The author's painting captures a riot of colour from spring flowers alongside Highway 19 between Port McNeill and Campbell River.

Spring blooms with colour on the Island Highway

The new freeway from Campbell River down island holds its own scenic views.

The freeway from Campbell River down island is, I’m sure we all agree, a much faster way to go than the original way, especially when you’re trying to catch a ferry. I do miss the old, scenic route with its many quaint, definitely “Vancouver Island-ish” views. Forced to give oneself some extra time to make the trip, one often turned it into a bit of an excursion with lunch stops, etc.

Thus the new highroad became somewhat of a paradox. The ride became faster and easier but the price we’ve paid, it seems, is that we’ve given up our “best in the world” Vancouver Island views along the famed eastern seashore. There is one spot on the new road, however, that turns my head for a second, third and fourth glance, especially in springtime. Often I’m glad it’s a split, four-lane thoroughfare because I’m all over the road, captivated by the panorama before me. The view is at its best when travelling down-island and makes its debut very soon after leaving the Courtenay/Cumberland turnoff. At this time the road is indeed a “High” way and soon vistas of the distant shore below begin to emerge.

Every spring the flowers along our highways make me leap for my brighter colours as the Scottish Broom turns our landscape into a blaze of  gold and yellow. As if this isn’t enough, the purple/blue lupines gather around the yellows, just so they will really come alive. Mother Nature, using her complementary palette, demands your attention, screaming out at you from the roadside until she is satisfied that she has flooded your visual senses.

I’ve painted the Lupines/Broom arrangement before, usually between Port McNeill and Port Hardy, and probably will paint this dynamite combination again. The scene from the highway shown here has beckoned for me to paint it ever since the freeway’s introduction. The springtime flowers begged to be added!

Gordon Henschel owns an art gallery in Nimpkish Heights. www.henschel.ca

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