Victoria BC Walking Tours
Victoria BC Private Walks

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What to do in Victoria

Victoria BC Walking Tours is definitely one of the first things to do while visiting our city!

Also, there are many other guided walks besides the daily private walking tours of Victoria BC we operate, that you may want to join:

Ghostly Walks are Victoria BC walking tours conducted every night from May 1 to October 31 and on weekends through the rest of the year. Ghost tours for booked groups may be arranged at any time. The tours have been developed by John Adams, one of Victoria's foremost historians and storytellers, who has been leading ghost tours through the alleys and haunted places of Victoria since 1970. He has appeared on the TV series Ghosts and Ghoulies and on OLN's Creepy Canada. The tours are conducted by John and his team of expert Victoria BC Walking Tours guides.

Chinatown in Victoria, British Columbia, is the oldest in Canada and has been designated as a National Historic Site. Chinatown Walks will bring its history to life for you. Founded in 1858 during the early days of the Fraser River Gold Rush, Chinatown was the port of entry for all Chinese arriving in Canada for many years. During construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s Victoria's Chinatown housed almost half of the city's total population. Now much reduced in size, it still retains important heritage buildings and remains the cultural home of many Chinese throughout Canada. This are Victoria BC Walking Tours you should not miss.

Distinctive and memorable walking tours in Victoria, BC. Chinatown, Rockland, Old Town, James Bay, Oak Bay and more! Monday: Rockland Mansions Tuesday: Rum Runners Wednesday: Parliamentary Precinct Thursday: Jewish Victoria Friday: Emily Carr Memories and Mysteries Saturday: Natural History and Memories and Mysteries Sunday: Cathedrals and Convents Discovery Walks have been around since 2001 and focus on Victoria's diverse history. They are 90-minute leisurely walks designed to give residents and visitors an extra understanding of specific neighbourhoods and interesting themes that often are overlooked. Discovery Walks are researched and conducted by a small team of local historians, artists and experienced Victoria BC walking tour guides who are passionate and very knowledgeable about their topics.

AIBC's Architectural Walking Tours
The AIBC’s Architectural Walking Tours program offers unique perspectives of the cities of Victoria. Those interested are invited to take advantage of six distinct Victoria BC walking tours. For more details, see the tour brochures (links below).Summer tours are offered throughout July, August and early September (see tour brochures for schedule). In addition, it may be possible to accommodate group requests ($150/tour) at other times throughout the year, depending on tour guide availability. Please e-mail your request to or call (604) 683-8588.

AIBC's Architectural Walking Tours: INNER HARBOUR
Experience the magnificent golden age of Victoria’s downtown Inner Harbour and surrounding areas. Explore the heritage of this once central public space and learn about the many changes that have taken place throughout the history of this relatively young city. See one of the most visited areas of Victoria, including the magnificent water views of Canada’s west coast. Take in the Legislature buildings and the Empress Hotel as you learn how Victoria became the capital of British Columbia. Take a Victoria BC walking tour along Government Street to discover the historic buildings that have been transformed into the area’s retail and office spaces, and hear the story of B.C. architect Sir Francis Rattenbury and his influence on many prominent buildings in Victoria.

AIBC's Architectural Victoria BC Walking Tours: FORT VICTORIA
Learn about the development of Victoria, from a small Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading fort to the provicial capital it is today. Follow the outline of the fort walls along Government Street, and learn about the architectural conservation and re-use strategies employed over time. Explore Bastion Square, once the heart of Victoria’s legal community, and Wharf Street, the city’s original “Commercial Row” converted into residential and commercial spaces.

AIBC's Architectural Victoria BC Walking Tours: CHINATOWN
Explore public plazas and back alleys from Yates Street to Waddington Alley and Johnson Street, the heart of Old Town. Inspect surrounding examples of circa-1880 architecture, Market Square, and Fan Tan Alley. Learn about the culture, social, and architectural history of Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and discover the gems found along Douglas Street including the Hudson’s Bay Company Store, City Hall and Centennial Square.

AIBC's Architectural Victoria BC Walking Tours: ECLESIASTICAL
Enjoy a brisk walk featuring Victoria’s rich legacy of religious architecture. Visit the city’s two cathedrals and Canada’s oldest surviving syngogue. See how historical events have shaped and changed the look and feel of some of Victoria’s most impressive buildings. See what remains of a pioneer cemetery and stroll through the grounds of early 19th century buildings of worship. The sheer size and massing of these buildings is enough to make you want to learn more.

AIBC's Architectural Victoria BC Walking Tours: JAMES BAY
Discover James Bay, Canada’s oldest residential neighbourhood on the West Coast. Learn about the historic homes of some of Victoria’s most influential residents, dating back to the days of colonial administration.Explore houses built in architectural styles from Queen Anne Cottages to Arts & Crafts, many of which have been designated as Provincial Heritage sites. Nearing Beacon Hill Park, you’ll find Emily Carr House, the childhood home of the famed B.C. artist and writer.

AIBC's Architectural Victoria BC Walking Tours: ART DECO/MODERN
In the 1920’s, Victoria architects embraced the stylized, geometric Art Deco and Style Moderne, the latests trends emanating from Paris and New York. Discover how these styles suited new building types and businesses, and how they altered traditional approaches to the use of stone, marble and concrete. This tour includes a look at some of the city’s innovative banks, office buildings, motels and residences, as well as the Inner Harbour’s landmark Information Centre Tower. Deluxe Wine Country Victoria BC Walking Tours
This is a highly recommended deluxe tour for the true wine enthusiast or just someone who is eager to learn while taking in the exquisite sights and experiences of the Island's wine country. Begin your excursion day with a relaxing ride past unparalleled forest scenery, expansive countryside vistas and a stop at the breathtaking viewpoint over the Malahat where you can see the expanse of the Salish strait and Gulf Islands. You will have the opportunity to stop at charming wineries and to taste the fine wines and ports of British Columbia, plus a visit to picturesque Cowichan Bay and visit to a cider distillery. Enjoy lunch in one of the wineries that serve wonderful local food. Whatever your interests, I will help make your day in wine country a lovely and truly special day to remember. Back-Country Victoria BC Walking Tour to The Butchart Gardens
Enjoy a stunning scenic drive along country roads with beautiful farms and rural estates, forest lakes and the breath-taking Brentwood Bay on our way to the Butchart Gardens. We can stop anywhere you would like and take photos. We will then visit and take a stroll through the enchanting and world-renowned Butchart Gardens, a 55-acre garden that was established in 1906 and grew into a botanical wonder. We explore the grounds at our own pace with time for lunch and High Tea if you wish and shopping at the gift shop. I personalize all my tour to include other points of interest you may want to visit such as a sea excursion along Oaky, sightseeing in Victoria Harbour, The Royal Museum, Emily Carr's Home and The Empress Hotel. I am familiar with many great places in Victoria BC and can offer interesting stories and data. So leave those huge tourist buses behind and enjoy your exclusive and fun filled tour with me, your private local guide for Victoria BC Walking Tours. Great homes and neighbourhoods of Victoria BC Walking Tours
A picture is worth a thousand words. Please take a look at the images of the amazing places you will be experiencing in this sea side exploration of Victoria BC: Majestic mountain vistas, lush gardens and parks, Victorian Villages of quaint shops and grand homes. See history in unique streets, architecture and gardens, in a leisurely drive and stroll. Photography, fresh air, a variety of interesting points of interest make this tour a very pleasant and special experience. I personalize all my Victoria BC walking tours to your schedule and pace.


Victoria BC Walking Tours

Private Guided Tours of our Historic Walking Areas

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DISCOVER VICTORIA! The capital city of beautiful British Columbia shines in its colonial English essence at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island.

Great afternoon teas, double-deckers, English inns, pubs and gardens are common in this beautiful city, home of the world famous Butchart Gardens, but there is so much more here for you to see, and so many fascinating stories you shouldn't miss: The magnificent Parliament Buildings & Empress Hotel—and their ill fated architect, Bastion Square where gallows stood, Emily Carr's house, Craigdarroch Castle, exotic Chinatown and its old Opium Factories, Fisherman's Wharf and much, much more...

come see it all with us!

Daily Sightseeing Tours of Victoria BC Canada Our Daily Tours (click for info):
1.5 hr - FREE (tip-based) Introductory Walk  

2.5 hr - Historic Downtown Walk  

7.5 hr - Day-Tour Guided Visit of Victoria  

Learn local history along our walks of Victoria BC Canada

Victoria City started in 1843 as a Hudson Bay Company trading post, named in honour of Queen Victoria, monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India.

With the FIRST (Fraser Valley) gold rush in 1858, Victoria grew rapidly as the main port of entry to the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. When the colonies combined, the City became the colonial capital and was established as the provincial capital when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871.

For most of the nineteenth century, Victoria remained the largest city in British Columbia and was the foremost in trade and commerce. However, with construction of the Transcontinental railway, the new city of Vancouver, as its terminus, emerged as the major west coast port and the largest city in British Columbia.

As of the twentieth century, Victoria evolved primarily as a city of government, retirement and tourism. The City remains, however, Canada’s western naval base and home to a major fishing fleet. Ship building and repair, as well as forest products and machine manufacturing industries, continue as significant sources of employment. Increasingly, the city is developing as a hi-tech, marine, forestry and agricultural research centre. The City is also noted for its fine educational institutions which include the University of Victoria, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (one of only six in the world operated by United World Colleges), and the recently opened Royal Roads University.

The cirty Victoria BC Walking Tours shows has an estimated regional population of 326,000, a moderate climate and scenic setting, Victoria has kept a very vital and comfortable quality of life. The City is proud of its British heritage, its fine homes and neighbourhoods, its historic and attractive downtown, the flowers and parks and, of course, the Inner Harbour with its vistas toward the famous Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.

In our Victoria BC Walking Tours Free Introductory Walk (and also in our Victoria BC Walking Tours Private Historical Walking Areas tours) we show you where (site) Victoria was chosen for settlement in 1843 by James Douglas, a chief factor at the Hudson Bay Company [HBC] at Fort Vancouver (Vancouver, Wash), near the mouth of the Columbia River. A boundary settlement between the US and then British North America was anticipated, and in the event that the 49th parallel was extended to the Pacific, which did occur in 1846, the HBC wanted an alternative fur trading headquarters site under development.

The smaller harbour of Camosack (Victoria Harbour) was chosen over that of Esquimalt for the establishment of Fort Victoria (named after Queen VICTORIA) because it was bordered by extensive tracts of land suitable for agriculture. Originally the area was occupied by Lekwungen (now called Songhees) Aboriginal people who fished and harvested camas bulbs and cherry bark here. The place was associated with the Songhees legend of a wilful girl named Camossung who was turned to stone by Haylas, the mystical transformer. A promontory on the harbour was a sacred site where cradles for infant children were blessed in pre-colonial times.

Victoria managed to became a seat of government in 1849 when the colony of Vancouver (Van Coeverden) Island was created. James Douglas, having succeeded Richard Blanshard as governor, concluded 11 treaties with local Aboriginal groups between 1850 and 1854 to secure title to land in the vicinity of Victoria (he married a local aborigine girl). By the terms of the Douglas Treaties, the Crown recognized existing Aboriginal village sites and acknowledged traditional Aboriginal hunting and fishing rights; in exchange, for cash and trade goods, Aboriginal leaders ceded title of their territories to the Crown. The treaties have featured in several land claims disputes in Victoria and nearby communities in recent years.

Victoria remained a small community of less than 1000 population until it became the supply centre and jumping-off point for the FRASER RIVER GOLD RUSH of 1858. It was the also the base for the Cariboo Gold Rush when incorporated as a city in 1862. The convenient Esquimalt Harbour nearby was designated as a naval base by the British Admiralty in 1865 and still serves this role today as CFB Esquimalt. Victoria's political capital function remained through the successive stages as capital of the colony of Vancouver Island, then of the amalgamated colony of British Columbia (1866) and province of British Columbia (1871).

As the metropolitan centre of BC, Victoria was unchallenged until the rise of Vancouver following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) at Burrard Inlet in 1886. Although it was a terminus of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway (1886), an important regional line, Victoria's relative economic position declined. By the turn of the 20th century, Vancouver had taken over many of the shipping, commercial and manufacturing functions of Victoria, and the capital city gradually settled into its modern role as a government, naval, tourist and retirement centre.

The rehabilitation of Old Town, the late 19th century commercial core around Bastion Square, began in the 1980s. Victoria's Chinatown, the oldest in Canada, was also revitalized then and is now graced by the colourful and decorative Gate of Harmonious Interest. Still, several heritage buildings have been replaced by modern, highrise structures in the city centre, as downtown businesses struggle to compete with commercial and residential developments in neighbouring Saanich, Langford and Colwood. A consequence of this suburban growth is aggravated traffic congestion known as the "Colwood crawl" on the approaches to Victoria.

Compared with other large Canadian cities, Victoria's metropolitan area population is older and more strongly of British origin, despite the infusion of other ethnic groups over the last 50 years. In 2006, both the city and metropolitan area had the highest proportion of population over the age of 80 and the third-highest over the age of 65 among other Canadian cities. The mother tongue of Victorians is overwhelmingly English, followed by Chinese, French and German. In the city of Victoria, 12% of residents were classified as visible minorities, the most prominent being Chinese, South Asians and Blacks. In the larger metropolitan area, visible minorities made up 10% of the population, with Chinese, South Asians and Filipinos being prominent constituents. Aboriginal people comprise nearly 4% of the population, the largest groups being the Tsawout and Tsartlip on the Saanich Peninsula, and the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations closer to the city centre. A majority of Victorians profess a religious faith, Christianity having most adherents. Protestants outnumber Roman Catholics by a ratio of 2:1.

The city has a significant and growing homeless population. The city operates several emergency and transitional shelters, and has purchased former motels and downtown rooming houses in an effort to accommodate this population.

The prominence of government and tourism in Victoria's economy—we at Victoria BC Walking Tours help promote—means a high proportion of the labour force being engaged in public administration, personal services and retail trade. The lack of a well-populated area on the narrow southern tip of Vancouver Island has constricted the growth of wholesale trade, and Victoria's isolation from major mainland markets has discouraged industries and manufacturing. Some industries have shifted to the mainland in recent years, but others, particularly in the research and development of high technology, have moved into the area. Companies affiliated with the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (established in 1989) employ more than 13,000 people.

Victoria is well endowed with educational and fine arts institutions. The University of Victoria (UVIC) (founded in 1963) grew out of Victoria College (1903), which was originally affiliated with McGill University and subsequently with the University of British Columbia. Other institutions include the Victoria Conservatory of Music (1964) and Camosun College (1971). In 1995, the former Royal Roads Military College was restructured as Royal Roads University, and in 2005 one of Canada's first private for-profit universities, University Canada West, opened in the city.

The Royal British Columbia Museum and Butchart Gardens (20 km northwest) are leading attractions for visitors. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Opera Victoria and annual music and dramatic festivals have enhanced the city's reputation in the arts. Canada's first artificial ice rink was built in Victoria in 1911. Since then, from time to time, the city has supported professional hockey, along with pro and semi-pro baseball and lacrosse. Victoria played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1994 and the annual Royal Victoria Marathon (1979) is one of the premier competitions in Canada.

Walking Tours of Victoria BC Canada

Walks & Activities Chart
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