Vancouver Island is, at 32,134 km², the largest island on the western side of North America. The island has a population of over 750,000 and stretches southeast to northwest along the western coast of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The rugged west coast is cut deeply by fjords lined between high mountains with many communities located along the shores of protected bays. The eastern plain is rich with timber, farmlands, fishing streams, villages, and modern cities. I’m aware of all of that now because I’ve just spent the day in Victoria, the British Columbia capital and Vancouver Island’s largest city.
Passengers boarding the ferry at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for the 90-minute trip to Vancouver Island. The terminal is some 90 minutes by bus from downtown Vancouver and once you disembark the ferry at Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island it is yet another 30 minutes by bus to the island’s capital of Victoria. So, and unless you’ve got yourself a helicopter, it’s quite the hike to get to Victoria from downtown Vancouver; all told it’s a 7-hour+ round-trip making it a full-day excursion from the North American mainland. Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
A gull hovering in the wind above a BC Ferries vessel passing through the Swanson Channel en route to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
Passing through the Swanson Channel en route to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
Victoria || BC’s Capital
While the city of Vancouver is located on the North American mainland, Victoria is located on southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 90 kilometres from downtown Vancouver. It’s a beautiful place, especially when the sun is out, and I spent most of the afternoon today taking a look around. Named after Queen Victoria, the city is one of the oldest in the Pacific Northwest with a British settlement beginning here in 1843.
Needless to say, Victoria has retained a large number of historic buildings, none more so than this, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. Finished in 1897, today the building is home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. At night it is lit up with 13,000 lights & excellent free public tours are available. Victoria (), Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013
The central dome of the Parliament Buildings, home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
Victoria’s quaint Inner Harbour is awash with flowers in the springtime & abuzz with artists, buskers & other entertainers during the busier summer months. In late March it’s just quiet and a nice place to be. Inner Harbour, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
Inside Craigdarroch Castle, an historic, Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The 2,300 m², 39-room, 4-storey castle was constructed in the late 1800s as a family residence for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir who had the misfortune to die in April 1889, some 17 months before the castle was completed. The building has had an eventful history – it was once raffled off to stimulate interest during a period of slow real estate sales – but today it is owned by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society, a private non-profit society, & is open to the public. One of Victoria’s most popular attractions, it receives 150,000 visitors a year who come here to ogle at the building’s lavish 1890s furnishings, its stunning stained-glass windows, and its intricate woodwork. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.
Sunset from Tsawwassen-bound ferry returning to the North American mainland after a day on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. March 22, 2013.