The Johnson Street Bridge is the connection from downtown Victoria to Esquimalt.
This bascule-type bridge was completed in 1924 at the cost of almost a million CAD.
It was a design by Joseph Strauss, who later designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The bridge had 2 parts, the railway section and the highway section.
The original deck was made of wood timbers which made it slippery when wet and also heavier. Opening the bridge became a delicate job in this way.
In 1966 the wood was replaced by an open steel grid.
To battle ongoing corrosion, in 1979 the whole bridge was repaired and renovated. After that it got its new blue colour and became known as the "Blue Bridge".
In 1995 abnormally high temperatures caused the steel decking to expand to the point the bridge would not open or close properly. This necessitated the removal of about 1-inch of the decking.
Until 2011, the railway bridge was used twice a day by the Via Rail Dayliner. That section and counterweight have been removed.
From the bridge you have a great view of the Inner Harbour and the BC Parliament buildings.
The Netherlands Carillon was a gift of the Dutch community in Britsh Columbia to honour Canada's 100th Birthday in 1967. Former Dutch Queen Juliana unveiled the cornerstone in May 23, 1967.
On most Sundays there are carillon concerts.
Take yourself out on a walking tour of Victoria, there is so much to see, and such history that your day will be filled. Around the corner from the inner harbour and Parliament buildings you'll easily locate Canadian painter and authors' Emily Carr birth home.
Spring and Summer are probably the best times to visit, as they close down during the fall and winter months.
Victoria being a tourist-centered town from spring to fall, has quite a number of walking tours to try. For example the Ghostly Walks tour, according to which Victoria is considered the most haunted place on the West Coast, with plenty of spooky places to see and feel: Bastion Square, Old Town, Chinatown, St. Ann's Academy and the historic waterfront apparently having more hauntings than any other parts of the city...
The page from Tourism Victoria, below lists some of the popular tours.
"Vic West" is short for Victoria West, and pretty much everything on the west side of the inner harbor qualifies as Victoria West, until you get to the border of the next city to the west named Esquimalt. In the not so distant past, several branch line railroads served much of the waterfront area on the east side of the harbour, and wandered through Victoria westward and northward for quite some distance. Eventually the Canadian National Railway decided to exit the railroad business on Vancouver Island, and the railway lines they owned in Victoria have now become recreational trails. The "Galloping Goose" was an eccentric passenger and light freight moving machine that operated over this line in the days when there wasn't enough traffic to justify having a locomotive hauled train.
The trail network extends far beyond Victoria. Indeed, currently the "other end" of the trail is at the Kapoor Regional Park and on the trail it is some 55 km (33 miles) from the start of the trail in Victoria. As this trail is therefore more of a region-wide activity I am only going to include the portion of the trail that is in Victoria proper here in the Victoria section. At some future date, I hope to include a larger portion of the trail into a more regional specific tip.
There are some really good things about the Galloping Goose Trail, and there are some sections of it that are very attractive. However, a significant portion of the trail in Victoria is also not exceptionally nice. Once it crosses the Inner Harbour on a long bridge, it then immediately enters commercial and industrial areas and is not very scenic at all. Indeed, parts of it are next to a gully that has quite a lot of trash in it. North of there, after it crosses Highway 1 at km 4 (2.4 miles), the trail actually parallels this horribly noisy and busy highway until it leaves the metropolitan area. The first section of the trail isn't quite as bad, but still isn't extremely scenic as it goes through the old waterfront and is incorporated into a new street with industrial buildings on one side and new residential development on the other.
Unfortunately this leaves less than two kilometers of the trail in Victoria that are really pleasant to explore. Based on the map, I would say that the trail outside the urban area is far more pleasant to explore.
The good news is that this good section of the trail in Victoria is reasonably scenic, and also has several branch trails that are reasonably good to explore on foot as well.
Milepost 0 / Km 0:
To get to the start of the Galloping Goose Trail, go north from the core of the tourist section of town near the Parliament Building, and find the train station on the east side of the Johnson Street Bridge. Make your way to the train station, and then continue west on the sidewalk / pathway that goes west on the north side of the bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, you will come to an information post that features maps of the trail system and other useful information for users of the trail. Public restrooms are few and far between in the downtown section of the trail, so pay close attention to their location on the map.
Features, South to North:
The first section of the trail runs along a new city street created from the railroad right of way. The east side of the street is ship yard indistrial, and there is even a viewpoint created for those who want to watch the ship building activity.
After approximately five blocks, the trail continues along the water, and it is finally possible to escape some of the traffic noise. The trial runs along the water past several viewing platforms positioned over the water, and a small peninsula features an antique ships propeller standing as a silent monument to the harbour's active past.
To cross the narrow strip of water known as "The Gorge" the trail crosses on the old railroad trestle. Just before the bridge, there is a trail that continues on the south side of the waterway. It only goes a short distance, but leads to a small city park combined with a school ground, and has a decent view of the waterway and some small forest lands along the water.
The bridge itself has wooden decking, and may be somewhat slippery when it is wet. I suggest caution on it until you are familiar with it, and as it has a large hump in the middle for boat traffic to pass it is possible to not see what is coming at you - and traffic is very mixed between bicyclists of all speeds plus dogs on leashes and wandering children - so be careful on the bridge.
On the north side of the bridge, there is another division in the trail. Again, one branch of the trail leads along the water and runs beside several commercial buildings, including a restaurant. This branch trail comes to an abrupt end at industrial land to the southeast. However, this section does let you get some scenery in, and it is a fairly quiet section of the trail compared to the main route. This section also features a kayak club and a ferry stop on the Victoria Harbour Ferries.
After crossing "The Gorge" the trail becomes much less interesting. North of here the highlights are several bridges under which it passes which have had substantial artworks added to their undersides. Other than this, the trail has very little of interest. It is mostly commercial and industrial. Several roads are crossed at grade, but only one or two are really busy ones until you get to Highway 1, which is crossed at a bridge.
The underside of two of the bridges over the old railway line have been made into works of art. One commemorates the history of Victoria and the railway line on which you are walking, and the other is more of a cultural interaction monument. These two murals are Bridging and the Burnside Heritage Mural. Both are worth stopping to take a look and admire, but particularly Bridging as it is only slightly north of the end of the bridge.
North of Highway 1, there is another intersection with a trail called the Lochside Regional Trail. This is also part of the old railway line, and leads northeast from Victoria.
Officially the Galloping Goose Trail follows Highway 1 directly west for the next 7 km (4 miles) or so, until it exits Victoria. To go past this point from downtown Victoria you really need to be prepared for a long distance bike trip and be prepared for this next section of trail to be quite bad due to traffic and noise, but with significant promise of good things to come after that.
See my ongoing attempt at developing a Galloping Goose Tip in the Vancouver Island section for more photos.
Starting immediately on the west side of the Johnson Street Bridge, and wandering along the Victoria inner harbor to the west, the Westsong Walkway runs for 2.7 km (1.6 miles). One or two areas of the walkway are exposed to heavy traffic noise, but the rest of the walkway is shielded from auto traffic noise by buildings and distance. For the most part, the pathway is separated from streets by hotels and residential buildings. Photos 3 and 4 show the narrow space between the buildings and the harbour occupied by this walkway in places. Pallastsis Point is a rocky spit of land of significance as a "sacred meeting place" to the local native tribes though which the trail passes as well.
Several small works of art are located along the walkway, and there are one or two beach access points as well, though the beaches here are not large by any means, and fairly rocky.
The walkway is also quite well lit at night, which is not true of the walkway on the other side of the harbor.
There are several small docks that appear to be available for public use.
Running along the waterfront along the south side of Victoria's Inner Harbour, and through several parks, this narrow paved walkway offers visitors views of boats entering and leaving the harbour, plus in the winter it isn't unusual to see at least a few water birds diving only a few feet from land.
Unlike the Westsong walkway on the north side of the harbour, this walkway is not lit at night. Furthermore, there are a number of rough areas in the pavement. If you go through here at night, it would be advisable to bring your own light!
The east end of the walkway is essentially located at the intersection of Pendray Street and Belleville Street, which is just west of the ferries that connect downtown Victoria with various points in the USA. From here the walkway wanders through Laurel Point Park and then through several hotel and condominium properties before ending at Fisherman's Warf Park. The pathway can not go any farther than that due to large port and coast guard facilities located on the land at the end of the peninsula.
Signs indicating the location of the walkway are fairly small, but should be fairly easily visible to those approaching them on foot. The would be quite easy to drive past if you are looking for them from your car, however.
There are a number of benches along the pathway, and for the most part the pathway is far from loud traffic.
Victoria is an architectural marvel. Lovingly well-preserved, the historic downtown features buildings from a variety of styles reflecting its turn-of-the-century glory days. Growing from its colonial trading post inception in 1843, Victoria was Western Canada's most illustrious city by the early 1900s and remains one of the country's top tourist destinations. It is easy to see why just by walking the charming streets of its historic downtown area.
Just be careful if you might choose to do this when the ocean is rough...I'm not kidding...its actually quite common that when the weather is really foul,strong winds and high seas...people often will walk the breakwater for a bit of an adrenaline rush I guess....Ive always been too chicken to attempt the whole length in bad weather but I have ventured out in less than favorable conditions...the waves easily smash up over the couple of layers of block and you easily get a good soaking..in any event it provides GREAT views of the Strait and the Olympic Mountains.
The breakwater is an 800-meter long construction of stacked granite blocks and concrete.Its construction was started in 1914 and completed in 1916...construction of the breakwater included over one million tons of rock and ten thousand granite blocks.
The reward at the end of the breakwater is a lighthouse at the tip [ where if you're able to sit and relax for a while ] also there's also the chance that you'll have a look at some of the many harbor seals that make the area they're home...the waters are littered with long whips of Bullwhip Kelp...and its fun on a calm day to watch for star fish,crab and other marine animals..
Given that there are Resident pods of Orca in the general vicinity of the waters of Victoria its not impossible that you might catch a look at one from a distance...Ive seen whales from shore many times while visiting and living in the area...
If you might be challenged physically in some form or other affecting mobility you might not be able to walk here...there's a fencing of a sort that you need to kind of twist and squeeze through in order to access the walkway..
The leeward side of the breakwater is a tie up area and wharf for the Pilot Boats that are used whenever shipping might be passing close to the city of Victoria...
There's a small restaurant at the land end of the breakwater...which is handicap accessible..with large glassed walls that provided a great view while you enjoy a coffee or sandwich or other light snack.I haven't eaten here but the selection of coffees is good and its a pretty wide open comfortable space...EXCEPT that you must get your food by lining up at counters and bring it yourself to the tables...
Check this out....its free to access and there's on street parking close by on Dallas Road if you night be driving here...
This is one of my favorite places to hang out and just relax..find a park bench...have a little nap in the sunshine or walk along the shoreline paths...easiest way to start it off is along Dallas Road...just South a little bit from the downtown core and adjacent to a neighborhood called "Jame's Bay"...Its a wonderful paved walkway used often by joggers and walkers...The views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains on the American side of the Strait are stupendous...and well worth a little detour to explore..
You can combine your "downtime" here with a walk along the Ogden Point Breakwater if you like...the walkway will take you past Clover Point Park...Mile Zero of the Trans Canada Highway in Beacon Hill Park...and Holland Point...
If you might be driving there's ample FREE parking here...Ive honestly never noticed signs restricting the time a vehicle can be parked here...
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