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VICTORIA

Picturesque Victoria is the perfect getaway from bustling Vancouver. Established as a fort in 1843 by the Hudson’s Bay Company, Victoria became British Columbia (BC)’s capital in 1868, and the growing city attracted top architects such as Francis Mawson Rattenbury. Today the “Garden City” buzzes around the Inner Harbour, and nearby are some excellent museums, the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and the home of Victoria’s most famous artist, Emily Carr.

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info Royal British Columbia Museum; 675 Belleville St; 1 888 447 7977; open 10am–5pm daily; closed Jan 1 & Dec 25; adm; www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

prac_info Inner Harbour

prac_info British Columbia Parliament Buildings; 501 Belleville St; 250 387 3046; open for guided tours 9am–5pm daily; www.leg.bc.ca

prac_info Craigdarroch Castle; 1050 Joan Cres; 250 592 5323; open mid-Jun–Labour Day: 9am–7pm daily, Labour Day–mid-Jun: 10am–4:30pm daily; adm; www.thecastle.ca

prac_info Beacon Hill Park; 250 385 5711; www.victoria.ca

prac_info Chinatown; Fisgard & Herald Sts at Government St

prac_info Maritime Museum of British Columbia; 634 Humboldt St; 250 385 4222; open 10am–5pm daily (Sep–May: to 4pm Tue–Sat); adm; www.mmbc.bc.ca

prac_info Emily Carr House; 207 Government St; 250 383 5843; open May–Sep: 11am–4pm Tue–Sat; adm; www.emilycarr.com

prac_info Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; 1040 Moss St; 250 384 4171; open 10am–5pm Tue–Sat (to 9pm Thu), noon–5pm Sun; adm; www.aggv.ca

Google Map

  • BC Ferries connect Vancouver with Victoria. BC Transit operate a large network of buses across the city.
  • A trip with Harbour Ferry (250 708 0201, www.victoriaharbourferry.com) is a great way to sight-see.

1. Royal British Columbia Museum

Google Map

This museum is known for its First Nations artifacts and art, as well as a fascinating collection of highlights from BC’s history and its natural wonders (see Royal British Columbia Museum). Changing exhibitions are highly thought-provoking.

2. Fairmont Empress Hotel

Google Map

This luxury château-style hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1908. The afternoon tea, served here daily, is a fine treat and an elegant experience.

3. British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Google Map

Impressive gray granite buildings house the provincial legislature. Overlooking the Inner Harbour, the Neo-Classical structure is a wonderful sight at night, illuminated by 3,560 sparkling light bulbs.

TopTen

The magnificient front façade of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings

4. Inner Harbour

Google Map

The Inner Harbour is the historic center of Victoria. A mix of yachts, fishing boats, ferries, and float planes dock here, while pedestrians happily stroll along a wide, curved walkway.

TopTen

The historic Inner Harbour of Victoria, British Columbia

5. Craigdarroch Castle

Google Map

This four-story, 39-room stone mansion was built in the late 1880s for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. Highlights include period furnishings, stained-glass windows and a grand oak staircase.

TopTen

A beautiful stained-glass window of the Craigdarroch Castle

6. Beacon Hill Park

Google Map

Noted for its gnarled Garry oak trees and 350-year-old Chinese bell, this park, dating from the mid-1800s, is a lovely place to stroll around and have a picnic.

7. Maritime Museum of British Columbia

Google Map

This museum showcases BC’s rich seafaring past, with 35,000 artifacts as well as informative walking tours of the Inner Harbour. Visitors can also learn about pirates and infamous shipwrecks, or try their hands at sailor’s knot.

8. Emily Carr House

Google Map

Built in 1864, the house that artist Emily Carr was born in typifies the sensibilities of the Victorian era. The building has been described as both English Gingerbread as well as San Francisco Victorian, inspiring the restoration of many of the area’s old houses.

9. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Google Map

Housed in an 1889 mansion, this gallery is known for its Asian collection, including a Shinto shrine in the Asian garden. Paintings and literary work by local artist Emily Carr are also featured.

TopTen

Blue Sky, by Emily Carr

10. Chinatown

Google Map

The Chinatown in Victoria once rivaled San Francisco’s for size. Today, the bustling two-block area is home to artists’ studios, restaurants, and a wide range of shops.

GOVERNOR JAMES DOUGLAS

James Douglas, known as the father of British Columbia, was born in British Guiana (now called Guyana) in 1803. Working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Douglas established Fort Victoria in 1843 and set about turning it into a center of political power. Sir James Douglas was knighted before he died aged 74.

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