Victoria: Canada’s Most Perfect City
Situated on the southern edge of the expansive Vancouver Island which is larger than The Netherlands, and closer to the United States mainland than the Canadian, the overwhelmingly magnificent city of Victoria represents all that is wonderous about Canadian urban areas married with an enviable climate in a geographical location which may be one of the most spectacular cityscapes in the world.
Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada and the deep winter freeze which overtakes most of the country rarely touches this marvelous city. While residents in most Canadian cities are still shoveling snow in February, Victorians are gardening. They even hold an annual Flower Count at the end of February which usually results in a number in the billions of blooms!
Victoria is an area of multiple and wildly varying microclimates, thus neighborhoods within the city itself can be experiencing very different weather conditions on the same day. It is not at all unusual to be enjoying bright, beautiful Pacific Northwest sunshine in the moneyed suburbs of Oak Bay while Colwood five miles to the west is being drenched in gray rain. If you look closely at some of the gardens of the lovely homes of Oak Bay, you will see a wide selection of succulent plants which would not be out of place in Albuquerque. You'll also be amazed to find the occasional banana tree leaves peeking up over a fence! In Canada, of all places!
Victoria is Canada’s most steadfast British city and is a celebration of its colourful heritage with historic Victorian architecture and many venues offering the traditional afternoon tea, usually and paradoxically set alongside First Nations totem poles. Tea-rooms around Victoria provide the opportunity to experience the great British tradition of afternoon tea: From grand 19th century hotels with lush gardens to charming one-room establishments, visitors and residents alike can enjoy the time-honored practice of taking tea while marveling at some of the most picturesque views in the city. All you need to do is step out of the astounding decadent traditional British luxury and opulence of the Empress Hotel, one of the original Canadian Pacific properties, and look out onto the Inner Harbor with its expensive yachts bobbing in the gentle waves, and you will realize that there is no city even remotely like Victoria anywhere else on the planet.
Afternoon tea has been a treasured tradition at Victoria’s Butchart Gardens since it opened over a century ago. Jenny Butchart personally welcomed anyone who visited her phenomenal gardens and served tea to all who arrived. Today, afternoon tea starts with fresh fruit and yogurt, individual quiches, sandwiches such as curried chicken mousse, a chocolate flower pot and ginger scone. High tea adds a Cornish pasty, cheese scone and a toasted crumpet, all taken amidst the botanical wonders of the Gardens which have even been duplicated in miniature at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center.
Victoria is truly a city steeped in old fashioned romance. Shop windows throughout Victoria are packed of British imports, Native art as well as the latest trends. The harbour is filled with the romance of an era when tall ships moored alongside the wharf. The usually mild evenings glitter as lights twinkle from the brightly lit landmark British Columbia Legislative Buildings and Victoria residents and visitors stroll in an environment that seems to be on the other side of the world from the rest of Canada.