Victoria, B.C., August 2004
Victoria, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is an easy trip from Seattle. We took the fast catamaran ferry, which gets you there in about three hours. It's quite touristy (a cruise ship destination), yet retains enough older architecture and neighborhoods to be quite charming.
It is the oldest city in Western Canada, founded in 1843 as a Hudson Bay Company trading station and fort, and named after Queen Victoria. It first grew, like many other West Coast cities, as a supply center for the local gold rush. Victoria was the colonial capital and then became the provincial capital of British Columbia. It is now eclipsed in size and economic importance by Vancouver itself, on the mainland.
Victoria claims to have the mildest weather in Canada, and is now a favored destination for retirees and tourists. The gentility of the city itself makes an interesting contrast to the rest of Vancouver Island, which is much wilder and more sparsely populated.