In search of Nanaimo bars

By Observer Upload September 28, 2012 08:35 am


his time the cruise was free. The Nanaimo bars, less so.

Being Scotch-American, with a major dose of Danish thrown in for efficiency, I like those numbers. I also liked being in Nelson, B.C. — motto: in the middle of nothing and everything — with my Sweetie celebrating our first anniversary.

Yes, Wonder Woman, aka my wife, and I got passports to go to Canada for our honeymoon after the 9-10-11 wedding. They cost $100 apiece. To get our money’s worth, we have take a trip to Canada every year on our anniversary. 


On the honeymoon trip, we inadvertently turned into to a long, long, long lineup of cars waiting to get on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver, to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. That “cruise” ended up costing us $150 Canadian, which will buy a Ford Mustang, a tank of gas, a pony ride and a bale of hay in the United States. Just kidding. The dollar trades out almost straight across with the Loonie.

Our Vancouver Island cruise became a mission to find a Nanaimo bar in a Nanaimo bar. We succeeded. Nanaimo bars are B.C.’s best-known confection. They have a crumb base, two layers of chocolate between which is a generous layer of light custard buttercream.

Nanaimo bars were invented almost four decades ago by a Nanaimo housewife who entered her recipe in a magazine contest. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Cruising B.C.

Our first “cruise” was expensive. But it started a tradition. And the ferries in interior B.C. are free.

I chose Nelson this year because years ago, fresh out of college, I lived in North Idaho and went skiing at Whitewater Ski Area. The ski area gets about 40 feet of snow each winter and the road goes through tunnels put in to protect them from avalanches.

It’s wild country. There are bears in town. And all sorts of people, from wildlife photographers to business hippies.

It’s also hockey country. We went to the last preseason game of the team that plays in town. The seven-month season started well before summer ended and while ice was still something in drinks and not in the pond.

On the last full day we were in Nelson, we decided to tackle Pulpit Rock, across the arm of Kootenay Lake from town. It’s 1,100 feet in elevation gain in one mile, or as the Canadians say, 40,000 hectares celcius.

From the top you could almost see all the way to the United States.