"A Trip Home is ALWAYS GREAT !!" Top 5 Page for this destination Victoria by Greggor58

Victoria Travel Guide: 1,619 reviews and 3,348 photos

Nature and Small Town Feel...

Ive just returned from a short visit to a city that I LOVE to visit and hang out in....a city that is surrounded by wilderness...water..color...giant trees and wildlife... and old and dear friends...many times Ive visited since I last lived here in the mid nineties...close to the water...an easy drive to find solitude and quiet...I contemplate how it would be living here again...

Victoria is many things to different people... but to me it will always be a place where I feel totally connected with a lifestyle that is simple and enjoyable....its a somewhat isolated city given that you can only reach this place by water or air...situated on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island...its really cut off physically from the rest of British Columbia and North America...and so likely it's that challenge to get here that lends itself to some uniqueness I think..

Victoria is primarily known as the home of the Legislature of the Province of British Columbia.. and was named as the Capitol of the new Province of British Columbia in May of 1868.

The first peoples to inhabit this area of the World as in the rest of the Americas are First Nations Peoples...thought to have been living on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca for thousands of years..

Victoria is still today the home of the Lekwungen People who are also known as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations..Lekwungen is the original language of these people.They're culture and history are still very much a part of what Victoria is all about for me and many others also..

The history of Victoria is more complex than what I will tell you about here although suffice it to say that numerous historical treaties and LARGE bureaucracies certainly played they're roles in the growth of modern day Victoria...

European contact with the First Nations on Vancouver Island began in 1778 when Captain Cook set foot on Nootka Island.Both the British and the Spanish became deeply involved in exploration of Vancouver Island over the coming decades.Its not uncommon to see a town or a street named after a Spaniard explorer...the town of Tofino for example..Quadra Street in Victoria...Quadra Island off the coast of Vancouver Island...they are both named after Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra who was a Spanish naval officer that participated in exploration of the Pacific Northwest.Cordova Bay and Cordova Bay Road take they're name's from Puerto de Cordova...the original name for the harbour in Esquimalt.Gonzales Avenue,Gonzales Hill and Gonzales Observatory also take their titles from a Spanish explorer.

The names of British explorers and early residents,doctors and bureaucrats are certainly plentiful also on park names,street names and numerous bays and coves along the shoreline of Victoria.Douglas Street,Broughton Street,Cook Street,etc.etc..

Leave it to Beaver....

In March of 1843 the Hudson’s Bay Company’s James Douglas, anchored his ship the BEAVER off of present day Clover Point and established a trading post and fort that were to become the simple beginnings of the City of Victoria...hence like most of the early days of European settlement in North America,development was derived out of the economic desire of the Europeans...trading in animal pelts was the initial reason for Europeans to come here and stay....

Vancouver Island became a "colony" of the British Empire from about 1843 until about 1866....and virtually every British colonist that arrived to "Fort Victoria" was an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company...

Until the late 1850's the European population of Victoria had numbered about 450 people...GOLD was discovered on the mainland of British Columbia in about 1858 and the whole scene changed forever...miners and adventurers predominantly from the gold fields of California and Australia flocked to Victoria...which was then the only sea port and outfitting center for the gold fields of the Cariboo...the region of BC where the Gold rush was on...

Just briefly...one might think of Vancouver as THE port of entry into British Columbia and in fact nowadays it is but until the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Burrard Inlet in Vancouver in 1886, Victoria was in fact the port of entry into the territory...

The "Commodore" a side-wheel American steamer arrived at Victoria harbor on April 25, 1858.Within a few weeks it is estimated that over 20,000 new arrivals had grown the population of the sleepy small community.

Asian immigration to BC has for a long time been a part of the history of Victoria..The first Chinese arrived in Victoria in June 1858. Most obtained mining licenses and headed to the Fraser River and Carriboo goldfields, although a few merchants, artisans and craftsmen remained in Victoria.

By 1862, when Victoria was incorporated as a city, it had about 300 Chinese immigrants, making up six per cent of the population...Two decades later, the 1881 national census counted 693 Chinese in Victoria, making it the largest Chinese settlement in Canada.
Victoria's "Chinatown" is regarded as the oldest in Canada....and second oldest in North America....San Francisco being the oldest.

Victoria Today...

Is a smaller city...about 400,000 people....its often referred to as the "City of Gardens"...rightly so as the climate here is unlike anywhere else in Canada...considered a sub-Mediterranean zone...unlike other more prominent cities in British Columbia Victoria receives an average of 2,183 hours of sunshine yearly, and an eight month frost free season.Average annual rainfall is in fact 26.2 inches (compared to over 50 inches in New York). The average monthly rainfall in winter is 5 cm (2 inches) and in the summer is less than 2.5 cm (1 inch).Winters are usually mild and rarely include snow,however like everywhere else the weather patterns are changing and heavy snowfall years are becoming more and more frequent..
Over the last ten years, the local climate seems to have shifted to longer periods of drought during the spring/summer months and more intense periods of precipitation during the winter months (although annual rainfall totals haven't seemed to change much).

Many people here take pride in they're properties and its really common to see some truly amazing gardens here... You will see certain plants and trees growing here that you would definitely NOT see anywhere else in Canada...Palm trees and giant Fir and Cedar trees are quite common..One species of tree...the Arbutus Tree is found here and in fact is not common in too many other places in British Columbia [Arbutus is the only native broad leaf evergreen tree in Canada and is only found in a narrow band along the south coast of B.C. ]..There exists here for the most part a community "value" dedicated to the preservation of the old trees whenever possible.

The infamous Butchart Gardens are a huge attraction and are located about a thirty minute drive from the downtown core...an easy drive North on the Pat Bay Highway or an easy bus ride away...and in case you're not sure...The Butchart Gardens are a fifty five acre collection of wonderfully maintained gardens that were established in about 1904.

I enjoyed living here....close to Dallas Road in a neighborhood called "James Bay".I would walk a few times a week along the shores of Juan de Fuca Strait...sometimes along the breakwater at Ogden Point...sometimes around the Inner Harbor when Tourist Season was wrapping up and the downtown core was restored to calm...

It can be a bit crazy during the peak of Tourist Season...but there's so many little hideouts and nooks and cranny's by the ocean that can easily be found to soak up some quiet time..I still enjoy being here whenever I can....

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Amazingly beautiful scenery....
  • Cons:Pretty touristy in certain places...
  • Last visit to Victoria: Sep 2009
  • Intro Updated Sep 26, 2011
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Reviews (29)

Comments (12)

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Oct 10, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    Looks lovely, Greg, apart from Officer friendly. Whale watching and earthquakes - sounds like my country, but you got much better photos of the whales than I ever did.

  • cal6060's Profile Photo
    Sep 11, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    Victoria Island is always my favorite in Canada. You have a great tips on this.. I really wish I could go back there again in the near future, but it is far..

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    The water and dock area look appealing, and there you can get those fresh catches to eat besides. A whale watch must have been an adventure. Good presentation and pictures.

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Love the Home of the Salmon Kings! Nice tips!

  • mariaschmidt's Profile Photo
    May 28, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    From your description Sidney seems very nice I think to look for accommodation in Sidney instead of Victoria since we arrive at Shwarz bay - Is this a good idea ?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 26, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    Would love to do the Whale tour there, looks and sounds better than the one I did here. Needed your transportation tips too! would have been very helpful!

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    I never was on that side of Canada, and your page gives me travel ideas, Greggor; not only the “primal art” of the Eskimos and other natives, but also the the oceanic atmosphere, and of course all the bars/bistrots. Very interesting and informative page.

  • Jefie's Profile Photo
    Oct 5, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    When Sylvain was working out West, he once spent an evening at the Legion in Sidney - apparently the "meat draw" is a lot of fun!

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2009 at 2:09 PM

    Great introduction page Greg - I will be back for more - but why are the Butchart Gardens "infamous"? What went on/goes on there? I'm intriqued.

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Looks like you had a great time in Victoria. I enjoyed your tips especially looking at all your photos & recognising places we visited.

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