Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
By Julian Durham
Exerpted from "Summer on the Pacific Coast." The Canadian Magazine. May, 1900. pp. 10-12
...[T]he Queen City of Victoria affords a variety of attractions that fairly rival those of older and more established places. Picturesqeuly situated on a hill which slopes down gentely to the ocean's brim, and surounded by beatiful open country and cultivated fields, the town is particularly inviting to travellers. Across James Bay the Parliament Buildings stand out in all the majesty of their cold grey splendour, and many an hour may be pleasurably and profitably spent roaming through the Legislative Chamber and committee rooms, the library and the various Government departments, or in studying the fine collection of stuffed animals, birds, fishes, and Indian curios that fills the well-stocked Provincial Museum.
The coast cities, being essentially business towns, do not in themselves engage much attention from the ordinary stranger, unless he is interested in manufacturies, shipping, or some special branch of trade; therefore it is unnecessary to dilate in this connection upon the general aspect of the handsome "blocks," warehouses, shops and public buildings that adorn Vancouver, Victoria or New Westminster. The tourist usually finds his chief attractions outside of such limitations.
For example, at Oak Bay, beyond the treadmill of the typical sight-seer, the Golf Links are superb—large undulating meadows hemmed in by the sea, and possessing precisely those qualifications which render them well-night [sic] perfect in the eyes of all players of the good old Scottish national game. Then there are the country roads that intersect the fertile farm lands, where one may ride, drive or wheel for miles between hedge-rows bright with wild flowers, and where the scent of the dog-roses is sweet upon the June air. Or again, there is the ocean, trimmed by a fringe of wave-worn rocks, and upon whose palpitating bosom the dull green masses of kelp with their long brown ribband-streamers heave softly up and down. There the tourist can row in an open boat, or else he can paddle a canoe up the gorge, below whose waters deep purpling shadows lie hid, whilst overhead, above the changes and chances of the clouds, the blue sky is stretched from horizon to horizon. In the environs of Victoria, whichever way you turn, an exquisite landscape or seascape meets your eye.
Of course, the Queen City has its Chinatown, its park, and its share of good hotels, just like Vancouver, and there is no more delightful abiding place in all British Columbia than the "Oak Bay," an hotel that stands facing the sea, midway between the town and the Golf Links.
A run down by tram-car to the Naval Station at Esquimalt, combined with visits to Her Majesty's ships in port, forms a charming way of spending a summer afternoon, added to which an expedition to the Barracks and the fortifications of Macauley Point is most enjoyable.
Every one bicycles in Victoria, and excursions awheel are largely the order of the day. Innumerable spots, such as Cedar Hill, Goldstream, or Otter Point offer every inducement to picnickers; therefore, from the time when the first tender shoots of spring appear, until autumn lies brooding over the land, enwrapping all nature in her russet cloak, merry parties may be met daily bound for some outlying district with hearts aflutter and spirits gay.
An immense amount of shipping is done in Victoria, and the trips that can be made thence by boat, and the expeditions that may be undertaken up the Island by those in search of pleasure and sport are countless. A journey to Nanaimo over the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Line is also a capital means of seeing the country, and some very large coal mines at the end of the journey.
Nor is there any lack of amusement in the evenings, as dramatic performances, concerts, and entertainments of various kinds are constantly in progress in all the coast cities, each of which boasts of theatres and music halls.
To the artist the picturesque elements met with at the western edge of Canadian soil carry an irresistible appeal. The diversity of form, the riot of colour, and the force of individuality are all there, whilst a cosmopolitan flavour gives to the whole a daring dash of contrast. On the Siwash Indian Reserves, in the Chinese quarters, and along the waterfronts dwell types that are each a study in itself. When the sun comes climbing up over the snow-capped crests of the mountains, and you see the land touched with the witchery of a summer's day—what a picture is that! Or the reverse—the austere and treeless cliffs, stern bastions of rock upraised against an oxydized-silver sky, some log huts crouching between half-burned trees at the edge of an angry sea, and in the foreground a few spent blooms that bow their heads in grief as the chill wind moans a requim over the dead day.
Life is so full of enjoyment during the summer on the Pacific Coast, that it is difficult to discriminate and decide exactly what constitutes the real charm of existence in that glamorous Western Land.
Is it sport? There is plenty. Is it sight-seeing? An unlimited choice awaits the stranger. Is it cycling, driving, riding, boating or mountaineering? Each one is indulged in. Is it tennis, golf, croquet, or cricket? All are played. Is it scenery? British Columbia is full of Nature's most magnificent handiwork. Ah! well, who shall say? We of the West are content. Let the Tourist answer.
Victoria, B.C., Canada: Downs and ups on an anniversary trip —or, How we were denied entrance to Victoria's most famous garden for dressing too decently, yet still managed to find many lovely flowers in much better places
Port Townsend (1889)
Port Townsend, Wash. (1891)
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