Constructed in 1898 of local stone and wood, the stately buildings are neo-Gothic in style. A gilded statue of Captain George Vancouver, for whom Vancouver Island was named, sits atop the central dome. Free half-hour tours are offered several times a day year-round. Located at 501 Belleville Street.
Ranked among the most beautiful in the world, these gardens are truly breathtaking. During July and August, fireworks displays are held every Saturday evening. You will need to take a taxi or a shore excursion to get there.
This 1860s house was the childhood home of Emily Carr, one of Canada's most beloved and most famous artists. Guided by the artist's autobiography, the house was partially restored to reflect its 1890s appearance. A variety of rotating exhibits and period rooms, a gift shop and many reproductions of Carr's works can be seen in the house. Interpreters in costume are available to assist you with your tour. Emily Carr House is located at 207 Government Street in Victoria, within walking distance of the Inner Harbor and Beacon Hill Park.
Ivy covered and built in 1908, the Empress Hotel is the centerpiece of Victoria. Pretend that you are in England and indulge yourself in the local ritual of high tea complete with tea and pastries, including scones with jam. Every afternoon high tea is served in the elegant lobby. Reservations are required and recommended attire is smart casual wear.
No matter what your age, you will be fascinated by Miniature World. Featuring animated scenes telling stories of fact, fiction and fantasy, Miniature World is the greatest little show on earth! There are over 85 attractions including the world's smallest operating sawmill, one of the longest model railways and two of the largest doll houses.
Take a couple of hours and spend your time perusing the many exhibits in the museum, including 12,000 years of natural and human history. Located at 675 Belleville Street.
The main shopping area in Victoria is along Government Street north of the Empress Hotel. There are many stores specializing in English imports but Canadian-made goods are usually a better buy.
Hang a right off Government Street onto Fort Street and walk five blocks. Between Blanshard and Cooks Streets, you will find dozens of antique shops selling china, furniture, artwork, jewelry, books and collectibles.
Northwest Coast Native jewelry and hand knit Cowichan sweaters are this stores main wares. Located at 1328 Government Street.
Original West Coast Native artwork is available here for browsing or buying. Located at 1008 Government Street.
Be sure to browse through this store with its exquisite imported linens and lace. Located at 1019 Government Street.
Victoria is known as the "Cycling Capital of Canada." A beautiful climate, extensive trail network and gorgeous scenery are conducive to year-round on- and off-road biking. Bike shops, clubs and touring companies offer expertise, equipment and guided rides to both residents and visitors. Visitors can explore the entire city or the entire Island on a bicycle.
Victoria lures enthusiast hikers from all over the world. There is easy access to miles of scenic hiking trails. Challenge your physical fitness and reward your spirit with a short, hourly excursion or a multi-day trek.
Learn a bit about local history and absorb the atmosphere of days gone by while taking a leisurely horse-drawn tour through Victoria. Whether you choose to take a romantic ride with your sweetie through some of Victoria's picturesque neighborhoods or hop on a group tour through downtown, you will be lulled by the clip-clopping sound of the horses' hooves and transported back to a time when this was a common mode of transport for all of Victoria's residents. Several tour companies operate from the Inner Harbor area and can escort you on your choice of tours.
Stroll the Inner Harbor and discover the city's colorful history. You will pass by Heritage buildings along cobblestone streets with flower baskets hanging from lampposts. Follow an English "Bobby" on a guided walking tour and uncover Victoria's Olde Towne. Discover Victoria's past on a ghost walk or a cemetery tour.
Although the best time to see migrating gray whales is during March and April, the resident Orca (killer) whales are best viewed from May through November when they are at their feeding grounds and the weather is more conducive to sightings. Other marine life you are very likely to see are otters, seals, sea lions and dolphins. You can also witness the phenomenon of salmon spawning as schools of them return from the sea to lay their eggs in their ancestral spawning grounds before dying.
This signals a feeding frenzy for black bears, bald eagles and any other wildlife that depend on salmon. Along Vancouver Island's back roads and highways, land mammals like black bears, cougars, deer and elk can often be seen, especially in the pristine wilderness of the northern and Pacific Rim regions of Vancouver Island.
Captain James Cook became the first white man to set foot on what is now British Columbia. In the spring of 1778 he landed on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at Nootka Sound, and discovered that it was already inhabited by First Nations people. These people could be divided into three groups who spoke different dialects of the North Straits Salish or Lekwungaynung language. These three dialect groups eventually became known as the Songhees, the Saanich and the Sooke.
Permanent occupation of the island by European settlers resulted from the fur trade companies' continual movement towards the Pacific coast. In 1842, James Douglas of the British Hudson's Bay Company examined Southern Vancouver Island in detail looking for the best site for a new trading post. Douglas anchored off Clover Point on March 13, 1843 and selected Camosack, now Victoria, as the site for a Hudson's Bay Company post. It was eventually named Fort Victoria, after the Queen of England.
Victoria quickly grew into a commercial and naval port, the seat of colonial and provincial governments and a modern city with many international ties.
A royal grant dated January 13, 1849, enabled the Hudson's Bay Company to receive title to the whole of Vancouver Island. The grant had one condition and that was that colonization should be undertaken. The townsite that had developed around Fort Victoria adopted the name Victoria in 1852. It was incorporated as a city on August 2, 1862 and Mr. Thomas Harris was elected, by acclamation, as Victoria's first Mayor. He presided over the first City council meeting on August 25 of that same year.
Victoria and Vancouver Island take pride in their Native and British heritage and culture. When the British settlers arrived they began building a city of refined architecture and cultural sophistication. More than a century later, the residents of Victoria are still dedicated to maintaining the city's heritage and quality of life.
Visit the official Web site of Tourism Victoria, where you will find helpful information on local events, attractions and transportation.
Explore the official Web site of the City of Victoria. Find more information for visitors, including maps, events and accommodations.