this book creatively explores the various themes and challenges that accompany both an expat life and the general life of a woman navigating her mid-twenties. From adjusting to a new environment, seeking a fulfilling job, establishing oneself in an occupation, and handling complex relationships, the book’s theme centers around self-worth during a quarter-life crisis. It’s a story that will make readers reflect on their own experiences, with the purpose of inspiring and uplifting them.

The Writing Process

A year may sound like a long time in which to write a manuscript, but when you have a full-time office job and don’t want to spend all of your free time staring at a computer screen, it starts to feel more reasonable.

Before starting, I had a good idea of how I wanted to structure the book, the key content I wanted to include, and the main theme I wanted to be conveyed. Some people know what they want their book’s title to be right from the beginning. I personally didn’t have a title in mind when I started, but it came to me a few months into writing.

The social distancing regulations that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic became a strange convenience, because they gave more reason for me to focus on writing in my free time.

For some reason, I’ve always been secretive with my writing. Even as a kid scribbling pony stories, I would hide them away when my family came to look. I think it was because I was shy about others reading what I wrote. During this writing process, it was only my partner that knew I was writing a book. Our suite doesn’t have a separate office for work or writing, so I quickly came to appreciate how great he was at leaving me to it! The reason I decided not to tell anyone else was because I wanted avoid any requests for updates, and just focus on the book without feeling any intrusion or pressure.

One thing I noticed was how easy it was to get fatigued while writing, especially if covering a topic that was complex or emotional in nature. Sometimes my creativity seemed to be lacking. The longest break I took from writing was around 3 weeks. However, there were other times when the words just seemed to flow freely and before I knew it, it was almost midnight!

I met my goal of finishing drafting the content in December 2020, but then my own revisions and edits started. This is such an important part of the process. I found that there were many things I’d written almost a year earlier that I wanted to change, particularly with regards to content and structure. Some of the content no longer seemed to be relevant or add value. In some areas, there was a lack of flow, or I felt things could be written more creatively. I ended up re-writing several sections of the manuscript.

The revisions process took around two months until I was satisfied with the manuscript. In addition to content editing, I also did copy editing to the best of my non-professional ability. Sometimes during my work day, I would suddenly think of something that I felt could be edited or added, and I’d make a note in my phone for later. The revision process is something that really can’t be rushed. It’s amazing what a rested pair of eyes can see! Even if you plan on getting the book professionally edited (which I have), it’s important to ensure you have a relatively polished manuscript in advance.

Choosing a Publishing Path

The next step in the process was deciding how I wanted to publish the book – the traditional route or self-publishing. I’m lucky in that I had knowledge of two experiences. My brother’s book, The Rule (Jack Colman) was published by Harper Voyager in 2015, while my dad self-published his memoir, The Right Thing? (Dr. Richard Colman) in 2014.

Both routes have their pros and cons, depending on the writer’s goals. Getting published the traditional route still carries more prestige, while self-publishing is sometimes termed “vanity publishing”. I get why this term is used for some self-publishers, however, I think it’s also quite offensive to the talented writers who simply feel tired of waiting to hear back from agents, or worry that their book will lose its integrity if managed by someone with a different priority. Does “vanity publishing” mean that artists who sell their paintings at local street markets are “vanity artists”? Are people who turn their passion into a business “vanity business owners”? Frankly, it’s the “stars” of trashy reality TV shows who seemingly have no problem securing a deal to publish a book about their life that are the vain ones.

Here are the reasons I’ve decided to go the self-publishing route (in case anyone is debating the options for their own manuscript):

  • I like the idea of having ownership over something I’ve created (this book is literally my baby!) instead of having it be owned and managed by someone else.
  • Because the book is based on real-life personal events, it’s important to me that I maintain a large amount of control over the content. With self-publishing, I can maintain full creative control. I have the final say on any edits suggested, whereas traditional publishing can take away a lot of the writer’s control. I would hate for someone to try to change the content of my book to make it fit what they might see as a more mainstream (aka $$) narrative.
  • Self-publishing does not mean you’ll have a terribly written book that’s filled with typos. You can have your manuscript professionally edited with a polished design. You have to pay for this service, but if you believe the story is worth sharing, why wouldn’t you invest in its success?
  • It is extremely competitive and can take a long time to get a literary agent and/or be offered a deal by a publishing company. This isn’t a reason not to try, however I’m personally at the point where I don’t want to wait months to hear back from an agent (or not hear back at all!), only to then wait even longer for the work to be published.
  • I’m not writing this book to launch a new career as a full-time author. I’m writing it to share a story that I believe (and have been told my editor!) has an important message. I’m also writing it to tick off something from wish list. Perhaps that’s the vain part 😉
  • You get higher royalties when you self-publish. Who doesn’t like being rewarded more for their writing skills and hard work?!
  • One thing the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of supporting local.

If I write another book in future, I would definitely be open to trying the traditional publishing route. But for this particular story, self-publishing seems to work well for me. Plus, if I did want to write more books in the future, having an already published book could be helpful in securing an agent.

Side note: I recently learned that The Martian was initially self-published in 2011, before a traditional publishing company bought the rights a few years later. Then it was turned into a film! That’s pretty cool.

To get things going, I researched two local publishing companies in Victoria. I contacted both for more information. Ultimately, I opted for the one whose website content spoke more to my interests and goals, whose publishing consultants seemed less sales-driven, and whose publishing package offered better value for what I was looking for.


I’m currently working on content edits, and am excited for the next stage! I’ll be posting updates on my Instagram page if you’d like to follow along 🙂

Have you written and self-published a book? What tips would you share?

15 Great Hikes to try on Southern Vancouver Island

Happy 2021! Although we are in a new year and vaccinations are underway, the coronavirus isn’t showing signs of going away anytime soon. With this in mind, it’s time to continue exploring local. For me this means enjoying the various hiking options around Victoria on southern Vancouver Island. If you’re planning a visit in the future, I recommend incorporating a few of these hikes into your itinerary!

Matheson Lake Regional Park
Located in the quiet region of Metchosin, Matheson Lake is circled by an undulating scenic loop trail, from which you can connect to other parks and trails, including the Galloping Goose bike trail. It’s a nice option for a peaceful after-work hike in the summer months, and a good swim spot too. On the way home, you can enjoy either a hearty meal or a tasty treat at the locally owned My Chosen Café. 

A lake surrounded by trees

Pickles’ Bluff Loop
Located in John Dean Provincial Park in North Saanich, this hike leads to great views of the Saanich Peninsula and surrounding ocean. It’s not uncommon to see eagles flying overhead as you sit on the ledge admiring the view in front of you.

Joceyln Hill via Caleb Pike
On a sunny summer morning, get up early for this hike in the Highlands. Fairly challenging at points, the trail offers some awesome view points overlooking Finlayson Arm and the Saanich Inlet. If you feel like a really long hike, you can follow the trail all the way over to the north side of Gowlland Todd Provincial Park. Doing this will take you to our next spot.

McKenzie Bight
Accessed either via the Timerbman Trail coming from Jocelyn Hill loop or from a wider trail starting at the north end of Gowlland Todd Provincial Park, McKenzie Bight is a surprise gem at the bottom of the forest. This picturesque ocean inlet is a great option for a swim and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some sea otters. In the winter months, a fog hangs over the distant evergreens, evoking classic Vancouver Island vibes. There are two trails you can take on your way back up; the Cascade Trail to the right of the bridge is a real thigh-burner, but in the winter season you will pass the pretty Cascade Falls.

Ocean with snowy hills in the background

Mt. Tzouhalem
A short drive east of the town of Duncan, this hike offers some great views of the sprawling Cowichan Valley. The hike involves an uphill climb before winding through forest to the famous white cross lookout point. This area also has several dirt bike trails, so don’t be surprised if you see a bike whizzing through the trees!

Mt. Wells Regional Park
Located past Langford, the fairly challenging hike up Mt. Wells takes you to a mossy rock outcrop that overlooks the Sooke Hills, Victoria, the Juan de Fuca Strait, and snow-capped mountains of Washington State. A good workout with great views as a reward. This park is also a popular bouldering spot. 

Snow-capped mountains behind fir trees

East Sooke Regional Park
Located just before the town of Sooke, this park is home to several trails of varying difficulty and length. The coastal trail is a popular option for dog-owners and endurance-walkers. If you’re looking for a more accessible trail or don’t feel like walking far, the easy walk to Iron Mine Bay takes you to a scenic beach with clear ocean water.

Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
The 10k flat loop around Elk Lake is a lovely outing for walkers or runners, especially during the autumn months when the fall colours are in full bloom. Accessible via public transit, this lake is home to Victoria City Rowing Club, and is also popular with windsurfers and water-skiers. Horseback riders tend to enjoy the trails around Beaver Lake.

Tree hanging over a lake on a sunny day

Mt. Douglas
Mt. Doug (as it’s more commonly known) is appreciated by many for its easy access from downtown Victoria. Various trails will take you to a viewpoint with stunning 360 views over the city, ocean, and surrounding Gulf Islands. Accessibility-wise, there is also the option to drive up to the top. A great place to watch a sunset, go for a run, or catch up with friends.

Mt. Finlayson
One of the most challenging hikes in the area, Mt. Fin as it’s known by locals has 360 views of hills swathed in evergreens. The steep trail starts in Goldstream Provincial Park, a short drive from downtown Victoria. If visiting in October, you can loosen your stiff legs after the hike with a leisurely stroll to the riverside to watch the yearly salmon run.

A rocky outcrop overlooking green hills

Mt. Work Regional Park
Adjacent to Gowland Todd Provincial Park, the steep hike from this park leads you to views over the Saanich Inlet. On a summer’s day, you can finish your hike by driving back down the road for a refreshing dip in Durrance Lake, and then follow it with a sandwich made fresh in front of your eyes at the Red Barn Market. 

Mystic Beach
Located along the Juan de Fuca Trail, this long beach awaits you after a 2k hike through tranquil forest. The trail is well-signed, however it is not wheelchair-accessible like some of the paths that lead to other beaches across this section of the coast. Mystic Beach is popular for its waterfall and rope swing, but it’s the vast collection of mussels covering the rocks that catches my eye whenever I go. 

Sandcut Beach
For a shorter and more accessible beach hike, consider Sandcut Beach which is located just on from French Beach Provincial Park. Depending on recent weather, a waterfall may flow onto the pebble beach. On the way home, consider stopping at the locally owned Shirley Delicious for a warm brew and tasty snack, or stop in Sooke town for a hearty meal and delicious slice of pie at Mom’s Café.

Sooke Potholes Regional Park
Enjoy exploring the rustic trail that leads up the river with its clear water and inviting pools. Expect to see varied wildlife (maybe even bears!) and people jumping off the cliffs. The turn off for this park is just before you reach the town of Sooke.


Gonzales Hill Regional Park
I include this one last because it really is the ideal option if you want to stretch your legs and see a nice view, but don’t feel like venturing far. Located off Fairfield Road and just up from Gonzales Bay, a short steep walk (or drive) up a side road will take you to the distinctive observatory, from where there are wonderful views of the neighbourhood, distant hills, and Juan de Fuca Strait. Although another great sunset spot, it’s equally enjoyable to watch moody skies brew over the ocean.

From beach scenes to mountain views, southern Vancouver Island offers so many great hiking options, and there are still many more I have yet to experience. Making a wishlist of places or trails to explore in your region can be a handy way to keep motivated and upbeat during this strange time. Which other hikes would you recommend in this area?