is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the west
coast of Canada, and offers a taste of "how life used to be".
A strong British influence has remained since the construction
of Fort Victoria in 1843 by the Hudson's Bay Company, a dominant
fur-trading company at the time, and Victoria remains friendly
and clean, with restored historic buildings and miles of green
lawns and parks.
Fort Victoria was established on a site now known as Bastion Square. The
buildings that exist today are restored, late 19th century warehouses,
saloons and dining establishments which now house restaurants, shops and
relax in true British style with afternoon tea, offered in dozens
of tearooms throughout the city. One of the best known locations
is the Tea Lobby in The Fairmont Empress Hotel. Built in 1908
on Victoria's Inner Harbour, The Fairmont Empress has been restored
to her original majesty and is one of western Canada's most
splendid 19th century buildings are open to the public, including
the 39-room Craigdarroch Castle, built in 1887 by Robert Dunsmuir,
a BC coal baron.
When touring the lavish residence with its seven chimneys, marble-tiled
floors, pink granite columns and brilliant stained glass windows, make sure
you wear your walking shoes... the tour could include the 87-step staircase
to the fifth floor tower!
In fact, comfortable walking shoes are a "must"
in Victoria. Whether you want to shop or sightsee, a stroll
around Victoria is the way to go.
The Maritime Museum, originally the Provincial Court House, is a highlight
of Bastion Square and depicts the story of BC's maritime history from early
explorers to the present.
Royal British Columbia Museum chronicles the province's social
and natural history. In Thunderbird Park, beside the museum,
ancient Native totem poles stand tall. You can also watch traditional
poles being carved in the carving house. The grounds around
the museum are planted with vegetation native to all regions
The only Shinto shrine in North America is on display at the Art Gallery of
Greater Victoria, along with a large Asian art collection. One of Canada's
finest art museums, the gallery also contains European, African, American,
Central American, Peruvian, Canadian, Inuit and ancient Egyptian and Greek
the weather is nice, as it invariably is in Victoria, residents
and visitors alike amble through gardens and parks and along
The best route to see some of Victoria's opulent homes and gardens is the
Scenic Marine Drive, beginning downtown at Mile Zero of the Trans Canada
Highway. Following Victoria's waterfront you'll notice a distinct
difference from other waterfront cities; you can see for miles, across the
Strait of Juan de Fuca to the snowcapped peaks of the Olympic Mountains in
of the most famous gardens in the world, the Butchart Gardens,
is located just 30 minutes from Victoria's city centre. Whether
it is traditional afternoon tea in front of a warm fire, a champagne
reception in the Italian Gardens, or an elegant sit-down dinner
in the original residence of the Butchart family, the warm hospitality
and unique surroundings will create an event to remember.
As in any major city, Victoria offers fine shopping and dining adventures.
Market Square, two blocks north of Bastion Square, offers interesting
places to shop, browse and eat. The restored buildings date back to the
beginning of Victoria. This area of Olde Towne was once filled with the
hustle and bustle of the gold rush, shipping and whaling trades.
Tan Alley, the narrowest street in North America, leads into
Canada's oldest Chinatown, established in 1858 when Chinese
immigrants were used for railroad labour. Here you'll discover
exotic merchandise and restaurants. The Gate of Harmonious Interest,
one of Chinatown's main features, is guarded by hand-carved
stone lions from Szuchou, China.
Victoria's British influence is noticeable in the shops along Government
Street, the first few blocks of the downtown shopping area. Here shoppers
browse among linens, bone china, crystal, woolens, confections and imported
teas and coffees. Whether you collect stamps, coins, rare books, antique
silver, furniture or art, you can find a new addition for your collection
on Fort Street; better known as Antique Row.
Clean, green and safe, Victoria is museums and art galleries, parks and
gardens, nightclubs and afternoon tea, recreation and relaxation.