This most “English” city has Canada’s gentlest climate, with only 27 inches of rain per year…and a year round average of 6 hours of sunshine per day. It’s a small city and can easily be seen on foot. You’ll find flower baskets hanging from lamp posts, cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks, arcades, squares, alleys, quaint shops, and street names that seem to come straight from England.
BASTION SQUARE: The historic city center…the site where James Douglas established Fort Victoria for the Hudson Bay Company in 1843. The old courthouse is now the MARITIME MUSEUM with a collection of maritime artifacts.
VICTORIA HARBOR: The heart of the city…always bustling with ferries, seaplanes, and yachts from all over the world. Clustered around the harbor are the ivy-covered EMPRESS HOTEL, and the neo-Gothic Columbia Parliament Building, built of local stone and wood and opened in 1808. At night it is beautifully lit with thousands of electric lights like a fairy-tale castle. Visitors can take guided tours of the building or stroll the grounds.
The PACIFIC UNDERSEAS GARDENS, beside the Blackball Ferry terminal, is a natural aquarium with more than 5000 species from the area.
THUNDERBIRD PARK, nearby, claims the world’s largest/finest collection of colorful totem poles. The excellent BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVINCIAL MUSEUM here recalls life before the arrival of the white man.
ROYAL LONDON WAX MUSEUM on the inner harbor offers a collection of 180 figures.
ESQUIMALT: A suburb…a recreated Shakespearean-era English village…includes Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It’s authentically furnished with 16th c. antiques.
HIGH TEA AT THE EMPRESS HOTEL: In this bit of genteel England preserved, one sits in deep armchairs, nibbles on scones or crumpets with honey, butter, jam, and clotted cream or thin sandwiches…and sips blended tea…all from the finest china and silverware. The Empress’s impressive guest list has included Churchill, Bob Hope, John Wayne…and Richard Nixon honeymooned here. It’s not cheap, but DO SPLURGE and have High Tea at the Empress. Reservations are necessary.
BEACON HILL PARK: …swans and one of the world’s largest totem poles in this beautiful city park.
BUTCHART GARDENS: Located 14 miles north of Victoria. This is considered by some (this writer included) to be the floral showplace of North America. There are 33 acres of beautiful gardens and fountains…well cared for. You’ll love it. The number one tourist attraction.
FERRIES TO SEATTLE; The Princess Marguerite, a refurbished steamship, sails between Victoria and Seattle in the summer. Washington State Ferries operates daily between Sidney, Victoria, and Anacortes, Washington, with San Juan Island Ports of Call.