In anticipation of an upcoming visit to Victoria, the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, we completed a little background research.

Images of Victoria, British Columbia by shaundsg via wikipedia

Images of Victoria, British Columbia by shaundsg via wikipedia. 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.

16 Fun Facts about Victoria, British Columbia

1. Victoria lies on the southern tip of Vancouver Island while the city of Vancouver is located 76 miles northeast on the mainland. Traveling between the two cities takes about 4 hours via a combination of a car or bus ride combined with a ferry ride.

2. The city of Victoria is home to about 86,000 residents, while the Greater Victoria metropolitan area of has a population of 383,360.

3. Named for Queen Victoria, the city began as a Hudson’s Bay trading post in 1843.

View of Victoria from James Bay in 1862

View of Victoria from James Bay in 1862.

4. Victoria became a British crown colony in 1849, but remained a small town of less than 300 people until 1858, when news of the gold discovery in British Columbia reached San Francisco. Within days, Victoria became the supply base and port for miners on their way to the Fraser Canyon gold fields, and the city’s population quickly exploded to more than 5,000 people.

The Gate of Harmonious Interest - Victoria, BC, Canada. Photo by MARELBU.

The Gate of Harmonious Interest – Victoria, BC, Canada. Photo by MARELBU.

6. Chinese immigrants came to Victoria during the Gold Rush. Today, Victoria has the second oldest Chinatown in North America – where you can find Fan Tan Alley — the narrowest alleyway in all of Canada.

7. Robert Service, who would later be known as the ‘Bard of The Yukon’ for famous poems like The Cremation of Sam McGee, first settled in Victoria in 1906 as a banker. Today, the bank were Service worked is a popular restaurant called Bard & Banker.

8. In 1908 the Canadian Pacific Railway built the iconic 477-room Fairmont Empress Hotel on Victoria’s Inner Harbor.

Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia9. Queen Elizabeth II is just one of famous guests who have stayed at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Even if you don’t stay overnight, you can enjoy afternoon tea like a royal. The hotel serves more half a million cups of tea each year.

10. Also near Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbor you will find the Royal BC Museum (founded in 1886) as well as the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

British Columbia Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BCDaytime visitors to the Parliament Buildings can join a regularly-scheduled guided tour or take a self-guided tour.  Once the sun sets, 3,560 lights illuminate the Parliament Buildings.

11. Although it’s located on an island, Victoria is the western terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway. The “Mile 0” marker stands at the intersection of Douglas Street and Dallas Road in Victoria. The Trans-Canada Highway runs northward for 62 miles on the east coast of Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, where traffic has to catch the Departure Bay ferry to Vancouver.

12. Victoria’s climate – the mildest in Canada — offers nearly perfect growing conditions for the city’s 55 acres of gardens.

Butchart Gardens, photo by w4nn3s

Butchart Gardens, photo by w4nn3s

13. Starting in 1904, Jennie Butchart envisioned a grandiose garden in place of a former quarry for her backyard. Today, more than a million people visit the famed Butchart Gardens located 25 minutes from downtown Victoria.

14. Author and Nobel laureate Alice Munro lived in Victoria during the years when she published her first story collection.

Munro's Books in Victoria, BCYou can visit her bookstore — Munro’s Books – at 1108 Government Street in downtown Victoria.

15. Victoria is used as a filming location for films and television series. Scary Movie, Bird on a Wire and the television series Smallville — which is supposed to be set in a Kansas town — were all filmed in Victoria.

cruise ships in Victoria, BC16. Victoria is a major tourism destination with over 3.5 million overnight visitors each year. Another 500,000 visitors arrive via via cruise ships which dock at Ogden Point near the city’s Inner Harbor.

What fun fact can you add about Victoria?

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Are you planning a visit to Victoria? Check out these resources:
Moon Victoria & Vancouver Island (Travel Guide)

Victoria and Vancouver Island: A Personal Tour Of An Almost Perfect Eden

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