Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Victoria, BC - Island Capital

Victoria sits at the southern end of Vancouver Island off the coast of the Lower Mainland, in southern British Columbia. There's a 'United Kingdom' feel to this city with an Irish pub, British woolens and tartans, and bagpipes playing at the Inner Harbour.  We'll start with the ivy-decorated building below, The Empress.



The Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC by DG Hudson

The Empress Hotel, named after Queen Victoria, opened in 1908. It's one of several buildings facing the Inner Harbour.  In this Edwardian hotel, originally built as the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Steamship line, you can have afternoon tea in a plush setting, Victorian style, but be warned it's a bit pricey. Check the website for costs and reservations. The service was great when we there. It's an old 'railway' hotel, now managed by Fairmont. Emily Carr's childhood home was situated not far from the Empress Hotel. Many famous people have visited this hotel in the past, including kings, queens, movie stars, and more. The architect who designed it is said to haunt the hotel on occasion. Hubs and I spent our honeymoon here, but saw no ghosts.

The Empress is a National Historic Site of Canada. It's one of the more famous of the railway hotels managed by Fairmont, which includes Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada. Author Rudyard Kipling was a frequent visitor to Victoria and the Empress. One of the on-site restaurants was named after him, but Kipling's has since closed and been replaced by a seasonal restaurant.

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Between the Empress and the Legislative buildings is the Royal British Columbia Museum. The 'royal' in the title was approved by Queen Elizabeth II and bestowed in 1987 by HRH Prince Phillip, during their royal tour that year. In 2003, the museum merged with the BC Provincial Archives.

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Royal BC Museum, Victoria, from Wikipedia

The Royal BC Museum, which opened October 25, 1886, includes three permanent galleries: modern history, natural history and local First Nations' history.  The museum's collections comprise approximately 7 million objects, including artifacts, natural history specimens, and archival records.

The reason for founding the Royal BC Museum in 1886 was to respond to a petition from prominent citizens who were concerned about the loss of British Columbian artifacts to European and American museums. This museum also has a life-size town display of an old hotel from Victorian times. You can smell the cinnamon and apple pie in the simulated kitchen. The First Nations art is outstanding in its breadth and scope, in this walk-through exhibit of carvings and ancestral lodges. Highly recommended.

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The British Columbia Parliament Buildings


BC's Parliament Buildings, Victoria, by DG Hudson

Across the street from the Royal British Columbia Museum, sits the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, which contains the Legislative Assembly of the Provincial Government. There's an interesting history about these buildings which replaced the 'Birdcages' of the original design which burned down. In the evenings, the Parliament Buildings are outlined by a multitude of lights, in the style of Paris illuminations.


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The Inner Harbour in Victoria is a gathering place. Here you can see street buskers, bagpipe players, and lots of locals and visitors, during good weather and summer evenings. There are several small bistro type cafes, pubs, and a few full-service restaurants when you need a break. Most of the downtown sites are clustered within this area so you can walk to them. Other sites are the Buschart Gardens, Fort Rodd Hill, and Craigdarroch Castle. For more information, check our tourism site.



Victoria's Inner Harbour, on Vancouver Island by DG Hudson


Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The region's Coast Salish First Nations peoples established communities in the area long before non-native (or European) settlement. The First Nations people still maintain a healthy presence on Vancouver Island. Thunderbird Park is another site where you can view native art and totems.


BC Ferries is one of the ways of getting to Vancouver Island and Victoria. If you drive, be sure to check the schedules and the prices. This ferry leaves from either Horseshoe Bay, North Vancouver or Tsawwassen, in Delta, one of the Vancouver suburbs. Ferries carry vehicles and foot passengers. There are short flights which will carry you to the island as well.



BC Ferries to Victoria by DG Hudson

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Hope you've enjoyed this brief visual tour of Victoria. If you're traveling to the Pacific Northwest in my area (Canada), you might want to include this beautiful city with its multitude of flowering baskets, as part of your visit. It's one of my favorite places, but only one of the interesting places on the island. More to come on Vancouver Island in a future post.

Have you ever visited Victoria, BC? How about Vancouver Island? Do you like historical sites and/or beautiful cities? I'd love to hear your comments or questions, and let me know if you've been to this city before. Thanks for stopping by and hope you'll visit again.


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References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria,_British_Columbia Victoria on Vancouver Island.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Empress_(hotel) The Empress Hotel

http://coffeetea.about.com/od/historyculture/a/High-Tea-Vs-Afternoon-Tea.htm High Tea vs Afternoon Tea

http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/ The Royal British Columbia Museum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_British_Columbia_Museum Museum wiki

15 comments:

  1. The Empress Hotel is a beautiful building. I'm glad you didn't encounter any ghosts there!

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    1. Me too, Sherry. Although I'm not afraid of ghosts, it's those vampires and undead that give me the creeps.

      Even though tea in this hotel is pricey, it was worth it, some dress up and others are casual. It was loverly.

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  2. Well, you know I loved this post! I was there once before when I was twelve years old. I remember it being very English in feel. Lots of tea and photos of the queen. :)

    Can't wait to go back. Will definitely be checking out Butchert Gardens and the Royal BC Museum. Sadly, I only have a couple of hours in Vancouver between the ferry and the train and won't get to do much sightseeing there. I'll get to see the False Creek area and maybe some of Chinatown though.

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    1. Well, I hope you'll write about your adventures especially if you're taking a train. . .we like trains.

      I thought of you and JoJo, when writing this post, LG. He's been here before too. Chinatown is very close to all those buildings, and with our hills, you'll probably be able to see a good bit of the city skyline at least. There's the Science World globe, and our beautiful mountains. Hope it's a beautiful sunny day when you're here.

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    2. Forgot to mention that there is a Chinatown in Victoria as well. I found it at one of the links below.

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  3. Your post gave me shivers and brought tears to my eyes. I love Victoria so very much and I have blogged about it in depth so many times, esp. after my trips. I don't know if you've ever scrolled to the bottom of my blog page but there's a pic of Parliament that I shot at dusk. I could talk for HOURS about Victoria & the Island. Oh...one teensy typo, it's Craigdarroch Castle. :)

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    1. I'm glad you have good memories of Victoria, JoJo. I'll have to search out some of your posts. I have a photos of the buildings with lights too in the evening, but mine were taken before digital and haven't been scanned. (btw I fixed that typo-thanks)

      I remembered you visited there, JoJo, when you lived on the west coast.

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  4. I live in the PNW, but haven't been there yet. One of these days...

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    1. It's so close, Mary, and there used to be a ferry from Anacortes, Washington. (it could have changed, though).

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  5. You've rekindled my curiosity to go to Victoria. I've been to Vancouver a few times, but never had time to go to Victoria. Someday I hope.

    Lee
    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. I hope you do get to Victoria, Lee. I was there last in 2007 when my sister and BIL came to visit. The Museum is definitely worth seeing.

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  6. I'm Canadian but I've never actually been to the Canadian west coast. (The closest I ever got was San Francisco). I'll have to make it out there someday.

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    1. San Fran is another city I could easily call home. I've never been to Spain, or Morocco. It's on my list of travel spots to see.

      Victoria has some interesting buildings you'd probably like, Sean, and the museum is fantastic.

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  7. Oh I have been reading your blog I jumped over from Ingers blog. I LOVE Victoria I cannot wait to go back. I live in Ontario and your blog is interesting I love the West Coast of our great country. Victoria does indeed have the best architecture. B

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    1. Glad to have you drop by, Buttons. Yes, I hang around Inger's blog a bit. Victoria has a special place in my heart, too.

      Hope you'll drop in again, I write about a variety of things.

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