Office Phone: 250-338-5466
Courtenay, British Columbia
The region immediately west of Victoria, is known as the Western Communities, or West Shore, and stretches westwards from Esquimalt Harbour to Rocky Point, along the shoreline of the Juan de Fuca Strait.
This part of Vancouver Island was opened for farming in the 1860s to provide fresh produce for the burgeoning population of gold miners and attendant settlers in the nearby Victoria region. As such, the natural ambience here remains pastoral, particularly in Metchosin and the Highlands. Today, the Western Communities is a largely residential and rural area of Greater Victoria, offering a number of excellent parks, golf courses and many other sports facilities. The population (2006 Census) is 58,450 including the West Shore municipalities of Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal and the Highlands. The area is accessed from Victoria by Douglas Road, which becomes the Trans-Canada Highway 1, and the West Coast Highway 14 (Sooke Road).
Sidney, Sooke and the West Shore are three major communities close to Victoria; the delightful seaside town of Sidney, the district of Sooke, and the West Shore. The smaller communities of Saanich, Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal and the Highlands are also part of the Victoria communities.
Victoria is loved for its diversity—a city where the youthful energy of the West Coast blends with time-honoured British, European and Asian traditions. Where it is just as natural to picnic on a beach as it is to take tea in a formal tearoom, where you can explore on a bicycle or by a horse-drawn carriage, and where splendid historic buildings house galleries of contemporary art. Victoria is a city of beautiful contrasts, where the elegance of history mingles with the panache of modern life. It is a place to relax and restore your sense of balance and also a place to experience thrilling adventures.
When the gold rush started in 1858, Victoria grew into a wild frontier city almost overnight. The population increased tenfold in one year as businesses sprang up to serve the needs of thousands of miners of European and Asian descent that arrived daily, joining the British, French-Canadian, Metis and Hawaiians who were already working for the Hudson's Bay Company. The evidence of these cultural influences is everywhere in Victoria. The Gates of Harmonious Interest is a modern addition to Canada's oldest Chinatown, once a “forbidden city” of mystery and intrigue where few Westerners dared to enter. The architecture of St. Ann's Academy reflects the Quebecois origins of the sisters of St. Ann who arrived in 1858 and played an important role nursing and teaching in the early days of the city.
Victoria's cultural element has won the attention of the country and, in 2005; the city was awarded Cultural Capital of Canada status, a designation that has led to several new cultural projects that reflect the city's history, diversity, and vibrant artistic community.
As a city, Victoria loves its festivals and the community gathers for gala celebrations to honour all the things Victorians love; jazz music, ghosts, gardens, fine food, visual arts, literature, boats, theatre—and that's just the beginning. Check out the list of annual festival highlights at www.tourismvictoria.com/events.
Victoria's youthful spirit is also amply evident in its cuisine. In addition to Victoria's long time affection for Afternoon Tea, Victoria and all of Vancouver Island are developing a reputation as Canada's Provence. The local bounty is exceptional. West Coast or "Island" cuisine is prevalent and includes specialties such as Pacific Seafood, Island grown products and local cheese. Many restaurants feature Vancouver Island and BC wines paired with local and exotic cuisines. For brewery, culinary, farm, and winery/cidery tours and dinner cruises visit www.tourismvictoria.com/dining for reviews and more information.
Naturally, with the Pacific Ocean right here, many of the most popular activities for the entire Island are marine-based. Whale and wildlife watching, yachting, kayaking, sailing, diving and fishing to name a few. Victoria is famous for sailing and is an international marine racing gateway. The yearly Floating Boat Show to the Swiftsure International Yacht Race to the Classic Boat Festival in September to the Dragon Boat Festival and this year, the Tall Ships Festival in June calls to all boat enthusiasts. And, don't forget the seafood you'll catch fishing!
As an Island, there are many transportation modes to the Island. From the International Airport to floatplane service in the Inner Harbour, you can be here or off the Island quickly. By ferry, Vancouver Island and Victoria is well serviced to the mainland of BC and Washington state. A variety of air porter and taxi services, public transport, train service and bus service makes traveling a breeze.
Population statistics show the Victoria municipality population at 78,057, although the Greater Victoria area (Capital Regional District) is 330,088; while Vancouver Island is 699,645. Victoria offers a daily newspaper, twice weekly local newspapers, weekly entertainment guide, and many other publications. There are several local radio stations and a local TV Station based in Victoria. An active Chamber of Commerce, a variety of business organizations, service clubs and local and national charitable organizations. Victoria is served by 2 major hospitals and many local walk-in clinics. Churches and organized/unorganized religious opportunities abound as well as educational institutions from world-class universities and colleges to exceptional language training programs.
If you are an avid golfer, you probably already know all about the amazing courses in the Vancouver Island region. Courses designed by masters like Jack Nicklaus, A.V. Macan, and Les Furber. Courses that have challenged the likes of Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Scott McCarron and have been acclaimed in Golf Digest and Score Golf Magazine, and then there are the classics courses like the Victoria Golf Club and the Royal Colwood!