Lost in Vancouver Island!

This post is LONG overdue, but I have simply been lost in Vancouver Island! This place is absolutely breathtaking and very reminiscent of the beautiful northern and west coast of Sweden, where you get a daily dose of mountains, tall pines, ocean views and sea salt in the air.

Almost every day, we have been hunting for little crabs so that we can watch my little daughter giggle as they scamper across pebble-lined beaches. It has been incredibly calm and blissful, which helps a great deal, as I have had to overcome some personal issues over the past few months. It partly explains my MIA status, so I apologize. Vancouver Island is a good place to meditate over my life and discover a new place, which I really need right now.


Since the big Swedish midsummer holiday passed, I was recently searching for Swedish goods here on Vancouver Island, even though I had low expectations on what I would find. Part of the big celebration, besides dancing drunk around a fertility pole (which looks oddly enough like a garden sculpture of a penis), is to eat the ubiquitous potatoes and pickled “Matjes” style herring topped off with a delightful strawberry cream cake. Swedes LOVE midsummer, and welcome warmth like no other culture I know. But then again, their idea of “warmth” is to be above 60F (or 17C), and most have never known a Texas summer. As we say, a Swedish summer is a Texas winter, for sure. Well, Vancouver Island also seems to have a similar climate to Sweden as well, as it has barely gone over 20C or 75F here and it is almost July! After being in Texas in May, I welcome this cool respite.

Anyhow, I found a wonderful little European imports store called McLean‘s in the middle of Nanaimo (the town where we’ll be for the next 2.5 months). Owned by a Scotsman, it mostly carries British/Scottish goods for the homesick Brit, but carries some Scandinavian stuff like Danish cheese, Kalles Kaviar and lumpfish caviar. But at close to $9 a tube for Kalles, the stuff is considered “gourmet” by Canadian standards, which is laughable since it’s like the most country-bumpkin thing to eat when hiking in the Swedish forest or fishing a long while on a boat.

I also discovered a nice little bakery called Columbia Bakery in Nanaimo which is primarily German. It did have a few Scandinavian products like Kalles Kaviar, Finnish mustard and Gilles cookies. I am happy to report that the Kalles was a more modest $6.50 a tube. Yay!

I did manage to find both black and red lumpfish caviar at Thrifty Foods and lingonberry jam in Save On Foods, which are local grocery stores here, so there must be some Swedes somewhere (hallo, är ni där någonstans?). I think they would really feel at home here on “the Island”, as the locals put it. It’s a great combination of nature and small town life, with big box shopping available and very nearby. It is our chance to try the suburb life.

Coming from the city, I thought I would have cabin fever and would beg to at least get to Vancouver, but I’m pleasantly surprised how much I like the coastal, town lifestyle. We were particularly impressed with Victoria, a picturesque, “European” style seaside town that has all the lovely architecture of an old city, the walkable conveniences we crave, and most importantly, the sight of the ocean nearby. Jan and I so miss living by the sea, which we feel Toronto sorely lacks (and no, Lake Ontario doesn’t pass as an “ocean” to us). We haven’t even ventured into Vancouver yet, but we are eager to see more. We’re even considering calling this place our home – but we’ll see. I am still getting used to the weather, which one local playfully described it as “either it’s going to rain or it is raining”, which doesn’t exactly cheer me up. Unfortunately, my moods correspond a bit too closely to the weather, so I’m not sure I can be gray every day :-). But hopefully, Victoria, we’re told, doesn’t get nearly as much rain as Vancouver or Nanaimo. Stay tuned for more reviews of the Island and more! I will be on the look out for Swedes and Swedish goods while here. Drop me a line if you live nearby!!!
phantom press malaspina

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Living & Traveling, Swedish Food


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

3 Comments on “Lost in Vancouver Island!”

  1. L. Strain
    July 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Welcome to Vancouver Island! When you get a chance to explore the Island some more, you will find a little community called Coombs about 10 km west of Parksville on the Alberni Highway. A very popular stop is the Coombs Country Market, owned by a Norwegian family. In the market you will find foodstuffs from all over Europe. The Island is over 400 miles long, and there is magic around every corner. Enjoy!

    • July 10, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      Thank you so much for this info! We are in Nanaimo, so this is not too far. We are truly enjoying the magic of this island. Seems like a great place to live. I will check this place out and speak a little Norwegian too!

  2. Carolyn
    August 1, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    Make sure to head over to one (or a few) of the Gulf Islands (British Columbia’s archipelago). I would highly recommend a weekend trip to Salt Spring Island. It’s a large island (full-time population of 10,000 or so) which swells to 30,000 in the summer. It’s beautiful, and has an amazing food culture. Two wineries, lavender fields, apple festival in the fall. They are famous for SSI lamb, and for gorgeous goat cheese. Make sure to get to their large and fantastic Saturday Market (get there early!) so you can sample your way through. It’s my favourite market. Enjoy your time in our beautiful British Columbia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: