| Lisa Helps
(List of mayors)|
| Royal British Columbia Museum, Butchart Gardens, Craigdarroch Castle, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria Bug Zoo|
University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, St Michaels University School, Pearson College UWC
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canadas Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 80,017, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, has a population of 344,615, making it the 15th most populous Canadian urban region.
Victoria is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from BCs largest city of Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) 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 Coho ferry 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, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897 and home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia) and the Empress hotel (opened in 1908). The citys Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Franciscos. The regions 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. Victoria, like many Vancouver Island communities, continues to have a sizeable First Nations presence, composed of peoples from all over Vancouver Island and beyond.
Known as the "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. Victoria is in the top twenty of world cities for quality-of-life, 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 Perez 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.
Erected in 1843 as a Hudsons Bay Company trading post on a site originally called Camosun (the native word was "camosack", meaning "rush of water") known briefly as "Fort Albert", the settlement was renamed Fort Victoria in 1846, in honour of Queen Victoria. 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 Chief Factor of the fort, 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.
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 literally within a few days. Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862. In 1865, Esquimalt was made the North Pacific home of the Royal Navy, and remains Canadas west 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.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the Port of Victoria became one of North Americas 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, Victorias 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 provinces 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.
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 citys character. Victoria was the home of Sir Arthur Currie. He had been a high school teacher and real estate agent prior to the war, and before the end of the war he would command the Canadian Corps. 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 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. The opponents of amalgamation state that separate governance affords residents a greater deal of local autonomy. 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.
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. Victorias 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 took over.
The citys chief industries are technology, food products, tourism, education, federal and provincial government administration and services. 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.
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 Victorias 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 Symphonys evening concert, with Tchaikovskys 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 Philharmonic Choir, Canadian Pacific Ballet and Ballet Victoria stage two or three productions each year at the Macpherson or Royal Theatres. The Electronic Music Festival takes place in Centennial Square during the same time period for the BC Day holiday; DJs from various places show off their music skills.
The annual multi-day Rifflandia Music Festival is one of Canadas largest modern, rock and pop music festivals.
The Bastion Theatre, a professional dramatic company, functioned in Victoria through the 1970s and 80s 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 Belfrys mandate is to produce contemporary plays with an emphasis on new Canadian plays.
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 islands 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, TV shows, 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 shows 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, 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 Munros 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 Froeses 2005 novel Touch is set in Victoria.
Beacon Hill Park is the central citys main urban green space. Its area of 75 hectares (190 acres) adjacent to Victorias 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. Each summer, the City of Victoria presents dozens of concerts at the Cameron Band Shell in Beacon Hill Park.
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, Market Square and the Pacific Undersea Gardens, which showcases marine life of British Columbia. 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.