The Victoria area has over 15 different museums, reflecting its location on the West Coast and its cultural diversity.
[see also: east to Oak Bay | north to Saanich | Langford & Colwood | west to Sooke ]
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
1040 Moss St (off Fort)
This museum, housed in the Spencer Mansion, is famous for its Asian collection, including the only Shinto shrine outside Japan.
1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5
This is the prettiest castle built in Western Canada, and was the gift of coal and railway baron Robert Dunsmuir to his wife in 1890. He was the province’s first millionaire, having discovered rich coal seams and then built the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway. Dunsmuir died before the castle was completed, but his wife lived there until her death in 1908. After her death the house served a variety of functions, including military hospital, college campus, and music conservatory. It is now owned by the City and has been refurbished to be an authentic representation of the time when it was opened, including some incredible stained glass windows. Allow an hour.
1801 Admirals Rr, Victoria, BC V9A 0B2
(Craigflower @ Admirals, in View Royal)
The farmhouse was built for Kenneth McKenzie in the 1850s, who was the bailiff of a 360 hectare farm established by a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which in return for its trading franchise was required to colonize the area. The farm shows “living history” with period costumed interpreters showing the house and farm. The heavy wooden doors with steel hinges show the dual purpose of home and fortress. There is also the Colonial Schoolhouse, the oldest in western Canada, and beautiful views of the Gorge waterway. Open daily 11 am to 5 pm mid-May to mid-October; noon – 4 pm furing the off-season. Admission is $4 for adults, and $10 for a family.
Emily Carr House
207 Government Street
This 1863 house was the residence of famous painter Emily Carr, who painted the west coast landscape and natives. Tours of the home are provided by costumed interpreters. Open daily 10 am to 5 pm mid-may to mid-September; group tours can be scheduled in the off-season. Admission is $4 for adults and $10 per family.
Emily Carr Gallery
1107 Wharf St
Exhibits of paintings by Victoria ‘s best-known painter., who died in 1945. Also shows works by Emily Carr’s contemporaries. Open Victoria Day to Labour Day Tues – Sun, remainder of year, Tues – Sat.
Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum
western end of Esquimalt Rd
This museum showcases much of Esquimalt’s military and naval history, going back to its early days as a base for the Royal Navy in 1865.
10 Eliott Square (behind Thunderbird Park)
This house, the oldest in BC open to the public, was the home of Dr John Sebastian. Helmcken one of Victoria ‘s first medical doctors and the son-in-law for Governor James Douglas. He was one of the country’s Fathers of the Confederation and lived here until his death in 1920, at the age of 95. The house includes his medical and surgical tools, and his medicines to form one of Canada’s finest nineteenth century medical collections. The house has period furnishings and costumed interpreters. Allow an hour. Open daily 11 am to 5 pm mid-may to mid-September; noon – to 4 m in the off-season. Admission is $4 for adults and $10 per family.
Maritime Museum of B.C.
25 Bastion Square
This museum, in the former Provincial Court House, recently declared a national historic site, shows the maritime history of BC from the Haida days to recent times. Exhibits include the 11 metre Tillicum, a wooden dugout canoe which was fitted with sails and sailed to England in 1901-1904. Other exhibits cover the history of Captain Cook’s voyages, the Canadian Pacific Lines’ “Empress” ships, and a Kids Zone with interactive exhibits. Allow an hour. Open 9:30 am to 4:30 pm daily.
Point Ellice House
2616 Pleasant St
This 1861 bungalow was home to three generations of the O’Reilly family on what used to be one of Victoria ‘s nicest neighbourhoods. The house is restored and has an authentic 19th century garden. The home had guests including Sir John A Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister and the Antarctic explorer Scott. While the home is now in largely an industrial neighbourhood, it is worth a visit and “high tea” (phone for reservations). Open 10 am to 5 pm mid-May to Labour Day, and closed in the off-season. Admission is $4 for adults.
Royal British Columbia Museum
675 Belleville St
Discover the Royal British Columbia Museum and its award-winning First Peoples, Natural History and Modern History Galleries. Sit among aboriginal ceremonial poles and masks, explore the dark world of mining and the dangerous world of logging. Walk through a rainforest and visit with a Grizzly Bear or take a trip into the depths of the sea in Open Oceans. The museum also features a cafe and fine gift shops with well-stocked book sections and exceptional art and jewelry. Open daily 9-5, except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.