"British Columbia - elegant Victoria" Top 5 Page for this destination Canada Things to Do Tip by Bwana_Brown

Canada Things to Do: 485 reviews and 709 photos

  In front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel
by Bwana_Brown
  • In front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel - Canada
      In front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel
    by Bwana_Brown
  • The 'Sunken Garden' part of Butchart Gardens - Canada
      The 'Sunken Garden' part of Butchart Gardens
    by Bwana_Brown

In July, 1999 we spent a few days in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and located off-shore on Vancouver Island, the 9th largest island in the world and nipping closely on the heals of Great Britain! Since we were staying with my brother and his wife, we did not actually get to stay in Victoria's most famous building - the Fairmont Empress Hotel, but we did spend an afternoon enjoying its grounds.

Completed in 1908, the 'Empress' was another in the chain of impressive hotels spread across the country by the Canadian Pacific Steamship company, sister to the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and the Banff Springs Hotel in the Rockies outside Calgary. Built in the Edwardian design, this château-style hotel served as a terminus for Canadian Pacific's worldwide steamship liners. Over the many decades since, it became the place to stay for celebrities from all walks of life as Victoria became renowned for its old-style British way of life.

We strolled through, admiring its classic decor and observing the patrons enjoying its tradition of serving afternoon tea (expensive, but so popular that it requires reservations!) before taking a walk around the immaculately groomed grounds. However, the highlight of the day was enjoying the activities along the harbourfront located below the hotel entrance (lower right here). It was a beautiful warm summer day with artists displaying their crafts and some very good bands playing for the crowds - just a totally relaxing experience.

Located just outside the city in the suburb of Brentwood Bay is the botanical gem of Butchart Gardens (2nd photo), tracing its roots back to 1904. We really enjoyed an afternoon stroll around this amazing display of flowers, trees and views set in and around an abandoned limestone rock quarry.

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  • Updated May 18, 2007
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