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VICTORIA'S SECRETS

It is indeed a secret…. but more and more people are discovering this little "Shangri la." It is like being dropped in an oasis in the middle of the desert! It is hard to believe there are snowstorms and bitter temperatures just miles away while Victoria enjoys spring like weather on a daily basis!! There is always something in bloom !!!

Did you know…if British Columbia were a country, it would hold the second longest life span in the world behind Japan!!! Why you ask? Well, I am sure if you asked a 100 people you would probably get a 100 various reasons but the one thing that I see as a consistency especially here on the island is the incredible weather and the slower pace of life. Stress, if any, is battled on a daily basis by walking!! I have never seen so many people walking to work!! We know all know how exercise is the enemy of stress and what better way then to walk it off!!

Other then the small out ports of the east coast, I have never experienced a slower lifestyle or a friendlier community!!!

Here are some of Victoria's secrets!!!

Mildest Climate in Canada

With 2,183 hours of sunshine annually, Victoria boasts the mildest climate in Canada!!! Average daytime temperatures range from 71 degrees F / 22 degrees C in July and 45 degrees F / 7 degrees C in December!!

Arbutus Tree

Arbutus Tree also know as the Strawberry tree since it's trunk is reddish in colour. It only grows in two places….the west side of Vancouver Island and an Island somewhere in the Southern hemisphere!! A magnificent yet fiercely rugged tree, Arbutus shows its fullest beauty while clinging to rocky bluffs and craigs.These trees are never far from the ocean. It can be over one hundred feet tall and some can be as wide as ten feet in diameter. These beauties can live to 500 years.

Arbutus makes its crooked shapes because of how it has to cling to the rough terrain and rocks and also how it searches for sunlight bending around other trees searching for light!! It also stores water in its burls for drier times. It is the only tree that grows horizontally!!!

Here is an amazing feature ….Arbutus is the only deciduous tree that does not lose its leaves in the winter! It is like an evergreen tree with leaves instead of needles!. What happens is that in the early summer, new leaves grow and the old ones then fall off but the tree is never ever naked! It always has leaves. It is a beautiful broadleaf evergreen. It is very distinct in that the bark is constantly peeling away to reveal a greenish appearance that is incredibly smooth to the touch.

In Victoria, the Salish First Nation honours the Arbutus Tree as their Tree of Knowledge because it knows how to find the sun.

Fan Tan Alley

Home to the World's narrowest Street! Fan Tan Alley is only about 4 feet at either end and no more than 6 feet in the middle. In the late 1800's Fan Tan Alley was home to opium dens and gambling halls. Chinatown now mixes contemporary stores and live-work condos with traditional Asian markets and diners.

Many of Victoria's contemporary home decor and furnishings stores are found in this neighbourhood. Scenes from one of Mel Gibson's movies, "Bird on a Wire", which co-starred Goldie Hawn, was filmed here.

Chinatown

Victoria's Chinatown is small, but the oldest in Canada!

Chinese Cemetery in Oak Bay

The Chinese Cemetery in Oak Bay is the oldest of its kind in Canada and has been designated a National Historic Site. It was established in 1903 by Victoria's Chinese community.

Other Secrets

  • William Gibson was the first person in Canada to design, build and fly his own aircraft when he took to the air at Victoria's Mount Tolmie in 1910.
  • Victoria has the honour of experiencing the longest period of rainfall of any Canadian city; it received 33 consecutive days of rain in 1986.
  • Rudyard Kipling met George Balcom when he visited Victoria, which inspired him to write the story "The Devil and the Deep Sea." It's based on one of Balcom's sealing adventures.
  • Victoria's Beacon Hill Park is named for the beacons that were lit to warn ships about the dangerous shoals offshore. It was set aside as a park reserve in 1858.
  • The Royal Canadian Navy has maintained its principal west coast base and training establishment in Esquimalt since 1910.
  • Victoria's Steve Nash is Canada's greatest basketballer. His back-to-back MVP wins put him in elite NBA company.
  • Canada's first female prime minister hailed from Vancouver Island. Kim Campbell served as prime minister after Brian Mulroney stepped down in 1993.
  • During its heyday in 1910-13, Vancouver Island's Cumberland was home to the second largest Chinatown north of San Francisco.
  • Built in 1860, the Fisgard Lighthouse was the first light station on the coast. It is located at the entrance to the Esquimalt Harbour and was automated in 1926.
  • In 1858, four Sisters of Saint Ann came from Quebec to open Saint Ann's Academy in Victoria, now a landmark heritage sight.
  • Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle is reputed to be the most expensive residence ever built in western Canada. It was built for Robert Dunsmuir, who died before it was finished in 1890.
  • The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory on Little Saanich Mt was established in 1918 by the federal government. Its 1085 metre telescope was the largest in the world at the time.
  • Arthur Currie, a school teacher from Victoria, became one of Canada's greatest war heroes during WWI. His strategic planning helped capture Vimy Ridge in 1917.
  • Robert and Jennie Butchart began developing a sunken garden in a neighbouring quarry site in 1904. Butchart Gardens would later become a popular tourist attraction on Vancouver Island.
  • The B.C. portion of the Trans-Canada Highway was completed in 1962 after 12 years of construction. The highway begins at mile 0 in Victoria.
  • The BC Ferry Corporation originated in 1958 during a labour dispute that shut down the privately owned ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Mainland.
  • Two B.C. teams have won hockey's Stanley Cup: the Vancouver Millionaires did it in 1915, and ten years later Victoria's Cougars took home the trophy.
  • James Douglas was the first governor of the colony of British Columbia from 1858 to 1864. He chose the location for Fort Victoria in 1842 and served as the governor of Vancouver Island.
  • Cadboro was the first sailing vessel brought to the coast by the Hudson's Bay Company to conduct trading and supply voyages. Cadboro Bay in Victoria is named after that vessel.
  • The Colony of Vancouver Island, established in 1849, merged with the mainland Colony of British Columbia to form a single colony in 1866.
  • The Royal BC Museum opened in Victoria in 1886 as the Provincial Museum of Natural History. It moved to its current location across from the Parliament Buildings in 1968.
  • The University of Victoria was located in the Craigdarroch mansion from 1921 to 1946. In 1963 it was officially proclaimed a university and moved to its present location.
  • Goldstream Provincial Park is named for a minor gold rush in the 1860s. Today the main attraction is the autumn salmon spawning season.



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