Here are a couple of the more interesting neighbourhoods around Victoria (from
North to South, to West):
This charming seaside town of 10,000 is the largest community on the Saanich Peninsula. The town is 2 kilometres south of the Washington State Ferries to Anacortes and the San Juan Islands and to the Swartz Bay BC Ferries Terminal to Tsawwassen. The town is home to the Sidney Marine Mammal and Historical Museum. Just 3 kilometres offshore (and accessible by passenger-only ferry) is the Sidney Spit Marine Park. For those looking for a closer-in marine adventure, take the Sidney Harbour shuttle (250-385-1998) which connects downtown Sidney with the Blue Peter Pub in Tsehum Harbour (on Harbour Road) and then continues to Canoe Bay to the north.
More info about Sidney and North Saanich
This 3,000 person village is appropriately, at the foot of Brentwood Bay. There is a 25 minute ferry to Mill Bay, to get you up-Island without having to drive south through Victoria (it runs every hour and 10 minutes until early evening). The oldest part of town, close to the ferry dock, is known as “Moodyville” and has many weather-worn seaside cottages and even an old English pub. On the southern edge of town alongside Tod Inlet is Butchart Gardens.
More info about Brentwood Bay and Central Saanich
Colwood, Langford and Metchosin
These communities are 18 km west of downtown Victoria. This 13,000 resident town is one of BC’s newest municipalities being incorporated in 1985. The town began as one of four large farms established outside Fort Victoria by the Puget’s Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The town is named for the residence of EE Langford, who was the operator of the 243 hectare farm. There is a small Goldstream Regional Museum beside the town’s infocentre.
More info about Colwood
This 9,000 inhabitant village sits on the pretty Sooke Harbour, and lies about 25 kilometres west of Colwood. The town is named after the local Indian tribe T’Soke. This is western Canada’s southernmost harbour, protected from the ocean seas by narrow Whiffin Spit. In 1864, miners were dropped off here to work the gold mines on the Sooke and Leech rivers, about 16 kilometres upstream from the sea. The gold rush lasted a year with $100,000 in gold extracted from the area. Sooke continued to grow as a logging and fishing community, and hosts the All Sooke Day (third Saturday in July) which trumpets its logging heritage. The Sooke harbour is about 5 kilometres long, before the waters widen into the larger Sooke Basin. The harbour is excellent for paddling. Often fishermen sell their catches fresh from their boats.
More info about Sooke
Esquimalt’s name comes from a native Indian expression “Es-whoy-malth” which means a shoaling place. Esquimalt is the home of Canada’s navy on the West Coast. The natural harbour was used by ships of the Royal Navy as early as 1837, with the Naval Base formally authorized on June 29, 1865. The base was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910. The municipality was incorporated in 1912, and today has 17,000 residents. Esquimalt has several heritage buildings and great beaches with Victoria views.
Fisgard and Herald streets at Government
Chinese immigrants in the mid 1800s not only helped exploit the early gold mines but helped build the toughest stretches of the transcontinental railroad. At the turn of the century, opium production was one of Chinatown’s biggest industries. The area, now known as Fan Tan Alley was the centre of the gambling houses. The entrance to Chinatown is guarded by the 11 metre tall Gate of Harmonious Interest which was built in 1981. The two hand-carved stone lions are from Victoria’s sister city in China, Suchow.
Oak Bay, Saanich
The community of Oak Bay is said to be more English than England. The community has lots of little tea houses, many of which offer “snug tea”, a concoction with ameretto and apricot brandy, which was served during prohibition days. Willows Beach is the recreational centrepiece of the community, and hosts the annual Tea Party each June. North of Willows Beach is Uplands Park and the posh Uplands Estates district, which was once a sheep farm for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
More info about Oak Bay and Saanich
Inner Harbour, James Bay
This is the part of Viotoria that most people consider “Victoria” which lies on the west edge of the harbour, with daily ferries to the USA. This part of Victoria, features tons of old colonial era homes and buildings (and post colonial ones, too), government offices, shopping streets (including Chinatown, above), and of course) lots of pubs. At the southern end is Beacon Hill Park and the Trans-Canada’s “Mile 1” (and great views of Washington State’s Olympia Mountains, as well as Victoria’s Cruise Ship Terminal.
More info about the Inner Harbour