Ferris’ Grill & Garden Patio, Victoria B.C.

Back when I was living in Victoria, British Columbia for a month, Ferris’ Oyster bar (upstairs Grill & downstairs Patio) became my go-to restaurant, and over the course of a month I worked myself through much of their menu. The seafood is amazingly fresh, well prepared, and very reasonably price (and if you factor in the US to Canadian dollar conversion rate, down right cheap).

There are in fact two restaurants with overlapping but distinct menus: The fancier one is up a long flight of steep stairs and the more laid back one is located on the ground floor.

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Bouillabaisse (top left), a selection of their baked oysters, steamed clams & mussels, and seared rare albacore tuna (bottom right)
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Seafood Laksa in Malaysian coconut curry broth, Fresh B.C. Halibut in miso dashi , Bouillabaisse in fennel broth w/Saffron Ailoi, Warm Cauliflower Salad,

EVERYTHING I had was tasty, but of everything my most favorite meals were firstly the bouillabaisse served at the downstairs restaurant (the version in the upper pictures, the upstairs one has too much fat for my diet), the laksa (although the coconut milk is verboten for me), the halibut and the warm cauliflower salad.

While all the food is amazing, the more I went there (and I’d been there maybe 12 to 15 times) the more I grew to dislike their downstairs wait staff. Don’t get me wrong, they’re highly efficient, and good at their jobs, but I increasingly got the impression they don’t much like their jobs and would be thrilled if they didn’t actually have to interact with customers. Also, it seems like there’s a high turnover in the downstairs staff because I rarely saw the same folks twice, even though I always sat in the same place. And no, I don’t think it’s just me. I have watched and listened to their interactions with other patrons… same deal.

By contrast the upstairs staff was MUCH friendlier, seemed happier, and did their jobs better.

That said, I will miss both restaurants.

MooseJaw Canada

MooseJaw, is located halfway between Calgary and Winnipeg alongside the Trans-Canada Highway (population 33,000), and has enough local history and street art to be worth a two day visit (I really regretted only having a few hours). The Moose is impossible to miss from the highway, and stands adjacent to the city’s tourist information center/ the starting point for a guided tour of the city in an antique looking trolley/bus, a good way to begin your visit.

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I had initially wanted to stop in Moosejaw in part because I had remembered hearing about this town (with a name like that it’s hard to forget, although I forgot in what context) … but after having been massively let down by towns like Medicine Hat (really not much to see), I had decided to just drive through… and then I saw THIS along the highway… and of course, I had to stop in order to take pictures, and utilize the facilities

Once I was inside the building I realized that Moosejaw, even though it is a tiny little town has REALLY invested their tax dollars into doing everything they can towards making itself a worthwhile tourist destination. There is a Casino and a geothermal spa, and its the home base for a lot of fight training (both NATO and Canada’s equivalent of the Blue Angles — which quite humorously, are called the Snowbirds — a term that most people associate with something quite different) — none of which I had enough time in my schedule to enjoy. In fact I had totally underestimated how long it would take me to drive cross country and I had theater tickets already for the night of the 9th of August in Stratford, Canada, so in retrospect (once I realized JUST how much there was to do there) I quite simply could not give this town the time I think it deserved.

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From inside the information center I learned that Moosejaw HAD been an important railway town, at one point, from which agricultural goods from the surrounding area were shipped to the cities, and that there was museum in town devoted just to that topic, that was in fact part of an area wide network of museums.

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And that precisely because of the existence of that train line from Canada to Chicago, MooseJaw had become embroiled in, and received a massive economic boost from, the prohibition era in the U.S.A.

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I knew already from my previous reading on the topic (I had in fact only JUST finished a really good book on the topic a few months previous) that while the town “makes plenty of hay” from Capone having been in their town, there’s actually no hard historic evidence to support the claim.

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According to ‘what a local told me’, Capone had stayed here

While walking around the tourist information area, the two things that really sparked my interest (in terms of what to do during the few hours I could invest in the place), was the local tour bus and the tunnels that apparently run below the city. Apparently, if I had timed my stay for a weekend, at night the tour bus, which gives only a general tour of the city during the day, on weekend nights will do Ghost and murder tours of the city.

However, there was a ‘treat’ offered to the regular daytime tourists that unfortunately my diet would not allow me to partake of… a local pizza parlor that was a bit off the beaten path was offering free slices to anyone who took the tour (as a way to draw business).

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The bus took us all around town, and in particular made a point of showing us all the local street art, of which it was very proud

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Although, I will admit now… Pokémon-Go had come out a few months before, and while waiting for the bus I realized that this town had all sorts of RARE Pokémon I had not seen before, so I got a bit obsessive during the ride, putting more attention towards trying to catching the Pokémon than on listening to the tour guide (me bad — but I will note I’ve NOT seen any of these guys, well except the purple one, since this town).

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After the tour was over, I drove over to where the tunnels were, only to discover that while the tours of them leave every hour, the fact that I had arrived during a local holiday period meant that they were overwhelmed with tourists, and the wait to get into one of those tours was a good three hours, meaning I didn’t have enough time to be able to do one; and there are two, one about prohibition, one devoted to the Chinese population of town who apparently lived mostly underground (??) … as such I strongly suggest booking these tours in advance.

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