Victoria, BC, is one of the world’s best-kept secrets… a magical seaside city with stately, oceanfront homes… quiet streets… and more upscale restaurants per capita than any city outside of San Francisco. You cross the shimmering waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca by hydrofoil (Victoria lies approximately 60 miles from both Vancouver and Seattle) and arrive in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, British Columbia, the capital of the province and home to one of the best universities in Canada.
According to Rudyard Kipling, “To realize Victoria you must take all that the eye admires in Bournemouth… the Isle of Wight and Happy Valley of Hong Kong, the Doon, Sorrento and Camps Bay, and add reminiscences on the Thousand Islands, and arrange the whole around the Bay of Naples, with some Himalayas for the background.” The city itself is small, just 78,000 residents… but if you include such neighbouring municipalities Oak Bay, Saanich, and Metchosin, Greater Victoria is a nice-sized city of 330,000 people.
Tourists rarely explore beyond a few downtown blocks, but the most stunning neighbourhoods of Victoria lie outside the Downtown along the sheltered bays and astonishing ocean bluffs of Oak Bay and the Saanich Peninsula. To cross the “Blue Bridge,” and stroll along the seaside pedestrian walkway of Victoria West is to discover a new kind of upscale urban living: Small, low-rise condominiums with the most astonishing views imaginable. And then there are the amazing neighborhoods of Esquimalt, Colwood and Metchosin. No, if you’re looking for a different way of life – a place that combines an old-fashioned, relaxed lifestyle with an upscale urban outlook – then Victoria is the place for you, to visit or to live.
And now, for the first time, you can stay in touch with Victoria with Victoriabcmagazine.com – the only web magazine dedicated solely to North America’s most beautiful, most livable city. If you’ve visited Victoria and want to stay in touch, or are considering making a move there, you need Victoriabcmagazine.com — chock full of fascinating articles, gorgeous colour photography and in-depth reviews of the newest restaurants, hotels, nightlife and more. It’s the perfect publication for residents, visitors, students, retirees – anyone who wants to know more about Victoria.
The magazine (and free ezine) covers arts and entertainment, lifestyle, culture, sports, home furnishing, fashion, dining and nightlife and business. Recent and upcoming articles include a special section on “The New Downtown”, an article on “Condo Mania,” a brief survey of the historic buildings of downtown with photos from the BC Archives, a profile of Starfish Glassworks, a special section on “Victoria Style,” a lengthy entertainment section, reviews of both The Queen Mother Waterside Cafè and The Mark at the Grand Pacific Hotel, and more. Best of all, it’s FREE.
To continue receiving updates about the latest events and happenings in Victoria, BC, simply click on the subscribe button at the upper right.
Victoria BC is the capital city of British Columbia. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is a major tourism destination seeing more than 3.65 million visitors a year who inject more than one billion dollars into the local economy. Victoria is a cruise ship port where cruise liners stop at Ogden Point terminal. The city also receives economic benefits from its close proximity to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, the Canadian military’s main Pacific naval base. Downtown Victoria also serves as Greater Victoria’s regional downtown, where many night clubs, theatres, restaurants and pubs are clustered, and where much larger regional public events occur. In particular, Canada Day fireworks displays and Symphony Splash concerts draw tens of thousands of Greater Victorians and visitors to the downtown core.
The city has hosted sports events including the 2005 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship tournament, the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and 2006 Skate Canada. Victoria co-hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup at Royal Athletic Park, and is the venue for the Bastion Square Grand Prix Criterium road cycling race. The city is also a destination for conventions, meetings, and conferences, including a 2007 North Atlantic Treaty Organization military chief of staff meeting. Every year, the Swiftsure International Yacht Race brings boaters from around the world, to participate in the boat race in the waters off of Vancouver Island. The Tall Ships Festival brings sailing ships to Victoria for the public to see and feel the sailing way of life in the past and present.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the late 1700s, the Victoria BC area was home to several communities of Coast Salish peoples, including the Songhees. The Spanish and British took up the exploration of the northwest coast of North America beginning with the voyage of Captain James Cook in 1776, although the Victoria area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca was not penetrated until 1791. Spanish sailors visited Esquimalt Harbour (within the modern Capital Regional District) in 1790 and again in 1792. Erected in 1843 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post on a site originally called Camosun (the native word was “camosack”, meaning “rush of water”) known briefly as “Fort Albert”, the settlement was later christened Fort Victoria, in honour of Queen Victoria. The Songhees established a village across the harbour from the fort. The Songhees’ village was later moved north of Esquimalt. When the crown Colony of Vancouver Island was established in 1849, a town was laid out on the site and made the capital of the colony. The Chief Factor of the fort, James Douglas was made the second governor of the Vancouver Island Colony (Richard Blanshard was first governor, Arthur Edward Kennedy was third and last governor), and would be the leading figure in the early development of the city until his retirement in 1864.
With the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland in 1858, Victoria became the port, supply base, and outfitting centre for miners on their way to the Fraser Canyon gold fields, mushrooming from a population of 300 to over 5000 literally within a few days. In 1866 when the island was politically united with the mainland, Victoria remained the capital of the new united colony and became the provincial capital when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871. Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862. In 1865, Esquimalt was made the North Pacific home of the Royal Navy, and remains Canada’s west coast naval base.
In 1886, with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway terminus on Burrard Inlet, Victoria’s position as the commercial centre of British Columbia was irrevocably lost to the City of Vancouver. The city subsequently began cultivating an image of genteel civility within its natural setting, an image aided by the impressions of visitors such as Rudyard Kipling, the opening of the popular Butchart Gardens in 1904 and the construction of the Empress Hotel by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1908. Robert Dunsmuir, a leading industrialist whose interests included coal mines and a railway on Vancouver Island, constructed Craigdarroch Castle in the Rockland area, near the official residence of the province’s lieutenant-governor. His son James Dunsmuir became premier and subsequently lieutenant-governor of the province and built his own grand residence at Hatley Park (used for several decades as Royal Roads Military College, now civilian Royal Roads University) in the present City of Colwood.
A real estate and development boom ended just before World War I, leaving Victoria with a large stock of Edwardian public, commercial and residential structures that have greatly contributed to the City’s character. A number of municipalities surrounding Victoria were incorporated during this period, including the Township of Esquimalt, the District of Oak Bay, and several municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula. Since World War II the Victoria area has seen relatively steady growth, becoming home to two major universities. Since the 1980s the western suburbs have been incorporated as new municipalities, such as Colwood and Langford.
Greater Victoria periodically experiences calls for the amalgamation of the thirteen municipal governments within the Capital Regional District. The opponents of amalgamation state that separate governance affords residents a greater deal of local autonomy. The proponents of amalgamation argue that it would reduce duplication of services, while allowing for more efficient use of resources and the ability to better handle broad, regional issues and long-term planning.
The landscape of Victoria was molded by water in various forms. Pleistocene glaciation put the area under a thick ice cover, the weight of which depressed the land below present sea level. These glaciers also deposited stony sandy loam till. As they retreated, their melt water left thick deposits of sand and gravel. Marine clay settled on what would later become dry land. Post-glacial rebound exposed the present-day terrain to air, raising beach and mud deposits well above sea level. The resulting soils are highly variable in texture, and abrupt textural changes are common. In general, clays are most likely to be encountered in the northern part of town and in depressions. The southern part has coarse-textured subsoils and loamy topsoils. Sandy loams and loamy sands are common in the eastern part adjoining Oak Bay. Victoria’s soils are relatively unleached and less acidic than soils elsewhere on the British Columbia coast. Their thick dark topsoils denoted a high level of fertility which made them valuable for farming until urbanization took over.
Located on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the City of Victoria has a population of approximately 78,659. The Capital Regional District, comprising thirteen municipalities informally referred to as Greater Victoria, has a population of more than 330,000 and is the largest urban area on Vancouver Island. By population, Greater Victoria is the 15th largest metropolitan area in Canada.
Victoria is well-known for its disproportionately large retiree population (home, they say, of the “newly wed and nearly dead”). Some 6.4 percent of the population of Victoria and its surrounding area are over 80 years of age – the highest proportion for any of Canada’s metropolitan areas. The city also boasts the country’s third-highest concentration of people 65 and older (17.8 per cent), behind only Peterborough, Ontario, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Retirees throughout Canada are drawn to Victoria’s mild climate, beautiful scenery, year-round golf season, and generally easy-going pace of life. A historically popular cliché about Victoria is that it is for “the newly wed and nearly dead”.