Stories behind the door challenge

The challenge, should you choose to accept, is to write one of the stories holding its secrets behind this door (300 words maximum).

I’ll post your stories here and send you copies of my newest books — When the Sun was Mine and Whispers Under the Baobab (neither of which were found behind this door) — as a token of appreciation for your writing .

Please send your entries to


The surprise of Dragon Alley

Dragon Alley connects Fisgard and Herald streets. Originally, there were two passageways through buildings that Michael Hart constructed on each street in 1890. The Hart’s Fisgard Building replaced a wooden hut once owned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Hart’s Herald Building was constructed as a stable and carriage repair shop. In 1910, Quan Yuen Yen and Joe Gar Chow purchased both buildings, and in 1912 they built a three-section, two-storey lodging house between the two Hart buildings intersected by a north-south passageway that connected to the two walkways through the Hart buildings. This route through the three buildings is now known as Dragon Alley. In 2000-2001, Moore Paterson Architects of Victoria won architectural and heritage awards for their conversion of the derelict central Quan Yuen Yen building into updated live-work townhouses.

And this is what Dragon alley leads to now.

Chinese New Year Celebration in Victoria, BC

Always something interesting to see and do in Victoria. Of course we went to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year Celebration.



Chinatown in Victoria, is the oldest in Canada and, in North America, second in age only to San Francisco’s, with its beginnings in the 1858 influx of miners from California to what is now British Columbia.

Initially a collection of crude wooden huts,


Victoria’s Chinatown rapidly evolved into a dense neighborhood of businesses, theaters, schools, churches, temples and a hospital. It did gain a dark, seedy reputation however, because of opium factories, gambling dens and brothels. Chinatown grew steadily over the years until its peak in 1911, at which time it occupied an area of about six city blocks.




Victoria’s revitalized Chinatown is a popular area for tourists as well as for the artistic community. The focus is the 500-600 block of Fisgard Street, including famously narrow Fan Tan Alley. The area includes many shops, one with historic displays, the old Chinese School and a small selection of historic buildings and Chinese businesses. The district was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.


The Gate of Harmonious Interest, which was built in Suzhou, one of Victoria’s sister cities.



Victoria – the Jewel of Canada




We’re here! Living in the city again and what a city it is. Victoria, British Columbia—buzzing with tourists and citizens. Cruise ships, water taxis, and float planes dot the harbor. History and modernity comingle in the downtown core.

An online search will tell you that: Victoria, capital of British Columbia, is known as “The Garden City” due to the abundance of gardens and city parks, Victoria also has an impressive selection of historic sites and heritage architecture. Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city’s Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s. 

Museums in Victoria cover everything from Aboriginal culture to science and nature. This is also the home of the Royal BC Museum and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

See floral displays year-round or wander through a castle. Take a Victoria whale-watching tour to enjoy the natural surroundings and to look for Orcas, sea lions and more. 

What the descriptions can’t give you is the sense of excitement, the bustle of activity, the air of adventure … everything from the Butchart Gardens to zip lines, from the IMAX to miles of bike trails, from Fishermans’ Wharf to the Bug Zoo.

Go whale watching, take a horse drawn carriage ride, dine in one of the many fine restaurants and bistros, high tea at the Empress Hotel, coffee at Murchies …. Festivals and concerts abound—something for everyone.

Yes, we love it here already.


Ginseng brandy and the guest


“Would you like a shot of brandy?” he asked his guest after dinner.

“Sure. Thanks.”

Drinks poured, settled in the living room, the guest said, “Hm, good stuff. Where did you get it?”

“It was a gift from an old Chinese guy I know.”

The guest straightened. “In Chinatown.”

“Yeah, sure, why?”

“Can I see the bottle?”

After a close inspection, he said, “We’ve been trying to track down these guys for ages.”

Uh, oh. The guest was a liquor inspector. This might not be so good. “Um, why?” he asked.

“This stuff is illegal, smuggled in with the food they import and we’ve never been able to catch them.”

Now he was in a quandary. Would his guest ask for the name of his friend? What would he answer if it came to that? He held his breath.

The guest put the bottle down, took another sip of the brandy and after a long pause, said, “Damn fine stuff.”