About Victoria, BC

By Concrete Pros Victoria

Victoria, BC, incorporated as a city in 1862, inhabitants 85,792 (2016c), 80,017 (2011c). The capital of British Columbia, the City of Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 100 km south of Vancouver. Occupying a peninsular website, Victoria is bordered by the Juan de Fuca and Haro straits. Additionally, the Olympic Mountains lie to the south, the San Juan Islands to the east, and the fjord-like Saanich Inlet and richly forested Malahat Ridge and Sooke Hills to the west. Greater Victoria lies within the Capital Regional District (CRD), a federation containing the following integrated regions: the cities of Victoria, Colwood and Langford; the cities of Sidney and View Royal; and the municipalities of Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sooke, Metchosin and Highlands. The CRD also includes the electoral Regions of Juan de Fuca, the Southern Gulf Islands and Saltspring Island.

Settlement
Indigenous Peoples

Greater Victoria is situated on the lands of Indigenous peoples who share a Coast Salish language and culture. The Pauquachin, Tseycum, Tsawout and Tsartlip had villages on the Saanich Peninsula; the Scia’new and T’Souke were native to Metchosin and Sooke. The Kosampson (currently called Esquimalt Nation) occupied locations along Esquimalt Harbour and Portage Inlet in View Royal. The Lekwungen (currently called Songhees) inhabited lands in and adjacent to the boundaries of the Town of Victoria. Archaeological evidence confirms at least 4,000 years of human habitation. The Songhees people fished and chosen camas bulbs and cherry bark . A tidal pool on a waterway called The Gorge was correlated with the Songhees legend of a wilful woman named Camossung who had been turned to stone from Haylas, the mysterious transformer. A promontory on Victoria Harbour was a sacred site where cradles for baby children were lucky in pre-contact times.

European Settlement

The website of Victoria was selected for settlement in 1843 by James Douglas, a chief factor in the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in Fort Vancouver (Washington), close to the mouth of the Columbia River. A border settlement between the US and British North America was expected, and in case the 49th parallel was extended to the Pacific, which did happen in 1846, the HBC needed an alternate fur trading headquarters website under development.

The smaller harbour of Camosack (Victoria Harbour) was chosen over that of Esquimalt to the organization of Fort Victoria (named after Queen Victoria) since it was bordered by extensive tracts of level to gently sloping land suitable for agriculture. The HBC was also impressed with the possibility of surging waters on The Gorge and considered it as a possible mill website.

Victoria became a seat of government in 1849 when the colony of Vancouver Island was made. Douglas, having triumphed Richard Blanshard as governor, reasoned 11 treaties with local Indigenous groups between 1850 and 1854 to secure title to property in the area of Victoria. From the terms of the Douglas Treaties, the Crown recognized present village sites and recognized traditional Indigenous hunting and fishing rights; in trade, for money and trade products, Native leaders ceded name of their lands to the Crown. The treaties have featured in a number of land claims disputes in Victoria and neighboring communities.

Development

Victoria remained a small community of less than 1,000 individuals until it burgeoned as the source centre and jumping-off stage for its Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858. It was the trade center for the Cariboo Gold Rush when incorporated as a city in 1862. The spacious Esquimalt Harbour nearby was designated as a naval base by the British Admiralty in 1865 and still plays this role now as Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. Victoria’s political purpose as the capital of this area was constant through different phases: first as the capital of the colony of Vancouver Island; afterward of the amalgamated colony of British Columbia (1866); and eventually of the state of British Columbia (1871).

As the metropolitan center of BC, Victoria was unchallenged until the rise of Vancouver for a city after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in Burrard Inlet at 1886. Though it was a terminus of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (1886), a significant regional lineup, Victoria’s relative economic standing diminished. From the turn of the 20th century, Vancouver had taken over many of their transport, commercial and production functions of Victoria, and the capital city slowly settled into its modern role as a government, naval, retirement and tourist center.

Cityscape

Victoria’s inner harbour, with the Empress Hotel in the foreground (Corel Professional Photos)
The narrow, winding Victoria Harbour and its long expansion, The Gorge, make for a scenic city. In Songhees legend, the massive rock beneath the tidal rapids on The Gorge waterway is the unfortunate Camossung, the woman who turned into stone. The inner harbour is flanked by the impressive provincial legislative buildings completed in 1898 and the Empress Hotel (1908). Recent preparation developments have capitalized on the unique, old-world charm of the area by establishing a broad public walkway along much of the harbourfront. Since 2002, port facilities and conveniences are regulated by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

Empress Hotel

Among the famous chateau-style resorts, designed by Francis Rattenbury (photograph by Thomas Kitchin).
The rehabilitation of Old Town, the late-19th-century business center around Bastion Square, started in the 1980s. Victoria’s Chinatown, the oldest in Canada, was nominated in precisely the exact same time as the Square and is now graced by the colourful and decorative Gate of Harmonious Interest. However, several heritage buildings have been replaced by modern high-rise structures in the city center, as downtown businesses struggle to compete with residential and commercial developments in neighbouring Saanich, Langford and Colwood. A result of the suburban expansion is aggravated traffic congestion called the”Colwood crawl” on the approaches to Victoria.

Population

Victoria residents are usually older than those in other Canadian cities. In 2017, 21.1 percent of people living in Victoria’s metropolitan region were aged 65 or older, ranking it sixth among all Canadian metropolitan regions.

The huge majority of people residing in the city of Victoria assert European ethnicity. In accordance with the 2016 census, individuals citing English origins constitute the largest ethnic group, in 38 percent of the populace, followed by Scottish (28.3 percent ) and Irish (22.9 percent ). Visible minorities account for 15.1 percent of city residents, with Chinese, South Asian, Filipino and Black individuals comprising the largest communities in this group. A additional 4.6 percent of Victoria residents are Indigenous.

Economy and Labour Force

The prominence of tourism and government in Victoria’s economy means a high percentage of the labor force being engaged in public administration, private services and retail trade. Victoria’s isolation from major mainland economies has discouraged manufacturing. Some businesses have changed to the mainland in recent years, but others, especially in the research and development of high technology, have moved to the region.

Communications

Victorians get a huge array of radio broadcasts from Vancouver and Seattle.

The only daily newspaper is the Victoria Times-Colonist, but there are also a number of weekly free papers, which enjoy a large readership. Several small publishing houses are located in town. An internationally acclaimed poetry magazine, The Malahat Review, is situated at the University of Victoria.

Transportation
Ferry connections with the mainland have always been of the utmost value to Victorians. The Canadian Pacific Railway steamship service from Vancouver to Victoria was replaced in 1960 by the provincially owned BC Ferries operating from Swartz Bay, north of Victoria, to Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver. BC Ferries, which is based in Victoria, has functioned independently of the provincial authorities since 2003. Other Automobile conveyances would be the Washington State Ferries from Sidney to Anacortes and Black Ball ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. There’s also a passenger-only high-speed catamaran service from Victoria to Seattle.

Air transportation further mitigates geographical isolation of island life through Victoria International Airport, located 22 km north of town, while seaplanes offer regular service from mainland points to Victoria Harbour. As a delivery port, Victoria has declined in value, but as a marine destination, it has grown substantially, with over 100 luxurious cruise ships visiting its Ogden Point pier each year. Local shipyards have expanded to refit these large vessels. The shipyards anticipate substantial work on federal government contracts for new coast guard vessels.

Government and Politics

Administratively, Greater Victoria is among the most fractured metropolitan areas in Canada, having more than a dozen cities, towns and municipalities, each with its own mayor and elected councillors. The question of municipal amalgamation is often raised, but the problem remains in the interview period.

Victoria City Hall

Greater Victoria is covered by three school districts and shielded by a dozen municipal and voluntary fire departments, as well as four unique police departments and lots of RCMP detachments. Local authorities have resisted efforts by the provincial government to amalgamate police services throughout the area, but the City of Victoria Police now looks after Esquimalt. Efforts to combine regional school boards have likewise failed. But functions pertaining to regional parks, water distribution and waste disposal are coordinated from the Capital Regional District (CRD). Since 2006, the CRD has planned to construct a land-based sewage treatment facility to replace Victoria’s present way of pumping screened effluent to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The national and provincial governments have insisted on the centre and provided funds for it. But a proposal by CRD partners to build the plant in Esquimalt in the entrance to Victoria harbour was rejected from the Esquimalt Town Council at 2014.

Cultural Life

Victoria is well endowed with educational and fine arts institutions. The University of Victoria (founded in 1963) climbed from Victoria College (1903), which was initially affiliated with McGill University and afterwards with the University of British Columbia. Other associations include the Victoria Conservatory of Music (1964) and Camosun College (1971). In 1995, the former Royal Roads Military College was restructured as Royal Roads University. Among Canada’s first personal for-profit colleges, University Canada West, operated in town from 2005 to 2011.

The Royal British Columbia Museum and Butchart Gardens, which is located 20 km northwest of town, are top attractions for visitors. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Opera Victoria and Yearly music and dramatic festivals have improved the city’s standing in the arts. Canada’s first artificial ice rink was built in Victoria in 1911 (see Sports Facilities). Since that time, from time to time, the town has supported professional baseball, together with pro and semi-pro baseball and lacrosse. Victoria played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1994 and the annual Royal Victoria Marathon (1979) is one of the greatest competitions in Canada.

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