Not really off the beaten track as far as location, It's around the side and underneath the Empress Hotel, but it's not the first thing you hear people say is a Must See for Victoria. Miniature world is a museum of dioramas, scenes all constructed in miniature to the finest detail. There are 88 displays including a grand dollhouse display, scenery and towns including a wonderful one of a town with a circus and a display called Space 2001. There is a panorama of Canada along the railway, an Elizabethan Londontown, and a fantasy land where story book tales are portrayed!
Pioneer Square, Victoria's old burying ground (also known as the Quadra Street Cemetery), is one of the oldest cemeteries in British Columbia. Burials took place in the early days of the city, from 1855 to 1873, until Ross Bay Cemetery was opened. Although most of the headstones have either disappeared or have been moved to the back corner of what now is a nice and quiet city park, most bodies were left at Pioneer Square, which is of course at the basis of many of the city's ghost stories!
Pioneer Square is located next to the magnificient Christ Church Cathedral, at the corner of Quadra and Rockland St. The Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria organizes guided tours of the old burying ground - just check their website for more info.
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse aren't exactly unkown spots, but they are a bit off the beaten track. It's about 15 minutes from downtown Victoria. I took the bus, and the bus only went so far...so I had to walk the last 20-25 minutes to get to the park - I passed a frisbee golf area and a nice wooded area along the way...nevermind all the cars that were zoomin' by. Anyways, Fisgard Lighthouse is a working lighthouse and one of the oldest on the west coast. There's a lighthouse museum inside as well. Fort Rodd Hill shows off 3 big guns meant for shooting at passing ships, underground storage chambers, military living quarters, and so on. The two sites are right next to each other, and the walk along the beach between Fisgard and Fort Rodd is very nice. There's even a short hiking trail nearby. It cost about $5 (c.d.) for the entrance fee.
A century ago, one thousand of bodies lay buried under the earth at The Old Burying Ground. Today, it is known as Pioneer Square and some of the larger and more significant tombstones remain. Although there are few grave markers, most of the thousand "residents" still remain on the site. It is considered to be one of Victoria's most haunted areas, and was featured on the Creepy Canada TV series. It's an easy walk from downtown, at the corner of Quadra Street and Rockland Avenue. Rather than worry about ghosts, keep your eyes peeled for syringes left by some of the park's less scrupulous visitors; avoid the park after nightfall for that reason.
Although it no longer is open to the public, the replica of Anne Hathaway's Cottage can be found at the English Inn and Resort, along with a few buildings that will make you believe you have found a secret passage way into Stratford-upon-Avon! Visitors are welcome to walk around the 5-acre garden estate and snatch a few pictures of this rather unusal resort.
Directions: From downtown Victoria, cross Johnson St. Bridge, follow Esquimalt Rd and turn left on Lampson St. The English Inn and Resort is located at 429 Lampson St.
If you follow the pathway along the inner harbor west past the undersea gardens for a couple of blocks, you’ll come to Fisherman’s Wharf. This is where some of the local fishing boats land their catch. It’s also the residence of a motley group of float homes moored to the wharf. Other than that there’s a restaurant with a city-wide reputation for good fish and chips.
Okay - so I'm a bit weird in that whenever I travel I like to search out the best ummm 'facilities' that I can. I call this being on the 'porcelain patrol'. Obviously this is a lot more fun, gratifying and often desperately necessary in places where public toilets are not a dime a dozen or quite as clean as we're used to here in the West.
So if you too like to look for the best in plumbing or just be able to say that you washed your hands in a ritzy hotel duck into the Empress and use the loo.
You've got two lanes of approach. Enter off of Douglas Street through the Conference Centre and use the bathroom outside the Bengal Room. Or enter through the below ground entrance (shown in the photo - it's to the right of the now unused main entrance which is below the name 'The Empress' on the front of the hotel).
No matter which facility you use make sure and check out the interesting archives that are downstairs at the opposite end of the corridor from Kiplings. Also don't miss the opportunity to check out the magnificent rosewood ceiling in the bar across from the dining room.
To get to this location go up the stairs near Kiplings (just one level) and go right and then right again. Look up - it's amazing isn't it.
Probably best to retrace your steps to the exit of your choice. Sometimes you can go through the tea lobby but sometimes you can't. Check out the art shoppes near the Bengal Room - they have some beautiful pieces (with prices to match).
At the entrance to the inner harbor you’ll find a breakwater shielding the deep water port of Ogden Point. This is where cruise ships and navel vessels dock when visiting Victoria. It also has a heliport with direct service to Vancouver, and Seattle. The waterfront walkway starts here and continues along the Victoria shoreline.
Inside the courtyard of the Central Library Building you and your family will find a giant metallic sculpture. At the base of the sculpture there is a button. Pushing the button is hit or miss - in the past, it would always cause the sculpture to rotate. Today, it's hit and miss as to whether the sculpture will turn or not. Inside the library, short-term internet access is available free to city visitors.
Access the courtyard on Broughton Street, between Douglas Street and Blanshard Street.
Located on the Galloping Goose Trail, this mural takes up the abutments alongside the trail where the railroad passed between the narrow concrete passage allowed by the bridge. Here, Burnisde Road passes over the trail. The artwork can only be seen from the trail as it passes under the bridge.
The narrow canyon of the bridge supports makes it almost impossible to see the entire sides of the murals, and in fact the mural is harder to view than that of Bridging, which is the other large bridge mural on this section of the trail.
The scenes commemorate the history of the community that once prospered here, including small farms and various other parts of community life. One of the large features of the mural on the east side is the Galloping Goose rail bus that once plied these rails, and from which the trail derives its name.
The art work is featured on the Victoria Public Art Database. For more information on that, please see my tip about Victoria Public Art and its Public Art Database.
My tip is located at
The Victoria Database of Public Art is located at
This old Victorian house is the birthplace of Emily Carr, one of Canada's most well-known painters of the 20th century. Her artistic style was greatly influenced by the culture of the native British Columbian First Nation tribes. Later in life, she worked and lived in both Vancouver and Victoria, and was in regular contact with the Group of Seven, one of the nation's most prominent and influential gatherings of painters.
Today, her old beautiful home is a small tourist attraction operated by BC Heritage, located away from the Inner Harbour and in Victoria's southern residential neighborhoods. It's worth a visit to stop by and see where one of the city's most famous natives grew up.
The house is located a ten minute walk south of the Inner Harbour along Government St.
Scattered throughout Victoria it is possible to find quite an assortment of public art. This includes sculptures of varoius types, murals and paintings, and decorations of all sorts. These range from highly traditional totems to highly stylized and/or abstract modern works.
The source of the artwork is as varied as the works themselves, as they were produced by unknown artists (especially the few remaining antique totems that come from time immemorial), well known artists, and groups of volunteers that will never be completely known.
The range of works is fairly broad. A few of these works (but by no means all of them) are covered in a web database of artwork in Victoria and surrounding communities. However, this database does not cover a number of the works. Particularly missing from the database are the various monuments in a number of locations (which include statues and public fountains that are works of art in their own right), the "Orcas in the City" series of works (which is covered by a separate web site), the various works on the grounds of the Royal British Columbia Museum, and the various works of art that are part of the British Columbia Parliamet building.
For the Orcas in the City project (which covers both Victoria and Vancouver) see the web site of this art project at:
http://www.orcasinthecity.com/ Orcas in the City was a project to raise funds for children with disabilities. The orca whale models became artist's canvas, and sat on public display in 2003 and 2004. In November of 2004 some of the more popular ones were sold at public auction to raise funds. Some of their new owners have continued to feature the whales on public display. Some of the new owners have the whales on public display outdoors, while others are indoors, and yet others are hidden from public view. There is a walking guide to the whales, but as the whales are not owned by the Orcas in the City project I am not certain that the whales on the map are all in the places indicated. Some of them may have been moved since the guide was produced.
A few specific public art works featured elsewhere on my Victoria Pages:
Bridging - A Mural along the Galloping Goose Trail
Burnside Heritage - A Mural along the Galloping Goose Trail
Homecoming is right next to the Victoria Visitor's Center
Millenium Peace is located in a park facing south
Thunderbird Park is one of many places in Victoria with a high population of totems. Many parks have these here.
The Eccentric Waterfront Protest Sculpture is probably temporary, but still an interesting addition to the waterfront.
Sculptures of First Nations Traditional Wool Tools are used as giant map pins to point out several historical features around Victoria.
Decorated Street Electrical Cabinets are in a number of places.
St. Ann's Academy is the former convent and boarding school known as St. Ann's. This heritage building is now open to the public. Admission is by donation and guided tours are available for $2 per person.
The grounds are peaceful and full of very old and somewhat rare fruit trees (I just looked at the timeline and the trees were planted in 1873!) There is a lovely chapel and many other rooms and items of interest.
The story of the nuns of the order and the work they did for the sick, poor and disadvantaged of Victoria is inspirational and worth hearing.
Give yourself a couple of hours to wander around St. Ann's and soak up the atmosphere of contemplation and quiet joy.
Most travellers would never catch a glimpse of the view from moss rock in Fairfield... it's a difficult place to find, but once you're there, you are guaranteed a great view of the city and shoreline! good for both sunset and sunrise, it's free to visit and well hidden between several houses on the back streets of fairfield. Basically, you head up Fairfield Street away from town (about 20 minutes walking distance), and look for the sign that takes you to moss rock on your right... if you arrive at Thrifty's food, you know you've gone to far... ask around for directions and good luck! When you find the rock, just climb to the top and soak in the view.
An interesting place to see is the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. A small museum, but interesting for lovers of the Sea.
Interesante también para españoles: incluye cartas navales, cuadros ... de las exploraciones españolas en la zona, en el siglo XVIII, y unas réplicas (a escala, claro) de las corbetas de la expedición Malaspina, cedidas por el rey Juan Carlos, cuando visitó la ciudad (no recuerdo qué año).