Marian Smales, a Reader's Digest reader from York, had a close encounter of the furry kind in Canada’s westerly reaches. Read all about her exciting experience in this great escape to Canada.

Victoria, Vancouver

A stroll down Bond Street, Regent Street, the Mall, King’s Road and Burlington Avenue. Obviously a visit to London? Actually, we were on a short break far from the British capital—literally and metaphorically. My husband John’s family live in Victoria on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada. A couple of years ago we went to join them for his parents diamond wedding and his sister’s silver wedding. As part of the celebrations, the family took a boat trip from Port Alberni to Bamfield, on the island’s west coast.

Bamfield is a tiny community, and the cargo boat on which we travelled makes the journey there and back twice a week. Once it docks, you have the option of spending a couple of hours wandering around the village and returning when the boat is ready to leave, or staying a couple of days and catching the second boat of the week. We opted for the latter, giving us a chance to experience both “halves” of the place. On the south of the inlet, some of the party stayed in a bb and the rest on the nearby campsite. Apart from a few dwellings and a general store, the focus of activity on this side was the Marine Research Centre.

The scents of the rainforest 

Waking up to the sounds and scents of the Pacific temperate rainforest was awesome—as they say in Canada—and we realised that the closest land beyond the horizon was probably Japan.

Exploring the other side of the river involves strolling along the boardwalk and maybe buying an ice cream from the tiny village store. It was here that I spotted my first wild bear, ambling along beneath the section of boardwalk we were standing on and making for the water’s edge to suss out a possible seafood lunch. The locals knew him, but feared he was becoming just a little too brazen!

Also on this side is the main access to the beach, with its clear rock pools and invitingly chunky boulders. To reach it, you walk through quiet rural lanes—the ones so fancifully (or ironically) named by the town planner.

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