The City of Victoria
Clockwise from top left: The Inner Victoria Harbour, Statue of Queen Victoria, the Fisgard Lighthouse, Neo-Baroque architecture of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, The British Columbia Parliament Buildings, The Empress Hotel, and The Christ Church Cathedral.
Clockwise from top left: The Inner Victoria Harbour, Statue of Queen Victoria, the Fisgard Lighthouse, Neo-Baroque architecture of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, The British Columbia Parliament Buildings, The Empress Hotel, and The Christ Church Cathedral.
Official logo of Victoria
"Forever free"
Victoria is located in Canada
Location of Victoria in Canada
Victoria is located in British Columbia
Victoria (British Columbia)
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 DistrictCapital
Historic colonies C. of Vancouver Island (1848-66)
C. of British Columbia (1866–71)
Incorporated2 August 1862[3]
 • TypeElected city council
 • MayorLisa Helps
(List of mayors)
 • Governing bodyVictoria City Council
 • MPMurray Rankin (NDP)
 • MLAsCarole James (BC NDP), Rob Fleming (BC NDP), Maurine Karagianis (BC NDP)
 • City19.47 km2 (7.52 sq mi)
 • Metro
696.15 km2 (268.79 sq mi)
23 m (75 ft)
 • City85,792 (66th)
 • Density4,405.8/km2 (11,411/sq mi)
 • Metro
367,770 (15th)
 • Metro density528.3/km2 (1,368/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
Postal code span
V0S, V8N-V8Z, V9A-V9E
Area code(s)250, 778, and 236
NTS Map092B06

Victoria /vɪkˈtɔːriə/ is the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 85,792, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, has a population of 367,770, making it the 15th most populous Canadian urban region.[6] The city of Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than Toronto.[7]

Victoria is the southernmost major city in Western Canada, and is located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from BC's largest city of Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 100 km (60 mi) from Seattle by airplane, ferry, or the Victoria Clipper passenger-only ferry which operates daily, year round between Seattle and Victoria and 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Port Angeles, Washington, by ferry Coho across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, Legislative 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.

Known as "The Garden City", Victoria is an attractive city and a popular tourism destination with a thriving technology sector that has risen to be its largest revenue-generating private industry.[8] Victoria is in the top twenty of world cities for quality-of-life,[9] according to Numbeo. The city has a large non-local student population, who come to attend the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, the Victoria College of Art, the Sooke Schools International Programme and the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Victoria is very popular with boaters with its beautiful and rugged shorelines and beaches. 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 European navigators 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, beginning with the visits of Juan Pérez in 1774 and of 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 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.[citation needed]

Downtown Victoria's Skyline at twilight in November 2009.

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 November 1843, in honour of Queen Victoria.[10][11] 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 superintendent of the fort, Chief Factor 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 totem pole. Built by Chief Mungo Martin in 1953. Located at Thunderbird Park in Victoria, British Columbia, in the background is the Royal BC Museum.[12]

When news of the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland reached San Francisco 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 within a few days. Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862.[13] In 1865, Esquimalt was made the North Pacific home of the Royal Navy, and remains Canada's Pacific 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.

Victoria, British Columbia, 1864. Watercolour by Edward M. Richardson (1839-1874).

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, 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.

Victoria in the Great War 1914-1918


A real-estate and development boom ended just before World War I, leaving Victoria with a large stock of Edwardian public, commercial and residential buildings that have greatly contributed to the city's character. With the economic crash and a surplus of single men, Victoria became a target-rich environment for recruiting. Two militia infantry battalions, the 88th Victoria Fusiliers and the 50th Gordon Highlanders, formed in the immediate pre-war period. Victoria was the home of Sir Arthur Currie. He had been a high-school teacher and real-estate agent prior to the war and was the Commanding Officer of the Gordon Highlanders in the summer of 1914. Before the end of the war he would command the Canadian Corps.[15] 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 1945

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.[16] The opponents of amalgamation state that separate governance affords residents a greater deal of local autonomy.[citation needed] 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]

Inner Harbour with Empress Hotel on left, 2014



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.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada[17]
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Victoria has a mild warm summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb)[18] with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry and sunny summers.[19] Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it in the Oceanic zone (Do).[20]

At the Victoria Gonzales weather station, daily temperatures rise above 30 °C (86 °F) on average less than one day per year and fall below 0 °C (32 °F) on average only ten nights per year. Victoria has recorded completely freeze-free winter seasons four times (in 1925/26, 1939/40, 1999/2000, and 2002/03). 1999 is the only calendar year on record without a single occurrence of frost. During this time the city went 718 days without freezing, starting on 23 December 1998 and ending 10 December 2000. The second longest frost-free period was a 686-day stretch covering 1925 and 1926, marking the first and last time the city has gone the entire season without dropping below 1 °C (34 °F).[21]

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 also relatively 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. The highest temperature ever recorded at Victoria Gonzales was 36.0 °C (96.8 °F) on 11 July 2007,[22] however the University of Victoria reached 37.6 °C (99.7 °F) on 29 July 2009.[23] The coldest temperature on record is −18.9 °C (−2 °F) on 31 January 1893.[24] The average annual temperature varies from a high of 11.4 °C (52.5 °F) that was set in 2004 to a low of 8.6 °C (47.5 °F) set in 1916.[21]

Due to the rain shadow effect of the nearby Olympic Mountains, Victoria is the driest location on the British Columbia coast and one of the driest in the region. Average precipitation amounts in the Greater Victoria area range from 608 mm (23.9 in) at the Gonzales observatory in the City of Victoria to 1,124 mm (44.3 in) in nearby Langford.[25] The Victoria Airport, 25 km (16 mi) north of the city, receives about 45% more precipitation than the city proper. Regional average precipitation amounts range from as low as 406 mm (16.0 in) on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula[26] to 3,505 mm (138.0 in) in Port Renfrew located just 80 km (50 mi) away on the more exposed southwest coast of Vancouver Island. Vancouver measures 1,589 mm (63 in) annually and Seattle is at 952 mm (37.5 in).

One feature of Victoria's climate is that it has 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 or 4.3 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm or 0.55 in). Victoria experiences the driest summers in Canada (outside of the extreme northern reaches of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut).[27]

Victoria averages just 26 cm (10.2 in) of snow annually, about half that of Vancouver. Roughly one third of winters 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 two or three days per year with at least 5 cm (1.97 in) of snow on the ground. Every few decades Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the record breaking 100 cm (39.4 in) of snow that fell in December 1996. That amount places Victoria 3rd for biggest snowfall among major cities in Canada.

With 2,193 hours of bright sunshine annually during the last available measurement period, Victoria was the second sunniest city in British Columbia after Cranbrook. In July 2013, Victoria received 432.8 hours of bright sunshine, which is the most sunshine ever recorded in any month in British Columbia history.[28]

Climate data for Victoria (Gonzales), 1971–2000 normals, extremes 1872–present[a]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 13.8 16.0 18.3 22.4 29.1 33.8 36.1 35.0 32.3 24.7 19.7 15.1 36.1
Record high °C (°F) 17.1
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 3.0
Record low °C (°F) −18.9
Record low wind chill −22.1 −18.6 −13.6 −4.6 −1.8 3.1 4.3 6.5 1.0 −9.1 −20.8 −27.0 −27.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 94.3
Average rainfall mm (inches) 85.2
Average snowfall cm (inches) 9.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm (0.008 in)) 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
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm (0.008 in)) 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
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm (0.08 in)) 2.6 1.7 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.8 1.9 7.8
Mean monthly 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
Percent possible sunshine 27.1 32.6 40.6 49.2 56.6 56.9 67.5 66.9 53.9 45.6 29.9 26.4 46.1
Source: Environment Canada[29][30][31][22][24]
Climate data for University of Victoria, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1992–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.2
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 8.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.1
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 3.6
Record low °C (°F) −7.5
Source: Environment Canada[32][23][33]
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) are 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 southern California and parts of Mexico.

Non-native plants grown in Victoria include the cold-hardy palm Trachycarpus fortunei, which can be found in gardens and public areas of Victoria. One of these Trachycarpus palms stands in front of City Hall.[34]


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.[35] For a list of neighbourhoods in other area municipalities, see Greater Victoria, or the individual entries for those municipalities.

Informal neighbourhoods include:



Historical populations

The population of Victoria was 80,017 in 2011. The Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, comprising thirteen municipalities informally referred to as Greater Victoria, has a population of 344,615 and is the largest urban area on Vancouver Island.[37] 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.[38] 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".[39]

Ethnic origins

Note: These categories are those used by Statistics Canada.

Visible minorities and aboriginal population

Canada 2011 Census Population % of Total Population
Visible minority group
[citation needed]
South Asian 1,160 1.5%
Chinese 2,895 3.8%
Black 850 1.1%
Filipino 1,155 1.5%
Latin American 505 0.7%
Arab 340 0.4%
Southeast Asian 460 0.6%
West Asian 290 0.4%
Korean 355 0.5%
Japanese 470 0.6%
Other visible minority 90 0.1%
Mixed visible minority 415 0.5%
Total visible minority population 8,985 11.8%
Aboriginal group
[citation needed]
First Nations 3,325 4.4%
Métis 1,205 1.6%
Inuit 100 0.1%
Total Aboriginal population 4,490 5.9%
White 62,550 82.3%
Total population 76,025 100%


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.

Technology industry

Advanced technology is Victoria's largest revenue producing private industry with $3.15 billion in annual revenues generated by more than 880 tech companies that have over 15,000 direct employees.[45] The annual economic impact of the sector is estimated at more than $4.03 billion per year.[45] 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.[46]

Tourism industry

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens
The Empress Hotel

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.[47] As well, an additional 500,000 daytime visitors arrive via cruise ships which dock at Ogden Point near the city's Inner Harbour. Many whale watching tour companies operate from this harbour due to the whales often present near its coast. 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 held at the Hotel Grand Pacific. 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 a 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.[48] This was the first homeless count in the city. 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.[49] In early 2008, an anti-homelessness programme based on a successful Italian programme was introduced to Victoria.[50] As of February 2013, no residents live there yet.[51]

Despite Victoria's reputation as a tourist destination, pervasive homelessness and panhandling are serious problems in the downtown area, as is "open-air" drug use.[52][53][54][55][56]

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.[48]


Bay Centre

Main article: Bay Centre

Hillside Shopping Centre

Main article: Hillside Shopping Centre

Mayfair Shopping Centre

Victoria, British Columbia
LocationVictoria, British Columbia, Canada
Opening date16 October 1963[57]
ManagementIvanhoe Cambridge[58]
OwnerMayfair Shopping Centre Limited Partnership
No. of stores and services117[59]
No. of anchor tenants2 Hudson's Bay, Toys "R" Us
Total retail floor area42,197.8 m2 (454,213 sq ft)[59]
No. of floors1
WebsiteMayfair Shopping Centre

Mayfair Shopping Centre is a mall located in Victoria, British Columbia. Mayfair, one of the first major shopping centres in Victoria, first opened as an outdoor strip mall on 16 October 1963 with 27 stores.[57][61] It was built on the site of a former brickyard in the Maywood district, a then-semi-rural area in the northern part of Victoria.[61][62] Woodward's was Mayfair's original department store anchor upon the mall's opening.[61][63]

Mayfair was enclosed and renovated into an indoor mall in 1974.[64][65] The mall underwent three later expansions in 1984 (with the addition of Consumers Distributing), 1985 (expansion of the mall food court) and a major expansion in 1990 that saw the addition of more retail space.[64] The Bay (now Hudson's Bay) replaced Woodward's as Mayfair's department store anchor in 1993 following Hudson's Bay Company's acquisition of the Woodward's chain.[66]

Mayfair now offers 117 stores and services including Hudson's Bay and Toys "R" Us.[59] It has 454,213 square feet (42,197.8 m2) of retail space and it also provides customers with rooftop parking.[59]


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 Operatic Society, Victoria Philharmonic Choir, Canadian Pacific Ballet and Ballet Victoria stage two or three productions each year at the Macpherson or Royal Theatres.

The annual multi-day Rifflandia Music Festival is one of Canada's largest modern, rock and pop music festivals.

The Bastion Theatre, a professional dramatic company, functioned in Victoria through the 1970s and 1980s 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 is the home of the Victoria Royals Western Hockey League (WHL) team that replaced the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL).

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, The New Colors, Wolf Parade, The Racoons, Dayglo Abortions 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, television series, 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 series 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, and athlete Duncan Regehr of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was raised in the region.

Nobel laureate Alice Munro lived in Victoria during the years when she published her first story collections and co-founded Munro's Books. Victoria resident Stanley Evans has written a series of mysteries featuring a Coast Salish character, Silas Seaweed, who works as an investigator with the Victoria Police Department. Other Victoria writers include Kit Pearson, Esi Edugyan, Robert Wiersema, W. D. Valgardson, Elizabeth Louisa Moresby, Madeline Sonik, Jack Hodgins, Dave Duncan, Bill Gaston, David Gurr, Ken Steacy, Sheryl McFarlane, Carol Shields and Patrick Lane. Gayleen Froese's 2005 novel Touch is set in Victoria.


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 (190 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 Mountains in Washington across it. The sport of cricket has been played in Beacon Hill Park since the mid-19th century.[67] Each summer, the City of Victoria presents dozens of concerts at the Cameron Band Shell in Beacon Hill Park. [68]

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 Parliament 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, Victoria Bug Zoo, and Market Square. 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 Congregation Emanu-El, 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;[69] the 1890 Metropolitan Methodist Church (now the Victoria Conservatory of Music), [70] 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.

Attractions outside the City of Victoria

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. [2]

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.[71] 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 640-metre (410 mi) oval vehicular race track and the largest in Western Canada.



Victoria has been home to many accomplished athletes in its history. Notable professional athletes include Steve Nash, twice Most Valuable Player in the National Basketball Association, who grew up in Victoria and played youth basketball at St. Michael's University School and Mount Douglas Secondary School. Furthermore, there are several current NHL hockey players from Greater Victoria, including brothers Jamie Benn and Jordie Benn of the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, respectively; Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, and Matt Irwin of the Nashville Predators. Michael Saunders, current outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies was born in Victoria and still lives there during the off season also Nick Pivetta was born in Victoria and is currently a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies organization who debuted this year as of 2017. Professional racing cyclist and 2012 Giro d'Italia winner, Ryder Hesjedal was born in Victoria and still calls the city home. Victoria has also been home to numerous Olympic Games athletes, including, but not limited to, multi-time medalists such as Silken Laumann, Ryan Cochrane, and Simon Whitfield.


Victoria has also been a destination for numerous high-profile international sporting events. It hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games and the 2005 Ford World Men's Curling Championship. The 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup was co-hosted by Victoria along with five other Canadian cities; (Burnaby, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal). 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.

Team history

The city has also been home to numerous high-profile sports teams in its history. 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. Today a Junior 'B' team of that name plays in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. From 1971 until 1994 there was also a team called the Victoria Cougars in the Western Hockey League, before they moved to Prince George to become the Prince George Cougars. The Victoria Salmon Kings played in the ECHL from 2004 to 2011, and were a minor league affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. In baseball, Victoria was also once home of the Victoria Athletics of the Western International League, a Class 'A' minor league baseball affiliate of the New York Yankees.

National headquarters

The Greater Victoria area also serves as a headquarters for Rugby Canada, based out of Westhills Stadium in Langford, as well as a headquarters for Rowing Canada, based out of Victoria City Rowing Club at Elk Lake in Saanich.


Aside from field or arena sports, Greater Victoria also has a rich motorsports history, and is home to a 4/10ths mile oval race track called Western Speedway. Opened in 1954, Western Speedway is the oldest speedway in western Canada, and features stock car racing, drag racing, demolition derbies and other events. Western Speedway is also home to the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall of Fame

The Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame is located at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, and features numerous displays and information on the sporting history of the city.

Notable current teams

Club Sport League Venue
Victoria Royals Ice hockey Western Hockey League Save on Foods Memorial Centre
Victoria HarbourCats Baseball West Coast League Royal Athletic Park
UVic Vikes Various Canadian Interuniversity Sport Various
Camosun Chargers Various Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Various
Victoria Shamrocks Box lacrosse Western Lacrosse Association The Q Centre
Victoria Grizzlies Ice hockey British Columbia Hockey League The Q Centre
Westshore Rebels Canadian football Canadian Junior Football League Westhills Stadium
Victoria Highlanders Soccer Premier Development League Royal Athletic Park
Eves of Destruction Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association Various

Notable defunct teams


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

Victoria is also known as the Cycling Capital of Canada,[72] 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,[73] and Victoria is quickly becoming a bike tourism destination.[74]

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.[75]


The Jordan River Diversion Dam is Vancouver Island's main hydroelectric power station. It was built in 1911.[76]

The city's water is supplied by the Capital Regional District's Water Services Department from its Sooke Lake Reservoir. The lake is connected to a treatment plant at Japan Gulch by the 8.8 km (5.5 mi) Kapoor Tunnel. The lake water is very soft and requires no filtering. It is treated with chlorine, ammonia and ultraviolet light to control micro-organisms. [77] Until the tunnel was completed in 1967, water flowed from the lake through the circuitous, leaky and much smaller 44 km (27 mi) Sooke Flowline.

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.[78] The site has won international environmental awards.[79] The CRD conducts public tours of the facility. It is predicted to be full by 2045.

Victoria discharges 81.7 megalitres (2,890,000 cubic feet)[80] per day of screened wastewater that has undergone preliminary treatment into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The wastewater treatment facilities at Clover Pt. and Macaulay Pt. serve seven municipalities composing the core area of the CRD. At these two facilities, wastewater is screened to exclude objects larger than 6 mm (0.24 in) then pumped through diffusers at the end of deep marine outfalls.[81] The CRD is currently planning an upgrade of its wastewater treatment infrastructure.

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.[81]



BC Transit

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, day passes purchased from the driver or tickets purchased from a store. As of April 1, 2016 bus drivers do not provide transfers as proof of payment as they were a source of disagreement and delay on the bus due to improper transfer use and disagreements over expired transfers or transfers used for return trips.[82] Instead a day pass was added that can be purchased from the bus driver for $5 or two bus tickets (purchased from a retailer) for the equivalent of $4.50.[82] To improve bus reliability and reduce delays a bike and bus priority lane was opened in 2014 during peak traffic periods with fines for motorists operating in the bus/bike lane who are not turning in the same block.[83] The dedicated bike and bus lane on Douglas street is being expanded from Downtown to near Uptown and may be changed to be restricted to only buses and bikes 24/7 rather than just during peak traffic periods depending on direction of travel.[84] Most buses operating in the Greater Victoria area have a bike rack installed at the front of the bus that can accommodate two bicycles.[85]

BC Ferries Connector Coach

Coach bus service between downtown Victoria and downtown Vancouver or the Vancouver International Airport that includes the ferry fare is called the BC Ferries Connector run by Wilson's Transportation Limited. The coach bus travels on the ferry to Vancouver with separate trips for the bus to downtown and a bus to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Average travel time between the two cities is under 4 hours with an hour and half of that time spent on the ferry crossing.

Up Island Coaches

Bus service from Victoria to points up island is run by Island Link Bus or Tofino Bus. Both bus services depart from the Victoria bus terminal located at 700 Douglas Street, behind the Fairmont Empress Hotel and offer trips to destinations further up island and the west coast of the island.


Passenger rail service previously operated by Via Rail provided a single daily return trip along between Victoria – Courtenay, along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, to the cities of Nanaimo, Courtenay, and points between. The service was discontinued along this line indefinitely on 19 March 2011, due to needed track replacement work.[86][87] Prior to further inspection of the track, service along the segment between Nanaimo and Victoria was originally planned to resume on 8 April, but lack of funding has prevented any of the work from taking place and it is unclear when or if the service will resume.


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.

Direct flights between Victoria and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland, Silicon Valley) began service on 5 June 2008.[88] 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 Bombardier CRJ-200 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 9 September 2008 (Victoria Times Colonist, 29 May 2008).

Victoria is also home to the world's largest all-seaplane airline, Harbour Air.[89] Harbour air offers flights during daylight hours at least every 30 minutes between Victoria's inner harbour and Vancouver's downtown terminal or YVR south terminal. Harbour Air also operate scenic tour flights over the Victoria harbour and gulf islands area.[90]

Personal Vehicles

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 little 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 unlikely to use the terms "north", "south", "east", or "west" when giving directions.

The compact size of the city lends itself readily to smaller, fuel efficient alternatives to full size passenger cars, such as scooters, as areas with significantly 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 m (9 ft 10 in) 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 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 entering the downtown core in the morning and departing at evening rush hour.

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 sign to mark the spot and a statue to honour Terry Fox.

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 suburban/rural western communities of Langford, Colwood, Sooke and Metchosin.


Due to Victoria's mild year round weather with mostly rainy winters, commuting by bicycle is practical year-round as compared to other Canadian cities. For this reason, the Greater Victoria area had the highest rate of bicycle commuting to work of any census metropolitan region in Canada in the 2011 census.[91] Greater Victoria also has an expanding system designed to facilitate bicycles and electrically assisted bicycles via bike lanes on many roads as well as separated multi-use paths for bicycles and pedestrians known as the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, Lochside Regional Trail and the E&N rail trail. These multi-use trails are designed exclusively for foot traffic and cyclists and pass through many communities in the Greater Victoria area, beginning at the downtown core and extending into areas such as Langford and Central and North Saanich.

Bike to Work Week Victoria[92][93][94] is a bi-annual event held in communities throughout greater Victoria, British Columbia. It is organized by the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society with a Spring bike to work week scheduled in late May every year and a Fall bike to work week scheduled in October. The purpose of the event is to encourage bicycle commuting. Bike to Work Week began in 1995 in Victoria and has expanded to include other communities in BC through their local bicycle advocacy groups all supported by the Bike to Work BC Society. In 2008, the Bike to Work BC Society was formed as a legal entity to run the event in other communities around BC. Since its inception ridership in the yearly event has steadily increased, and in 2011 over 7000 people participated in Greater Victoria. Bike to Work Week is first a marketing initiative and secondarily a cycling event that aims to attract new daily riders to commuting by bicycle. The behaviour change (public health) model, relying on research conducted by both the provincial and federal governments that identified barriers to cycling and reasons for choosing cycling, was applied as a way to accomplish the goal of recruiting employees to bicycle to work.[95]

Victoria is building a protected bike lane network with the first lane to open in Spring 2017 on Pandora Avenue, between Store Street and Cook Street in the downtown core.[96] The final protected lane will make for an easy cycling connection for commuters across the soon to be constructed, new Johnson Street bridge, to the Gallopping Goose trail and E&N rail trail when connected fully.


Victoria is served by several ferries with the Lower Mainland, Gulf Islands and the United States. BC Ferries provides service between Swartz Bay, up the Saanich peninsula from Victoria, to Tsawwassen on the Lower Mainland for cars, bus, trucks, pedestrians and cyclists. The Coho ferry operates as a car and pedestrian/cyclist ferry between the inner harbour of Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington.The Victoria Clipper is a passenger-only (no vehicles) ferry which operates daily, year-round between downtown Seattle and the inner harbour of Victoria. The Washington State Ferries runs a ferry for cars, pedestrians and cyclists between Friday Harbour, Orcas Island and Anacortes in Washington State from the port at Sidney, up the Saanich peninsula from Victoria.[97]


Royal Roads University (Hatley Park National Historic Site)

The city of Victoria lies entirely within the Greater Victoria School District. There is one public 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 programmes in English. The educational needs of the Francophone community in Victoria are served by École 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 and Christ Church Cathedral School. The senior campus of Glenlyon-Norfolk School is located in the Oak Bay neighbourhood.

The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, operates one Francophone school in the Victoria area: école Victor-Brodeur in Esquimalt. It is a M-12 primary and secondary school.[98]

Victoria is served by three public post secondary educational institutions located outside the city in the Greater Victoria area: University of Victoria (UVic), Camosun College, and Royal Roads University (RRU). The University of Victoria is located on the Saanich, Oak Bay border. Camosun College has two campuses, both of which are located in Saanich. Royal Roads University is located in Colwood.

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 College is a private career training institution that has had a campus in Victoria since 1913.


Main article: Media in Victoria, British Columbia

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 700 block of Kings Road. 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, City and Global affiliates. The two television stations based in Victoria are CHEK-DT (an independent station) and CIVI-DT (a CTV Two affiliate).

Notable people

Sister cities

Street sign of sister cities in Victoria, Canada

Victoria has four Sister Cities:[101]

See also


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  44. ^ "n.o.s." means "not otherwise specified"
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  1. ^ Climate data for Victoria was recorded in nearby Esquimalt from January 1872 to July 1898, and at Gonzales Heights from August 1898 to present.

48°25′19″N 123°21′54″W / 48.422°N 123.365°W / 48.422; -123.365 (Victoria)