One of the most distinctive buildings in the city of Victoria is the Parliament Buildings for the province of British Columbia. For those entering Victoria by ferry or boat, the buildings are an impressive sight along the waterfront. The buildings, which were commissioned in 1893, and completed in 1898 are an excellent example of neo-baroque architecture. While the buildings are still in use today for the British Columbia legislative assembly, tours are available, and the buildings themselves are a popular spot for photo opportunities by tourists visiting the city on a day or multi-day trip. But for those looking for a bit more unconventional photo, and to experience what the power (and discomfort) of government feels like, the grounds of these buildings also feature an interesting curiosity, a sculpted replica of the interior Speaker’s Chair.
With over 2,138 miles of coastline, Vancouver Island has a plethora of stunning beaches. The most accessible beach with the greatest scenery and opportunities for serenity and solitude is French Beach. French Beach, and the park it is located in, French Beach Provincial Park are named for James French, a nineteenth century Canadian explorer and pioneer who walked across the entirety of Canada over a two year period. The Provincial Park bearing his name was established in 1974, and encompasses fifty-nine hectares. As the name implies, the signature feature of the park is the beach, which is located near where James French ultimately resided. From the beach, travelers can view the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and on a clear day, can see across it to America, and Olympic National Park.
With its empty sand and rock covered beach expanses, to its eerie old growth forests, and its high mountain peaks, Vancouver Island has a plethora of outdoor locations to visit and experience. The island is also home to two challenging and well-known hiking trails, the West Coast Trail, and the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail that traverse the southwest corner of the island. While worthwhile, both of these trails are lengthy, challenging affairs that require a multi-day time commitment to complete. Fortunately, for all levels of hikers, there is a short trail at the end of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail that allows everyone to experience the epic scenery of Vancouver Island in a short distance and includes a trek through the forest, a suspension bridge, and a stunning beach with caves and a waterfall. That trail, and that destination is the aptly named Mystic Beach.
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, and one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. And, among other unique things, it is the home to the narrowest street in all of Canada, Fan Tan Alley. During the gold rush period of the nineteenth century, Victoria attracted a large number of Chinese immigrants, who formed their own district in the city, an area that is also the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Fan Tan Alley was a narrow street in this area, and an area of ill-repute, full of opium dens, gambling, and various other illicit activities. However, a hundred and sixty some years later, its narrow passageway is known as a tourist mecca, both for people who like strange, narrow streets, and for people who like to explore the history and shops of Victoria. At its narrowest point, the alley is just under four feet wide, and has been featured in a number of movies, including Bird on a Wire.