The city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, was my introduction to Western Canada. And why it took me so long to visit this part of this country, I’ll never know. Even though I was only here for one day with a friend, I loved this city. It just had this vibe that, while it’s still Canadian, it’s also very relaxed and cool. It is almost an island vibe. I did a lot of walking while in Victoria and took a lot of photographs in my one day visit. I decided to split this post into two parts, highlighting 10 things one can do in Victoria in a span of perhaps 10 hours – Part I contains the things I categorized as “historical”.
I love checking out various Chinatowns when I travel. Victoria’s Chinatown isn’t very big or all that exciting, but it is the second oldest in North America. And that alone is what makes it worth a look. Here, you can find the usual collection of restaurants, shops, the tall gates, stone lions, and interesting architecture.
Built in the late 19th century, Victoria’s Parliament buildings and grounds are fairly impressive. There are tours of the interior (apparently free) but since it was a lovely day, we decided to laze on the grounds instead. The large green lawn is a fantastic place to chill, relax, and maybe even grab a snooze in the sun – and we were by no means the only ones doing this. The grounds also contain a totem pole, a statue of Queen Victoria, and a war memorial. Definitely a great place to indulge in some people watching.
Along Government Street, we randomly found an area called the “Birdcage Walk”. Here, we found various historic houses, all of them beautifully maintained. This area was developed in the mid-19th century and has always been a fashionable district. The Emily Carr House is also found along this street (where the iconic Canadian painter grew up in the latter half of the 19th century). One of the highlights for me was finding a “Little Free Library” – it’s a neat concept where someone puts a box of books outside their home for people to “take a book and leave a book” in return. Pretty awesome idea!
The First Peoples and the New
Connections to Victoria’s First Nations past and present are not only evident by its population or its numerous totem poles. Point your eyes to the ground and you may just find ancient burial plots, marked by memorial plaques. It was sheer random chance that I looked at my feet when I did, leading me to spot these two graves alongside a fairly busy street. As for the new people, the colonialists, check out St. Ann’s Schoolhouse. It’s a log cabin built in the middle of the 19th century and is one of the oldest buildings in western Canada.
A little park brimming with many different styles of totem poles from various First Nations so if you’re interested in poles or First Nations cultures, this is definitely a place to check out. We got lucky and there was barely anyone in the park so I was able to photograph totem poles to my heart’s content! FYI – a “thunderbird” is a mythological creature from indigenous North American cultures. Well worth a look!
Victoria sits on the coast so there are tons to do and see in regards to water. Check out part II for the second half of “Ten Things to do in Victoria”!