Tag Archives: British Columbia

[Editorial] Sounding off on the Nerdy Convention Scene in Victoria, BC

5 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

I have attended many pop culture style conventions in the past 25 or so years. Some took place in my home town of Victoria, British Columbia but more off island. I am sad not many local shows have a footprint of lasting more than five years. Attempts have been made to centralize all aspects of geekdom, but to pull it off needs a proper committee of dedicated folks. I’m aware most of the businesses along Nerd Row (on Johnson Street and Broad) are in communication with one another, but this community was not in place till the early part of this century.

In terms of history, a major comic book type event (which was a one-off) took place at the Empress Hotel in the late 80’s which had a who’s who of talent (from New York even), which Big Brothers and Big Sisters organized — my introduction to the scene — but since then, everything else which followed never compared. Van Isle Con is a step in the right direction, and although a short commute is required to get there, I’m wondering what’s next? Are there individuals willing to make something happen within the capital city?

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Wind up Geek’s Cool Merchandise: Handmade Harry Potter Mugs

25 Jun

By James Robert Shaw
(The Wind up Geek)

In all my travels and in all the conventions I visit (Van Isle Comic Con, Tsukino-Con, and Fan Expo Vancouver), I have been amazed at some of the cool merchandise that can be bought at the vendor tables. I don’t just speak about the mass-produced items with names like Funko, Bandai, and Hasbro, but of the finely crafted local items as well.

At the 2017 Tsukino-Con, I spent much of my money on said items and a roll full of prints from local and more internationally known artists. I even bought a My Neighbour Totoro phone charm (which I will highlight at another time). For now, I will bring to your attention merchandise I discover and to share them with you, our readers. Perhaps along the way I will help you find something new.

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Ed’s Comic Book Diary – Impressions on Van Isle Con

13 Jun

17972139_290562181379367_7532591749511814314_oBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Out of the many conventions I have attended over the years, some leave me wanting for more and others make me wish it could go on forever. With small events, the choices of what to do can leave me realizing I can take on most of the show in under a few hours and enjoy the sites from the city/town that’s hosting.  Van Isle Con successfully compressed down what felt like a weekend event to one day and left me wishing for more.

Well, that’s if you are not like certain buddies of mine who will remain nameless. One had a long work day the night before, and the other was here to work (sort of) but he does not understand these geek shows as well as I do. Although I did not get much sleep, as I’m a night owl by nature, I did not crash n’ burn or find myself mentally exhausted when I took a long bus ride to and fro to get to this show.

I did need time to write (and edit) to describe all that I have experienced:

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“Victoria’s Most Haunted” Gets A New Book by Ian Gibbs!

7 May

51nsewsef1l-_sx322_bo1204203200_By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Presentation at Bolen Books 
1644 Hillside Ave #111
on May 9, 7pm

Many long-time residents of Victoria, British Columbia will not dispute the fact that this garden city is haunted. More ghosts are said to spook specific streets here, and most of the downtown core and neighbouring districts are covered in Ian Gibb’s debut book, “Victoria’s Most Haunted.”

From bars to homes to restaurants and schools, this variety of sites is welcome. A few places are missed — some of which I had the fortune to check out during my time with PARAVI, a local paranormal investigative society (understandably not mentioned in the book because it’s no longer in operation) — but to get every story crammed in means obtaining permission not only from the group but also from the current business operators to talk about them.

I have found The Ghost Story Guy‘s collection (his handle in this paranormal pop culture business) to be a concise look at places both familiar and not. Gibbs has the Sixth Sense. While he does not use it to communicate with the spirit world, he can feel the energies out and describe what the mojo is like. I am thrilled his book covers a few new places previous publications have not. At least to my knowledge, not many new stories made it to print in the last 12 or so years. I heard of a few through the news, namely a photo of a supposed face materializing down a flight of stairs at Hatley Castle, but I did not spot anything when the image was published.

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Gibbs recounts recent activities and his brushes with the occult world with a narrative style that’s easy to visualize, and his personal account of his time working at Christ Church Cathedral School is this book’s highlight.

I smiled when I read his entry about the Young Building (Camosun College) because he included my own experiences there. This book is great by including historical notes in some chapters. This school’s most iconic building was built in 1913 and it was used as a normal school in the early years before being turned to a hospital. Of course, its purpose was changed in later years. Although Gibbs did not include the just-as-haunted Richmond House at the Lansdowne campus, because the ability to track down and talk to witnesses is not always easy, the accounts from staff to student shows he wants different perspectives. I related to him what I heard when I did my research for my college paper’s Halloween issue and had at least four experiences during my education here; half of which I’d say could easily be logically explained away. For those places that do not want to be listed, I’m sure the missing entries, like any mention of Doris Gravlin at the Victoria Golf Course, are considered overdone in comparison to Craigdarroch Castle, where the museum operators prefer to acknowledge the building is not haunted despite what witnesses say.

I became interested in the paranormal back in my early teens, but when cliques were the mainstays and the subject was not often openly talked about, I did not want to heavily advertise my interest. For this hobby, all the groups (even back then) exist to achieve the same goals and to say one gang is better than another always bugged me. Each club can use different methodologies, but when it decides to put on exhibitions, like “public ghost hunts,” I often wonder if the organization is simply offering circus-style entertainment for the curious or hoping proof of an afterlife will manifest when more witnesses are present to validate it? For the latter, a collective imagination wanting manifestation to happen can sway the results. Personal experiences make for better tales and Gibbs is wise to say, “The stories are meant to entertain, and neither the publisher nor the author claim that these stories represent fact. Additionally, it is not the author’s intention to influence anyone’s beliefs; instead, the author’s wish is that these stories will inspire, thrill, delight, and comfort.”

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Short of going to Britain, which has centuries of history and scarier tales of terror to go by, this corner of the Pacific Northwest has plenty for purveyors of this paranormal subculture to enjoy. True to the genre (i.e. in what you see on a few televised programs), Gibbs’ book is heavy on places readers can visit and yet include a few inaccessible places. The variety of tales he tells is excellent!

As for what is next from this author, I can see him embarking on a haunted road trip to examine all of Vancouver Island. Who knows, perhaps a look at Mount Tzouhalem near Duncan and Beban House in Nanaimo are next? Up in Northern Vancouver Island, the natural spring Devil’s Bath (located in Alice Lake Park) suggests some kind of dark history. To discover that past requires talking to locals to distinguish what is fact from the folklore. The Forbidden Plateau within Strathcona Park has a past I’m very interested in! It’s supposed to be haunted by first nations people and these are the type of stories best heard by the campfire. In the meantime, I’ll happily read “Victoria’s Most Haunted” by the shimmering light of the fireplace one more time.