What Wasp is That?

I spent some time this week in my mother-in-law’s garden photographing wasps, bees and other insects but am finding it challenging to identify them. These wasps were unconcerned about me being close to them so I was able to get some good photographs of these fascinating insects.

I’m working on identifying conclusively the wasps/insects pictured below. The photographs were taken near the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Any assistance on the identification of the following would be greatly appreciated!

Update: Thanks to Rob Cannings from the Royal BC Museum for help identifying these wasps. For those interested in identifying species in your own backyard, the University of Alberta has a good key to northeastern species here.