Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria, British Columbia
City of Victoria
—  City  —
Victoria Harbour, British Columbia, with the Empress Hotel in the background.


Coat of arms
Motto: Semper Liber (Latin)
(Translation: "Forever free")
Location of Victoria within the Capital Regional District in British Columbia, Canada
Coordinates: 48°25′43″N 123°21′56″W / 48.42861°N 123.36556°W / 48.42861; -123.36556
Country  Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional District Capital
Incorporated 1862[1]
 – Mayor Dean Fortin
(past mayors)
 – Governing body Victoria City Council
 – MP Denise Savoie
 – MLAs Carole James, Rob Fleming, Maurine Karagianis
 – City 19.68 km2 (7.6 sq mi)
 – Metro 540.4 km2 (208.6 sq mi)
Elevation 23 m (75 ft)
Population (2006)[2]
 – City 78,057 (63rd)
 – Density 3,965.5/km2 (10,270.6/sq mi)
 – Metro 360,063 (15th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
Postal code span V0S, V8N-V8Z, V9A-V9E
Area code(s) 250 & 778
NTS Map 092B06

Victoria (play /vɪkˈtɔriə/) is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian metro region.

Victoria is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from BC's largest city of Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Seattle by airplane or ferry, and 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Port Angeles, Washington by ferry across the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and of the Dominion of Canada, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1841. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897 and home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia) and the Empress hotel (opened in 1908). The city's Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco's. The region's Coast Salish First Nations peoples established communities in the area long before non-native settlement, possibly several thousand years earlier, which had large populations at the time of European exploration. Victoria, like many Vancouver Island communities, continues to have a sizable First Nations presence, composed of peoples from all over Vancouver Island and beyond.

Once known as the "City of Gardens," Victoria is an attractive city and a popular tourism destination with a thriving technology sector that has risen to its largest revenue producing private industry.[3] The city has a large non-local student population, who come to attend the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, the Sooke Schools International Program and the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Victoria is also popular with retirees, who come to enjoy the temperate and usually snow-free climate of the area as well as the usually relaxed pace of the city.



Prior to the arrival of Captain James Cook in the late 1700s, the Victoria 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 visits of Juan Perez in 1774 and of Captain James Cook in 1778 although the Victoria area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca was not penetrated until 1790. Spanish sailors visited Esquimalt Harbour (just west of Victoria proper) in 1790, 1791, and 1792.

In 1841 James Douglas was charged with the duty of setting up a trading post on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, upon the recommendation by Sir George Simpson that a new more northerly post be built in case Fort Vancouver fell into American hands (see Oregon boundary dispute). Douglas founded Fort Victoria, on the site of present-day Victoria, British Columbia in anticipation of the outcome of the Oregon Treaty in 1846, extending the British North America/United States border along the 49th parallel from the Rockies to the Strait of Georgia.

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")[citation needed] known briefly as "Fort Albert", the settlement was renamed Fort Victoria in 1846, in honour of Queen Victoria.[4] The Songhees established a village across the harbour from the fort. The Songhees' village was later moved north of Esquimalt. When the crown colony 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.

Wawadit'la, also known as Mungo Martin House, a Kwakwaka'wakw "big house", with heraldic d. Built by Chief Mungo Martin in 1953. Located at Thunderbird Park in Victoria, British Columbia.[5]

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. 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 1866 when the island was politically united with the mainland, Victoria was designated the capital of the new united colony instead of New Westminster - an unpopular move on the Mainland - and became the provincial capital when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871. Memoirs still in print of those early days include those by painter Emily Carr.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the Port of Victoria became one of North America's largest importers of opium, serving the opium trade from Hong Kong and distribution into North America. Opium trade was legal and unregulated until 1865, then the legislature issued licences and levied duties on its import and sale. The opium trade was banned in 1908.

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, which are known collectively as the Western Communities.

Greater Victoria periodically experiences calls for the amalgamation of the thirteen municipal governments within the Capital Regional District.[6] 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.[citation needed]



The landscape of Victoria was formed 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.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada

Victoria has a temperate climate that is usually described as Oceanic or Marine west coast, with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. Like much of the Pacific Northwest, the Köppen climate classification places it at the northernmost limits of the cool, dry-summer subtropical zone (Csb), or cool-summer Mediterranean climate due to its usually dry summers.[7] Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).[8]

At the Victoria Gonzales weather station, daily temperatures rise above 30 °C (86 °F) on an average less than one day per year and fall below −2 °C (28 °F) on an average of only 6 nights per year. During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8 and 4 °C (46.4 and 39.2 °F), respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) and low of 11 °C (51.8 °F), although inland areas often experience warmer daytime highs. Victoria does occasionally experience more extreme temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded in Victoria was 36.0 °C (97 °F) on July 11, 2007,[9] while the coldest temperature on record was −16 °C (3 °F) on December 29, 1968.

Colourful flowers bedeck the genteel "Garden City" downtown

Total annual precipitation is just 608 mm (23.9 in) at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria, contrasted to nearby Seattle, (137 km/85 mi away to the southeast), with 970 mm (38.2 in) of rainfall, or Vancouver, 100 km (62 mi) away, with 1,219 mm (48 in) of rainfall. Perhaps even more dramatic is the difference in rainfalls on Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew, just 80 km from Victoria on the wet southwest coast of Vancouver Island receives 3,671 mm (144.5 in). Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km (16 mi) north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper. One of the most striking features of Victoria's climate is the distinct dry and rainy seasons. Nearly two thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February. Precipitation in December, the wettest month (109 mm/4.3 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm/0.55 in). During the summer months, Victoria is the driest major city in Canada.

Victoria averages just 26 cm (10.2 in) of snow annually, or about half that of Vancouver. Every few decades, Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the more than 100 cm (39.4 in) of snow that fell in December 1996. On the other hand, roughly one third of winters will see virtually no snow, with less than 5 cm (1.97 in) falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just 2–3 days per year with at least 5 cm (1.97 in) of snow on the ground.

The rain shadow effect of the Washington Olympic Mountains to the south also means that Victoria gets more sunshine than surrounding areas.[citation needed] With 2,193 hours of sun annually, Victoria is one of the sunniest places in British Columbia, and gets more sunshine than most other cities in Canada except those in the southern Prairies.

Climate data for Victoria (Gonzales), British Columbia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.1
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.0
Average low °C (°F) 3.0
Record low °C (°F) −14.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 94.3
Rainfall mm (inches) 85.2
Snowfall cm (inches) 9.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 17.0 15.4 13.6 10.4 9.0 7.1 4.9 4.8 7.9 11.9 16.1 17.5 135.6
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 14.6 14.3 12.9 10.4 9.0 7.1 4.9 4.8 7.9 11.9 15.3 16.1 129.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 2.6 1.7 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.8 1.9 7.8
Sunshine hours 74.1 93.7 149.5 201.5 266.6 273.8 327.8 297.3 204.1 153.4 83.1 68.7 2,193.3
Source: Environment Canada
Victoria's Harbour with Songhees condominiums in the background

Victoria's equable climate has also added to its reputation as the "City of Gardens". The city takes pride in the many flowers that bloom during the winter and early spring, including crocuses, daffodils, early-blooming rhododendrons, cherry and plum trees. Every February there is an annual "flower count" in what for the rest of the country and most of the province is still the dead of winter.

Due to its mild climate, Victoria and its surrounding area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast) is also home to many rare, native plants found nowhere else in Canada, including Quercus garryana (Garry oak), Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita), and Canada's only broad leaf evergreen tree, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone). Many of these species exist here at the northern end of their range, and are found as far south as Central and Southern California, and even parts of Mexico.

Non-native plants found in Victoria include Washingtonia palm trees, one of which can be found in front of city hall. Palm trees of this genus are not capable of surviving in the ground anywhere else in Canada. A variety of cold-hardy palms (mainly in the Trachycarpus genus) dot gardens and public areas of Victoria.

Neighbourhoods of Victoria

The main dome of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, topped with a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver

The following is a list of neighbourhoods in the City of Victoria, as defined by the city planning department. For a list of neighbourhoods in other area municipalities, see Greater Victoria, or the individual entries for those municipalities.

  • Burnside
  • Downtown
  • Esquimalt
  • Fairfield
  • Fernwood
  • Gonzales (Foul Bay)
  • Gorge/Tillicum
  • Harris Green
  • Hillside-Quadra
  • James Bay
  • Jubilee (North/South)
  • North Park
  • Oaklands
  • Rockland
  • Victoria West

Informal neighbourhoods include:

  • Chinatown
  • Rock Bay
  • Oak Bay Border (Foul Bay Road)
  • Songhees (part of Vic West)
  • Selkirk



Census Population
1871 3,270
1881 5,925
1891 16,841
1901 20,816
1911 31,660
1921 38,727
1931 39,082
1941 42,907
1951 51,331
1961 54,941
1971 61,761
1981 64,379
1991 71,228
2001 74,125
2006 78,057

The population of the City of Victoria was 78,057 in 2006. The Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, comprising thirteen municipalities informally referred to as Greater Victoria, has a population of 330,088 and is the largest urban area on Vancouver Island.[10] By population, Greater Victoria is the 15th largest metropolitan area in Canada. The Capital Regional District, which includes additional rural areas, has a total population of 345,164.

Age distribution

Victoria is known for its disproportionately large retiree population. Some 6.4 percent of the population of Victoria and its surrounding area are more than 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.[11] 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 referring to the city was that it is for "the newly wed and nearly dead".[12]

Ethnic origins

Note: These categories are those used by Statistics Canada.


Note: these categories are those used in the Statistics Canada census.


The city's chief industries are technology, food products, tourism, education, federal and provincial government administration and services.[citation needed] Other nearby employers include the Canadian Forces (the Township of Esquimalt is the home of the Pacific headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy), and the University of Victoria (located in the municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich) and Camosun College (which have over 33,000 faculty, staff and students combined). Other sectors of the Greater Victoria area economy include: investment and banking, online book publishing, various public and private schools, food products manufacturing, light aircraft manufacturing, technology products, various high tech firms in pharmaceuticals and computers, engineering, architecture and telecommunications.

The Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) is an umbrella organization, partnership between industry and education, promoting high tech industry development in the Victoria region.

The May 24, 2007 edition of the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper reported that for the first time in Victoria history, high technology has overtaken tourism as the top performing economic sector in Greater Victoria. A gala awards event was staged at the Victoria Conference Centre for business executives and companies that achieved excellence in their respective fields.

The Victoria Region was experiencing a booming real estate economy up until late 2007. Its deflating real estate fortunes are attributed in part to the aftermath of the Global financial crisis of 2008. These incidents and other world financial issues are blamed for a potential economic near future recession, where some regions will survive better than others, depending on their policy plans or lack of plans.

Lower interest rates in the spring of 2009 have fueled yet another round of speculative real estate purchases, despite Victoria already ranking as 'Severely Unaffordable' in the "5th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey". Housing experts who don't stand to gain from high real estate prices in Victoria have pointed out that Western Canadian 'bubble' cities will inevitably follow the path that virtually all the other 'Severely Unaffordable'-ranked cities have taken: substantial and long lasting price decreases. Experts assume the likely trigger for the substantial price decrease will be from many home buyers who, having only afforded their purchase due to historically low rates and very low equity requirements, must reset their mortgage payment amount under significantly higher interest rates and tightened lending environments. Experts further point out this scenario has already been played out by virtually all other 'bubble' housing markets in the world so far, with or without American-style mortgages, with disastrous results for the home purchasers and the local economies. A potential saving grace is that the steady flow of baby-boomers retiring to Victoria is unlikely to slow for 15 or 20 years. In fact, average selling prices of homes in Victoria have steadily increased since Jan/Feb 2009[21] although as of Nov. 2011, the average price for single-family homes sold in Greater Victoria last month was $595,836 down from $622,393 in September. The median price increased to $539,750 while the six-month average decreased slightly to $619,828. The overall average price for condominiums last month was $307,329, down from $332,490 in September. The median price for condominiums in October declined only slightly to $277,000 while the average for the last six months declined to $323,039. The average price of all townhomes sold last month was $428,040 compared to $436,039 in September. The median price declined to $374,500 while the six month average declined to $438,167.[22]

Technology industry

Advanced technology is Victoria's largest revenue producing private industry with $1.95 billion in annual revenues generated by more than 800 tech companies that have over 13,000 direct employees.[23] The annual economic impact of the sector is estimated at more than $2.65 billion per year.[23] With three post secondary institutions, eight federal research labs, and Canada's Pacific Navy Base, Victoria has many of the elements required for a strong technology sector. Victoria has Canada's highest household internet usage and is ranked as "Canada's Smartest City" by Macleans Magazine.[24]

Tourism industry

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens

Victoria is a major tourism destination with over 3.5 million overnight visitors per year who add more than a billion dollars to the local economy,.[25] As well, an additional 500,000 daytime visitors arrive via cruise ships which dock at Ogden Point near the city's Inner Harbour. The city is also close to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, the Canadian Navy's primary Pacific Ocean naval base. Downtown Victoria also serves as Greater Victoria's regional downtown, where many night clubs, theatres, restaurants and pubs are clustered, and where many regional public events occur. Canada Day fireworks displays, Symphony Splash, and many other music festivals and cultural events draw tens of thousands of Greater Victorians and visitors to the downtown core. The Rifflandia and Electronic Music Festival are other music events that draw crowds to the downtown core.

The city and metro region has hosted high-profile sports events including the 1994 Commonwealth Games, the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the 2005 Ford World Men's Curling Championship tournament, 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 attracts boaters from around the world to participate in the boat race in the waters off of Vancouver Island, and the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival brings over 90 teams from around North America. The Tall Ships Festival brings sailing ships to the city harbour. Victoria also hosts the start of the Vic-Maui Yacht Race, the longest offshore sailboat race on the West Coast.[citation needed]

The Port of Victoria consists of three parts, the Outer Harbour, used by deep sea vessels, the Inner and Upper Harbours, used by coastal and industrial traffic. It is protected by a breakwater with a deep and wide opening. The port is a working harbour, tourist attraction and cruise destination. Esquimalt Harbour is also a well-protected harbour with large graving dock and shipbuilding and repair facilities.

Social conditions

In January 2005, a volunteer study by the Victoria Cool-Aid Society found the homeless population to be approximately 700 individuals (although this number has likely grown since then).[26] This was the first homeless count in the city.[citation needed] In 2006, a Times-Colonist news article estimated the homeless population to have increased by 30% in just a few weeks due to the anticipated tourism boom of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.[27] In early 2008, an anti-homelessness program based on a successful Italian program was introduced to Victoria. Built on a farm in Central Saanich, the program would typically span two to five years for a homeless person to fully recover. The program boasts a 70 to 80 percent success rate, as opposed to the usual 28 day program with a five to ten percent success rate.[28]

The homeless survey conducted by the Victoria Cool-Aid Society found 50% of the homeless population identify themselves as being of First Nations origin, and the majority of people living on the streets do not receive income assistance from the government.[26]


British Columbia Parliament Buildings
Totem pole on the inner harbour.

The Victoria Symphony, led by Tania Miller, performs at the Royal Theatre and the Farquhar Auditorium of the University of Victoria from September to May. Every BC Day weekend, the Symphony mounts Symphony Splash, an outdoor event that includes a performance by the orchestra sitting on a barge in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Streets in the local area are closed, as each year approximately 40,000 people attend a variety of concerts and events throughout the day. The event culminates with the Symphony's evening concert, with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture as the grand finale, complete with cannon-fire from Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Gunners from HMCS QUADRA, a pealing carillon and a fireworks display to honour BC Day. Pacific Opera Victoria, Victoria Philharmonic Choir, Canadian Pacific Ballet and Ballet Victoria stage two or three productions each year at the Macpherson or Royal Theatres. The Electronic Music Festival takes place in Centennial Square during the same time period for the BC Day holiday; DJs from various places show off their music skills.

The Bastion Theatre, a professional dramatic company, functioned in Victoria through the 1970s and '80s and performed high quality dramatic productions but ultimately declared bankruptcy in 1988. Reborn as The New Bastion Theatre in 1990 the company struggled for two more years before closing operations in 1992.

The Belfry Theatre started in 1974 as the Springridge Cultural Centre in 1974. The venue was renamed the Belfry Theatre in 1976 as the company began producing its own shows. The Belfry's mandate is to produce contemporary plays with an emphasis on new Canadian plays.

One of the stone lions that guard the gate at Chinatown in Victoria.

Other regional theatre venues include: Phoenix Theatre student theatre at the University of Victoria, Kaleidoscope Theatre and Intrepid Theatre, producers of the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival and The Uno Festival of Solo Performance.

The only Canadian Forces Primary Reserve brass/reed band on Vancouver Island is located in Victoria. The 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band traces its roots back to 1864, making it the oldest, continually operational military band west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Its mandate is to support the island's military community by performing at military dinners, parades and ceremonies, and other events. The band performs weekly in August at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site where the Regiment started manning the guns of the fort in 1896, and also performs every year at the Cameron Bandshell at Beacon Hill Park.

The current major sporting and entertainment complex, for Victoria and Vancouver Island Region, is the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena. It replaced the former Victoria Memorial Arena, which was constructed by efforts of World War II veterans as a monument to fallen comrades. World War I, World War II, Korean War, and other conflict veterans are also commemorated. Fallen Canadian soldiers in past, present, and future wars and/or United Nations, NATO missions are noted, or will be noted by the main lobby monument at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre. The arena was the home of the ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League) team, Victoria Salmon Kings, owned by RG Properties Limited, a real estate development firm that built the Victoria Save On Foods Memorial Centre, and Prospera Place Arena in Kelowna. The arena will be the home of the Victoria Royals Western Hockey League (WHL) team that replaced the Victoria Salmon Kings.

A number of well-known musicians and bands are from Victoria, including Nelly Furtado, David Foster, The Moffatts, Frog Eyes, Johnny Vallis, Jets Overhead, Bryce Soderberg, Swollen Members, Armchair Cynics, Nomeansno, Wolf Parade, The Racoons and Hot Hot Heat. Due to the proximity to Vancouver and a 6% distance location tax credit, Victoria is used as a filming location for many films, TV shows, and television movies. Some of these films include X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, In the Land of Women, White Chicks, Scary Movie, Final Destination, Excess Baggage, and Bird on a Wire. Television shows such as Smallville, The Dead Zone, and Poltergeist: The Legacy were also filmed there. Canadian director Atom Egoyan was raised in Victoria. Actors Cameron Bright (Ultraviolet, X-Men: The Last Stand, Thank You For Smoking, New Moon) and Ryan Robbins (Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, Sanctuary) were born in Victoria. Actor Cory Monteith from the television series Glee was raised in Victoria. Actor, artist, athlete Duncan Regehr of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was raised in the region.


Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia
Part of Victoria's skyline in May 2006 from Thunderbird Park.
The Inner Harbour is popular with tourists.
Fisherman's Wharf has a number of houseboats, some of which serve as restaurants.

Beacon Hill Park is the central city's main urban green space. Its area of 75 hectares (185 acres) adjacent to Victoria's southern shore includes numerous playing fields, manicured gardens, exotic species of plants and animals such as wild peacocks, a petting zoo, and views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountain range. The sport of cricket has been played in Beacon Hill Park since the mid-nineteenth century.[29] Each summer, Beacon Hill Park plays host to several outdoor concerts, and the Luminara Community Lantern Festival.[30]

The extensive system of parks in Victoria also includes a few areas of natural Garry oak meadow habitat, an increasingly scarce ecosystem that once dominated the region.

In the heart of downtown are the British Columbia Legislative Buildings, The Empress Hotel, Victoria Police Department Station Museum, the gothic Christ Church Cathedral, and the Royal British Columbia Museum/IMAX National Geographic Theatre, with large exhibits on local Aboriginal peoples, natural history, and modern history, along with travelling international exhibits. In addition, the heart of downtown also has the Emily Carr House, Royal London Wax Museum, Victoria Bug Zoo, Market Square and the Pacific Undersea Gardens, which showcases marine life of British Columbia. The oldest (and most intact) Chinatown in Canada is located within downtown. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located close to downtown in the Rockland neighbourhood several city blocks from Craigdarroch Castle built by industrialist Robert Dunsmuir and Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

Numerous other buildings of historic importance or interest are also located in central Victoria, including: the 1845 St. Ann's Schoolhouse; the 1852 Helmcken House built for Victoria's first doctor; the 1863 Temple Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Canada; the 1865 Angela College built as Victoria's first Anglican Collegiate School for Girls, now housing retired nuns of the Sisters of St. Ann; the 1871 St. Ann's Academy built as a Catholic school; the 1874 Church of Our Lord, built to house a breakaway congregation from the Anglican Christ Church cathedral; the 1890 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church[31]; the 1890 Metropolitan Methodist Church (now the Victoria Conservatory of Music), [32] which is publicly open for faculty, student, and guest performances, also acts as Camosun College Music Department; the 1892 St. Andrew's Cathedral; and the 1925 Crystal Gardens, originally a saltwater swimming pool, restored as a conservatory and most recently a tourist attraction called the B.C. Experience, which closed down in 2006. Victoria is also famous for its Capital Iron Building, which is a prime focus in its downtown core.[citation needed]

CFB Esquimalt navy base, in the adjacent municipality of Esquimalt, has a base museum dedicated to naval and military history, located in the Naden part of the base.[citation needed]

North of the city on the Saanich Peninsula are the marine biology Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Butchart Gardens, one of the biggest tourist and local resident attractions on Vancouver Island, as well as the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, part of the National Research Council of Canada, Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Centre of the Universe planetarium.[33] Notable museums in Victoria include the Royal British Columbia Museum,the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and the British Columbia Aviation Museum located on the north edge of the Victoria International Airport. There are also numerous National Historic Sites in close proximity to Victoria, such as the Fisgard Lighthouse, Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse, Hatley Castle and Hatley Park and Fort Rodd Hill, which is a coastal artillery fort built in the late 1890s, located west of the city in Colwood. Also located west of the city is Western Speedway, a 4/10th-mile oval vehicular race track and the largest in Western Canada.


Steve Nash, twice Most Valuable Player in the National Basketball Association, grew up in Victoria. Michael Saunders, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners was born in Victoria and still lives there during the off season. Baseball pitcher Rich Harden of the Oakland Athletics is from Victoria. Professional racing cyclist Ryder Hesjedal was born in Victoria and still calls the city home. Olympic Games athletes Riley Mccormick, Silken Laumann, Ryan Cochrane, and Simon Whitfield reside or were born in Victoria.

In 1994 Victoria hosted the Commonwealth Games. Victoria was also the first city location of the cross Canada 2010 Winter Olympics torch relay that occurred before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup was co-hosted by Victoria along with five other Canadian cities/municipalities (Burnaby, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal).

The Victoria Cougars are perhaps the most famous sports franchise the city has known, winning the Stanley Cup as members of the PCHA in 1925. The team then moved to Detroit under the name of the Detroit Cougars before the team changed its name to the current Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. Today a Junior 'B' team of that name plays in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. There was also a team called the Victoria Cougars in the Western Hockey League, but they are now the Prince George Cougars.

Victoria have been named as a team in the WAMNRL (American National Rugby League) which will begin in summer 2011.[34]

Notable sports teams

Club Sport League Venue
Victoria Royals Ice Hockey Western Hockey League Save on Foods Memorial Centre
UVic Vikes various Canadian Interuniversity Sport various
Camosun Chargers various Canadian Colleges Athletic Association various
Victoria Highlanders Soccer USL Premier Development League Bear Mountain Stadium
Victoria Shamrocks Box Lacrosse Western Lacrosse Association Bear Mountain Arena
Victoria Grizzlies Ice Hockey British Columbia Hockey League Bear Mountain Arena
Westshore Rebels Canadian Football Canadian Junior Football League Bear Mountain Stadium
Victoria United Soccer Pacific Coast Soccer League Royal Athletic Park

Notable defunct teams


Victoria's climate, location and variety of facilities make it ideal for many recreational activities including hiking, kayaking, golf, water sports, informal team sports and jogging.

Victoria is also known as the Cycling Capital of Canada,[35] with hundreds of kilometres of bicycle paths, bike lanes and bike routes in the city, including the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. There are mountain biking trails at Mount Work Regional Park,[36] and Victoria is quickly becoming a bike tourism destination.[37]

Cycling advocacy groups including Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC) and the Bike To Work Society have worked to improve Victoria's cycling infrastructure and facilities, and to make cycling a viable transportation alternative, attracting 5% of commuters in 2005.[38]


The Jordan River Diversion Dam is Vancouver Island's main hydroelectric power station. It was built in 1911.[39]

The city's water is supplied by the Capital Regional District's Water Services Department from its Sooke Lake Reservoir. The lake water is very soft and requires no filtering. It is treated with chlorine, ammonia and ultraviolet light to control micro-organisms.[40]

The water used to flow through the 44 km (27 mi) Sooke Flowline which has now been retired but can still be visited today.

The Hartland landfill is the waste disposal site for Greater Victoria area. Since 1985, it has been run by the Capital Regional District environmental services. It is located on top of a hill, between Victoria and Sidney, at the end of Hartland Avenue.48°32′17″N 123°27′48″W / 48.538148°N 123.463368°W / 48.538148; -123.463368 There is a recycling centre, a sewer solid waste collection, hazardous waste collection, and an electricity generating station. This generating station now creates 1.6 megawatts of electricity, enough for 1,600 homes.[41] The site has won international environmental awards.[42] The CRD conducts public tours of the facility. It is predicted to be full by 2045.

Victoria discharges 129 million litres (4.56 million cu ft)[43] of screened but untreated sewage into the ocean every day. The sewage treatment facilities at Clover and Macaulay points serve most of Victoria. At these facilities, the sewage is screened to exclude objects larger than 6 millimetres (¼ in) prior to release into ocean outfalls.[44] This procedure is heavily criticized,[45][46] and the CRD is currently planning the upgrading of wastewater treatment practices.

The Saanich Peninsula wastewater treatment plant serves North Saanich, Central Saanich and the Town of Sidney as well as the Victoria International Airport, the Institute of Ocean Sciences and the Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nations communities. This is a secondary level treatment plant which produces Class A biosolids.[44]


Local public transportation is run by the Victoria Regional Transit System, which is part of BC Transit. Since 2000, double decker buses have been introduced to the fleet and have become an icon for the city. Rider fare payments can be made in cash, monthly bus passes, disability yearly passes, or tickets.

Passenger rail service to Victoria is provided by Via Rail, which operates the Victoria – Courtenay train north, along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, to the cities of Nanaimo, Courtenay, and points between. There is one daily return trip, departing Victoria in the morning, and returning from Courtenay in the evening.

The Victoria International Airport has non-stop flights to and from Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle and many cities throughout Western Canada. Multiple scheduled helicopter and seaplane flights are available daily from Victoria's Inner Harbour to Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver Harbour, and Seattle. The BC Ferries Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, located 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of Victoria, has hourly sailings to Tsawwassen (a ferry terminal south of Vancouver) and to many of the Gulf Islands. The Washington State Ferry terminal in Sidney provides ferry service to Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, and ultimately Anacortes, Washington. In Victoria's Inner Harbour, an international ferry terminal provides car ferry[disambiguation needed ] service (M/V Coho[47]) to Port Angeles, Washington, high-speed catamaran service (Victoria Clipper) to Downtown Seattle, and seasonal passenger ferries to destinations in Washington including Friday Harbor, Port Angeles, and Bellingham. Victoria also serves as the western terminus (Mile Zero) for Canada's Trans-Canada Highway, the longest national highway in the world. The Mile Zero is located in the southern part of the city at the corner of Douglas Street and Dallas Road, where there is a small monument.

Direct flights between Victoria and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland, Silicon Valley) began service on June 5, 2008 (Victoria Times Colonist, February 6, 2008). Trips will be 2 hours instead of the usual 6 hours because there will be no stop overs in Seattle, as with other flights. The service will be operated by United Airlines, using 66 seat Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft. The same newspaper article also mentions the Victoria Airport Authority's plans for further capacity expansions at the Victoria International Airport. These are expected to offer extended economic benefits to the region, especially the Tourism and High Tech industries. West Jet started a direct flight service to Las Vegas, Nevada, three times per week, on September 9, 2008 (Victoria Times Colonist, May 29, 2008).

Bus service between Victoria and Vancouver is run by Pacific Coach Lines(Pacific Coach Lines). As the service is a cross-water service it is co-ordinated with the BC Ferries schedule. Average travel time between the two cities is 4 hours. Bus service from Victoria to points up island is run by Vancouver Island Coach lines. Both bus services depart from the Victoria bus terminal located at 900 Douglas Street, behind the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Local roadways, although showing signs of increasing congestion due to increasing population, are relatively easy to travel via a variety of means. However, roads in Victoria are not based on a grid system as in Vancouver or Edmonton, and even most major streets do not follow a straight line from beginning to end as they wind around hills, parks, coastlines, and historic neighbourhoods, often changing names two or three times. There is no distinction between "streets" and "avenues" in Victoria as there is in other cities such as Vancouver or Edmonton where "streets" run north-south and "avenues" run east-west, and Victorians are very unlikely to use the terms "north", "south", "east", or "west" when giving directions.

Within the Greater Victoria area, private cars, SUVs, and light trucks together make up the majority of trips. However, the city boasts an excellent public transit system using a fleet of modern buses, and is beginning to plan for a rapid transit link to the western communities. Greater Victoria also has an expanding system designed to facilitate bicycles and electrically assisted bicycles via bike lanes on many main roads as well as the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and Lochside Regional Trail. These trails are designed exclusively for foot traffic and cyclists, and now pass through many communities, beginning at the downtown core and extending into areas such as Langford and Central and North Saanich.

The compact size of the city lends itself readily to smaller, fuel efficient alternatives to full blown passenger cars, such as scooters, as areas with signicantly steep hills, such as one would find in San Francisco, are very few. Victoria is also in the process of making the use of such methods of transportation more desirable (in a push towards a more "green", eco-friendly environment), by offering incentives to use such modes of transport, such as parking spaces in the downtown core specifically designed for vehicles "3 metres (9.8 ft) or less" in wheelbase size, thus fostering the desirability for ownership of vehicles such as Smart Cars, motorcycles and small displacement scooters. Generally speaking, one can expect to reach almost most destinations within Greater Victoria within a time span of 20 – 30 minutes, perhaps approximately 60 minutes, dependent on traffic conditions, road construction or other reasons for blockage, where you are coming from, going to, and mode of transport. Travel time is longer during rush hour times due to large volume of traffic.


The city of Victoria lies entirely within the Greater Victoria School District. There is one high school located within the city boundaries, Victoria High School, founded in 1876, making it the oldest High School in North America north of Portland, Oregon and west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Most of the elementary schools in Victoria now offer the popular French immersion programmes in addition to programs in English. The educational needs of the Francophone community in Victoria are served by Ecole Victor Brodeur in the adjacent municipality of Esquimalt. In addition, within the city proper there are several smaller schools serving segments of the community such as the Chinese School in Chinatown, St. Andrew's Elementary School and Christ Church Cathedral School. The senior campus of Glenlyon-Norfolk House School is located in the Fairfield neighbourhood.

The City of Victoria is served by three public post secondary educational institutions actually located outside the city in the Greater Victoria area: University of Victoria (UVic), Camosun College, and Royal Roads University. Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific is an international school, in Metchosin, a municipality to the west of Victoria. There are also several private vocational and English (ESL) training schools available for people who want to learn the English language or upgrade new job market skills. Sprott-Shaw Community College is a private career training institution that has had a campus in Victoria since 1913.


Victoria is the only Canadian provincial capital without a local CBC Television station, owned-and-operated or affiliate, although it does host a small CBC Radio station in the 1000 block of Pandora Avenue. The region is considered to be a part of the Vancouver television market, receiving most stations that broadcast from across the Strait of Georgia, including the CBC, CTV, Citytv, and Global networks. Television stations based in Victoria include CHEK and CTV Two (formerly The New VI and A-Channel).

Sister cities

Victoria has four Sister Cities:

See also


  1. ^ City of Victoria - History
  2. ^ a b "2006 Community Profiles". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  3. ^ Gemme, Brigitte. "Economic Impact of the Greater Victoria Technology Sector". This report was commissioned by the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) and prepared by Brigitte Gemme, Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia. The study was supported by the ACCELERATE BC (MITACS) internship program. The Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation and its director, professor James Tansey, generously hosted the author of the report during the internship. The author and VIATeC would also like to thank the Victoria technology sector organizations who took the time to participate in this study.. University of British Columbia. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  4. ^ City of Victoria - History
  5. ^ "Thunderbird Park – A Place of Cultural Sharing". Royal British Columbia Museum. Retrieved 2010-02-07.  House built by Mungo Martin and David Martin with carpenter Robert J. Wallace. Based on Chief Nakap'ankam's house in Tsaxis (Fort Rupert). The house "bears on its housex-posts the hereditary cresdts of Marfddtin's family." It continues to be used for ceremonies with the permission of Chief Oast'akalagalis 'Walas 'Namugwis x(Peter Knox, Martin's grandson) and Mable Knox. Pole carved by Mungo Martin, David Martin and Mildred Hunt. "Rather than display his own crests on the pole, which was customary, Martin chose to include crests representing the A'wa'etlala, Kwagu'l, 'Nak'waxda'xw and 'Namgis Nations. In this way, the pole represents and honours all the Kwakwaka'wakw people."
  6. ^ "Hansard - Tuesday, February 19, 1974 - Afternoon Sitting.". Queen's Printer, Victoria, B.C., Canada. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  7. ^ Kottek, M.; J. Grieser, C. Beck, B. Rudolf, and F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". Meteorol. Z. 15 (3): 259–263. doi:10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  8. ^ Global Ecological Zoning for the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000
  9. ^ "Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000, Victoria Gonzales Pt.". Environment Canada National Climate Data and Information Archive. April 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  10. ^ Population Counts, Land Area, Population Density and Population Rank, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Census Subdivisions (Municipalities), 2006 Census - 100% Data
  11. ^ "Victoria, B.C. a Mecca for elderly: census". Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  12. ^ "City of Victoria Profile". Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  13. ^ Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada - Victoria, BC (2006 Census)
  14. ^ NB combined single and multiple responses - 30,945 and 44,445 respectively
  15. ^ NB does not total 100% because all figures are multiple responses
  16. ^ "n.i.e." means "not included elsewhere"
  17. ^ "n.o.s." means "not otherwise specified"
  18. ^ 2006 Community Profiles - Census Subdivision: Visible Minority Population
  19. ^ combined figure for "Latin American, Southeast Asian, Arab, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, Visible minority n.i.e. and Multiple Visible Minority"
  20. ^ StatsCan Definition of "Not a visible minority"
  21. ^
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ a b Gemme, Brigitte. "The Economic Impact of the Greater Victoria Technology Sector". This report was commissioned by the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) and prepared by Brigitte Gemme, Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia. The study was supported by the ACCELERATE BC (MITACS) internship program. The Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation and its director, professor James Tansey, generously hosted the author of the report during the internship.. University of British Columbia. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  24. ^ "Canada's Smartest Cities". Canada's smartest cities 2010. Macleans Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  25. ^ Tourism Victoria
  26. ^ a b Homeless Count – 2005 Victoria, BC Cool Aid Society. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  27. ^ Homeless influx hits Victoria Victoria Times Colonist, 16 May 2006
  28. ^ Saanich farm could be new training facility for homeless Victoria Times Colonist, 13 January 2008
  29. ^ Cricket in Canada/Daily Colonist, March 16, 1863
  30. ^ Luminara Community Lantern Festival
  31. ^ St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (1890)
  32. ^ Victoria Conservatory of Music
  33. ^ BRC-HIA: Centre of the Universe - Public Observatory and Astronomy Centre[dead link]
  34. ^ RL hopes to move west
  35. ^ "Pedal - Canada's Cycling Magazine". Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ Hall, Mary Beth. An Interview with Todd Litman. Cycle Therapy. Fall 2009
  38. ^ "doi:10.1016/j.tranpol.2005.11.001" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  39. ^ Newcomb,John. A source of Victoria's power, 18 March 2001 (pdf 140K). [2]
  40. ^ "Water Services". CRD. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  41. ^ "Hartland Overview". 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  42. ^ Hartland Landfill Site Rehabilitation
  43. ^ "Victoria Times Colonist; Backgrounder: Victoria's sewage". Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  44. ^ a b
  45. ^ "CTV News | Groups demand sewage treatment in Victoria, B.C". Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  46. ^ "Victoria flushing away its image". 2006-07-12. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  47. ^ Coho ferry

External links

Coordinates: 48°25′20″N 123°21′57″W / 48.422151°N 123.3657°W / 48.422151; -123.3657 (Victoria)

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