The Scout Guide to Victoria

Mapping out all the delicious and wonderful things to eat, drink and do in the provincial capital right now.
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The Scout Guide to Victoria

Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia. It is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island and is typically accessed from Vancouver by ferry (BC Ferries, disembarking from Tsawwassen). The town proper has a population of 85,000 people but when its surrounding satellite communities are taken into account it is home to almost 400,000. Founded in the middle of the 19th century at the height of the British Empire’s colonial reach, Victoria (after the Queen of the same name) still retains a patina of that bygone imperial age through its architecture, its Anglocentric high streets, and the way in which it marketed itself – for the entirety of its incorporated existence – as a beautiful, Eden-like last bastion of Britishism; a place where cable knit sweaters and convertible MGs went together like peanut butter and jam for retirees who prefer Earl Grey and crustless cucumber sandwiches. It has largely – oh so thankfully – evolved beyond this constructed image to become a far more interesting place to both live and visit. The one thing that hasn’t changed in recent years is the weather: Victoria gets less than one third as much rain as Vancouver does between March and September, so its Springs and Summers are downright glorious. Check it out (again) as soon as you can, and let Scout be your guide…

THINGS WE’VE SEEN HEREABOUTS

  • Victoria development
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  • Croque Madame | Brunch at Agrius | Victoria
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  • Out of the rain and in to Miniature World. #thisisvic #victoriabc #supertinyplasticpeople
  • victoria winter trees
  • victoria chinatown in may 211
  • Beacon Hill Drive In, summer, Victoria
  • Brasserie L'Ecole in Victoria
  • Sixside | new secret skatepark slated for Victoria
  • Superior Beverage - Habit Victoria
  • Mole - Victoria
  • Ulla, Victoria
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  • Sweet potato doughnut | Part and Parcel | Victoria
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  • Dallas Road sunset walkabout #Victoria
  • Victoria Chinatown
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  • Agrius | Victoria
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  • Ulla, Victoria
  • Downtown Victoria
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  • Farro & squash risotto, lacinato kale, fried egg, parsley | Part and Parcel | Victoria
  • Victoria Street Scene
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  • Pow! The Marina in Victoria
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  • Victoria, ogden point beach
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  • The Breakwater | Ogden Point | Victoria
  • Part and Parcel | Victoria
  • VictoriaSpiritsBottles
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  • Breakwater sunset in Victoria
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  • Cake at Ruth and Dean | Victoria
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THE COLOUR PALETTE

The two blues on the funnel of BC Ferries’ Coastal Celebration vessel; the brick interior of Habit Coffee; Hermann’s Dark Lager; thirsty August grass of Beacon Hill Park; smooth pebbles of Mile Zero (three greys); purple and orange starfishes; the green of Pagliacci’s exterior in Victoria; hair of the wooly mammoth inside the Royal BC Museum; six shades of a winter storm from Clover Point; red of London-style double decker buses; the stunning sand of Savary Island’s better beaches; the light blue of Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria; tri-colour of the Grand Central Building on Lower Johnson Street; the copper green dome of the provincial legislature.

THINGS TO CHECK OUT

Thirsty rocks on the beach at Mile Zero | Photo: Michelle Sproule

Summer basking on Whiffin Spit.
The wide sweep on Gonzalez Beach.
Explore the grounds of Fort Rod Hill.
Deer and dead dignitaries at Ross Bay Cemetary.
Bike the Galloping Goose Trail to Swan Lake.
Wander the Royal BC Museum.
Squeeze through Fan Tan Alley.
Shop local beer and booze at Vessel.
Hike up Mt. Doug.
Open mic Hootenanny shows at Logan’s Pub.
Beachcombing at Mile Zero.
Walk the breakwater at Ogden Point.
Bargain hunt at Value Village and Lower Johnson St.
Crate dig at Ditch Records.
Enjoy the bibliophile’s dream that is Munro’s Books.

ESSENTIAL FOOD & DRINK

Slices of deliciousness at Hank’s on Douglas St. | Photo: Michelle Sproule
CHOCOLATE DIPPED CONE FROM BEACON HILL DRIVE-IN 126 Douglas St. MAP
PROPER PIZZA FROM PRIMASTRADA 230 Cook St. MAP
SCONES & COFFEE AT PARSONAGE CAFE 1115 N Park St. MAP
BURGERS & SHAKES AT BIG WHEEL 341 Cook St. MAP
ESPRESSO STOUT AT HOYNE BREWING CO. 101-2740 Bridge St MAP
FIRST RATE COFFEE (+HANGOUTS) AT HABIT 552 Pandora Ave. MAP
ALL THE CAKE AT RUTH & DEAN 1310 Douglas St. MAP
SPAGHETTI AGLIO OLIO AT ZAMBRI’S 820 Yates St. MAP
TASTING MENU AT AGRIUS BY FOL EPI 732 Yates Street MAP
FISH TACOS AT TACOFINO 787 Fort St. MAP
DEVILS ON HORSEBACK AT CLARKE & CO. 1002 Blanshard St. MAP
OLD SCHOOL BREAKFASTS AT THE BLUE FOX 919 Fort St. MAP
TEMPURA FISH & CHIPS AT RED FISH BLUE FISH 1006 Wharf St. MAP
DEALER'S CHOICE COCKTAILS AT LITTLE JUMBO 506 Fort St. MAP
EVERYTHING & ANYTHING AT HANK'S 1001 Douglas St. MAP
MOROCCAN FRIES AT PART & PARCEL 2656 Quadra St. MAP
FALAFEL & BABA GANOUSH AT SUPERBABA 1325 Blanshard St. MAP
MOLE BURRITOS AT LA TAQUERIA 766 Fort St. MAP
STEAK FRITES AT BRASSERIE L'ECOLE 1715 Government St. MAP
SOUP & BREAD AT PAGLIACCI'S 1011 Broad St. MAP
WHATEVER YOUR SERVER RECOMMENDS AT NOURISH 225 Quebec St. MAP
LOCAL, SEASONAL EXCELLENCE AT OLO 509 Fisgard St. MAP
CHURROS AT CHORIZO & CO. 807 Fort St. MAP
FRIED AVOCADO TACOS AT TACO JUSTICE (FOOD TRUCK) 1580 Cook St. MAP
BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN & KIMCHI BAO AT BAO 626 Fisgard St. MAP
LOCAL BEER & RIBS AT THE DRAKE 517 Pandora Ave. MAP
POUTINE & SQUID AT NORTHERN QUARTER 1724 Douglas St. MAP

Pick your THREE essential Victoria food experiences

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HOW TO GET THERE

View from the Queen of Something, BC Ferries | Photo: Michelle Sproule

BEST OPTION: BC FERRIES (HAS TRIPLE “O” BURGERS!)
THE NEW HARBOUR-TO-HARBOUR V2V EMPRESS
TAKE IT ALL IN FROM ON HIGH IN A FLOATPLANE
FULL-ON AWESOMENESS OF A HELICOPTER
RIDE THE VINTAGE COHO (FROM PORT ANGELES, WA)

FASCINATING THINGS OF NOTE

Stepping up from the Beach near Ogden Point | Photo: Michelle Sproule

Historic Duck’s Block on Broad Street, built in 1892 for Simeon Duck, successful early local entrepreneur, MLA, and former Minister of Finance, was once home to a high-class brothel (1900-1912) run by Stella Carroll a madam originally from San Francisco.

In 1892 a young English architect named Francis Rattenbury won the competition to design the BC Legislature Buildings. He later went on to design numerous iconic buildings in the province including the majestic Empress Hotel in Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the Vancouver Court House (now the Art Gallery) in 1911.

Victoria’s is the first and oldest Chinatown in Canada and second oldest in North America after San Francisco. It also boasts the narrowest street in Canada – Fan Tan Alley – less than a metre wide at its narrowest point.

Victoria is the birthplace of the Raging Grannies movement; they celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2017. The “Grannies” are a politically conscious activist group of older women who use humour, costume, satirical songs and skits to highlight its causes.

Number of cups of tea served annually at The Fairmont Empress Hotel: 500,000.

Now a convivial (yet haunted) public space, Bastion Square was once home to a Police Barracks, Gaol (Jail), and Gallows (ca.1858-1885). The unclaimed bodies of prisoners who died there are still buried beneath the bustling square.

The Supreme Court Building (1889) is home to North America’s oldest still operating birdcage elevator. Installed in 1899, the elevator was ranked No. 2 in National Geographic’s Top 10 Elevator Rides in the World.

Six Mile Pub on Old Island Hwy at Six Mile Rd. has the distinction of being the oldest pub in B.C. This original tavern of the Parsons Bridge Hotel opened in 1855.

One of the most infamous Cetaceans in the world, Tilikum, the orca whale featured in the documentary Blackfish, once called Victoria’s now-defunct Sealand home.

Known as the “City of Gardens”, Victoria is home to the annual Flower Count, a light-hearted promotion sponsored and organized by The Butchart Gardens and Tourism Victoria.

The oldest building in Victoria is St. Ann’s schoolhouse built in the 1840s by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

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There are 7 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. I travel to Victoria regularly on business. My favourite foodie haunts include Prima Strada for pizza, Spinnakers, Crust Bakery (chocolate cronuts), Fol Epi, Fish Hook (best chowder and great flatbreads featuring Ocean Wise seafood), Be Love (gourmet vegetarian superfood), Picnic (soup/sandwich), Redfish Bluefish, Caffe Fantastico, and Bard And Banker mostly for just looking so good. And my ultimate indulgence is the maple soft ice cream dipped in dark chocolate at Chocolats Favoris.

  2. Cold Comfort Creamery << BEST ice-cream
    Bubby's Kitchen Cook St Village
    Crust Bakery
    Discovery Coffee
    Unsworth Winery + Ampersand Distillery (both 30min outside city)

  3. Really appreciate the underrepresented Victoria love. Some amazing things happening in the food scene here in the capital!
    However, how could you forget about “10 Acres”?! They literally own the farm in “Farm-to-table”. I can’t think of a single other restaurant in BC that has their own farm supply their restaurant(s).
    Thank for the love!

  4. Hi Simon. Regarding 10 Acres, for some reason I was under the impression that they were going through a kitchen team changeover (or something along those lines) on one of my last visits so I didn’t eat there on my last few visits (I’m frequently on the Island). I’ll get back soon. We like to keep these guides fresh!

  5. Do you have any recommendations on where to say? I always have trouble identifying a reasonable place to stay within walking distance of the good stuff.

  6. I grew up in James Bay just behind the BC Legislature so I’m always partial to staying in that area, which is right next to downtown. Check out The Oswego or the James Bay Inn.

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