Heritage & Culture

Victoria

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

One of Canada’s finest art galleries is home to nationally important Oriental, European, Canadian and Inuit art collectors. The Gallery has a permanent display of works by Victoria’s renowned artist, Emily Carr. Opened in 1951 as a result of Sara Spencer’s donation of the Spencer Mansion, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria offers exhibits of all sorts, year round. Special events are also a prominent feature of the gallery and have been known to include activities from art classes for all levels, to evening jazz concerts.

Craigdarroch Castle

Completed in 1890, Craigdarroch Castle was built by Robert Dunsmuir, a coal baron and the wealthiest and most influential man in British Columbia. The castle’s 39 rooms and 87 steps have served Victoria as the Conservatory of music, our local college, as well as a hospital just after World War I. In 1979, Craigdarroch Castle was opened to the public as the historical site it is today. This is the original castle built by Robert Dunsmuir. At the time of construction Mr. Dunsmuir was the richest man in British Columbia.

Hatley Castle, Museum & Gardens

Once home to Canada’s only Western Military College, it is now home to Royal Roads University. Come walk around the many unique gardens and a large number of 100 year old trees. Built in 1908 by James Dunsmuir this castle is a must see. This was the second castle built by the Dunsmuir family. The first, Craigdarroch Castle was built by James father, Robert Dunsmuir. The grounds are beautifully maintained and feature beautiful Italian, Japanese and Rose Gardens as well as a military museum. The gardens are open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk, year round, admission is by donation. 2005 Sooke Rd., Victoria, BC.

Chinatown

The official entrance into Chinatown is marked by the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest, built in 1981. Highlighted by two stone lions, legend has it that these lions will come to life and roar when an honest politician walks between them. The lions sit quietly today. Although small, Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America. Lined with Chinese restaurants, bakeries and specialty shops, it is a wonderful spot to stop for a dim sum or a full Hong Kong style seafood dinner.

Hidden within the block is Fan Tan Alley, the city’s narrowest street, which at one time housed opium dens, but now houses shops and galleries.

In the early 1800′s more than 16000 migrants arrived to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Merchants set up shop in the area now known as Chinatown. Today’s Chinatown offers visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of an Asian themed market complete with exotic foods and smells, gift shops, and a variety of restaurants.

Royal BC Museum

Considered one of the best Natural History Museums. RBCM has something for everyone. Take a voyage to the depths of the ocean in the Open Ocean exhibit, or see how life really was in the Old Town. Hear the stories of triumph, tragedy and survival of British Columbia’s First Nations. One of Victoria’s must see attractions; this world class museum is home to many exhibits and displays which allow visitors an opportunity to understand what BC was like decades ago.

Exhibits include the natural history gallery which explores the last ice age and showcases a full size woolly mammoth. Other displays include the Open Ocean where visitors can explore the west coast waters by means of a simulated submarine tour. The rich heritage of the First Nations People is also featured through displays of artifacts, potlatch ceremonies and an impressive selection of masks and totems. The Modern History Gallery explores BC history from the 1700′s until the present day, with displays of lumber mills, the gold rush, and the fur trade industry, all of which played a pivotal role in the formation of BC as a province.

The bell tower carillon, a gift from the people of the Netherlands on Canada’s Centennial, marks the corner of the museum at Government and Belleville Streets.

Emily Carr House

The birthplace and home of renowned Victoria artist, Emily Carr. Still decorated as it would have been at Emily’s birth in 1871. Come and enjoy a tour of the house and a stroll through the impressive gardens.

This is the home and birthplace of controversial artist Emily Carr. Carr, who was shunned in her time as being a radical who’s art was often criticized, has now become one of Canada’s most renowned artists.

Carr became known for her vivid life capturing water colours of early BC life. These works featured west coast scenes and images of Early First Nation life that was rarely seen by the average person. Emily Carr House is open 7 days a week from May 21 until October 7. Hours of Operation are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 207 Government St., Victoria, BC