Victoria Harbour and The Fairmont Empress Hotel at Christmas

January 27, 2012 — 8 Comments

For the past three years, I have visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada during December. Not only were the downtown streets and shops elegantly decorated, the grand buildings including The Fairmont Empress Hotel and The Parliament Buildings were as well. For this post, I’ll include photos from all three trips with a Christmas theme featuring the harbour and The Empress. Located on Southeast Vancouver Island, Victoria was named for Queen Victoria, and is the capital of British Columbia. It’s one of Canada’s oldest cities and in 2012, celebrated its 150th anniversary.

From the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, just south of Vancouver, BC Ferries, normally operate sailings every one or two hours, depending on the day. The trip to Vancouver Island takes about 90 minutes. I took this photo from a very chilly deck while crossing between the Southern Gulf Islands. This ferry serviced the Gulf Islands.

Photo of a British Columbia ferry, bright blue water, cloudy sky, Gulf Islands


The Fairmont Empress Hotel from the southwest gate as the sun began to set. Please excuse the idiot standing there (hey, that’s me), but I don’t have any photos of just the hotel. The Empress is one of the grand hotels designed by Francis Rattenbury, and opened in 1908 by Canadian Pacific Hotels. Outside the Empress, you may notice…

Photo of The Empress Hotel, setting sun, blue sky, Randall St. Germain, Victoria, B.C.


a flash mob of Santas with a lone Bonhomme. This was truly a surprise.

Photo of a large group of Santa Claus, Posing in front of The Empress, Victoria, B.C.


This beautiful arbutus tree was located next to the driveway off the northwest corner of The Empress. Did you know that another name for the arbutus is madrone? It’s Spanish for strawberry tree. In British Columbia, the arbutus is generally found in small areas on the mainland along the South Coast, on the Gulf Islands, and on the eastern side of Vancouver Island. The Province of British Columbia has an informative arbutus page.

Photo of green leaves, peeling brown bark, blue sky, TheEmpress, Victoria in the background


Across Humbolt Street from the arbutus tree, is one of my favourite places to eat, The Oyster Bar. Everyday between 5 and 6pm, they have Buck-a-Shuck for their featured oyster.

Photo of a tray of fresh raw oysters, lemon, The Oyster, Victoria, B.C.


Inside the main lobby of The Empress Hotel is the giant Christmas tree, almost two stories high. On the second floor, and through much of the main hallway, were numerous other Christmas trees decorated by various businesses and organizations.

Total of a large Christmas tree, main lobby of the Empress, Victoria, B.C.


This colourful gingerbread house was on the front desk in the main lobby.

Photo of a colorful gingerbread house with orange birds and chocolate, Empress, Victoria, B.C.


The Empress lit up for Christmas.

Photo of The Empress Hotel, with Christmas lights, Victoria, B.C.


This statue shows a returning soldier greeting his young daughter.

Photo of statute of Soldier and daughter, Parliament buildings behind, Victoria, B.C


The Hotel Grand Pacific and the Victoria Harbour, taken from along the seawall, across Government Street from The Empress. I never had a tripod for these harbour photos but did my best.

Photo of the Victoria Harbour at night, boats, reflection of the Hotel Grand Pacific on the water, Victoria, B.C


The Victoria Harbour with the Parliament Buildings in the background. They were also designed by Francis Rattenbury.

Photo of the Victoria Harbour at night, boats, reflection of the Parliament buildings on the water, Victoria, B.C


This was the best photo of the reflection, again taken from along the seawall.

Photo of the Victoria Harbour at night, boats, reflection of the Parliament buildings on the water, Victoria, B.C


For the past thirteen years, The Island Equipment Owners Association (IEOA) has held a truck parade and food drive on the first Saturday in December. If you haven’t seen a Christmas truck parade before, here are two videos, filmed in 2010 from the sidewalk along Government Street, outside the front of The Empress.


I hope you enjoyed the photos from my Christmas visits to Victoria.

Photo of a glass candle holder, red candle, window looking outside, Victoria, B.C

I look forward to my next Christmas trip to Victoria. Speaking of Christmas, may I make a suggestion for a gift?  It doesn’t even have to be for Christmas…

My book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.


8 responses to Victoria Harbour and The Fairmont Empress Hotel at Christmas

  1. What a lovely way to spend your time in December. You are a fortunate soul to see such beauty. I have experienced the Fairmont in Banff and Lake Louise during summer hockey camps with my son. They are truly amazing and beautiful hotels. I also thought those areas were two of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. Haven’t experience Vancouver though…one day. : )

  2. Thanks Gayle. My Christmas trips to Victoria were special. You saw beauty too in the Rockies, one of my favorite places. Soon, I’ll have more posts on the Canadian Rockies with one featuring the Banff Springs Hotel. I’m glad we connected here and on social media. I’ll keep in touch.

  3. Looks gorgeous! I am crazy for well done Christmas decorating – another place to visit for Christmas. Love the flash mob! Great photos again.

    • Thanks Anita. The interior of The Empress is very well done at Christmas. We easily spend a few hours looking around every time we go. The flash mob was unexpected and we were lucky we had been passing by at that moment.

  4. Glad I happened onto this great post. With or without a tripod your photos are outstanding. What a way to spend Christmas. I hope your Christmas this year is especially nice. You deserve it.
    BTW, I was touched by your tribute to your Mom in your book. Not to worry; she’s with you.
    Best wishes.

    • Thanks Marie. I don’t think I’ll get back to Victoria this year but still plan to enjoy the holidays close to home. Yes, my mom is still with me.

  5. Hello , thank you for the beauty you are sharing , I lived in Banff as a child & have resided in Victoria , B C for past 25 years , due to illness haven’t been able to get downtown to The Empress Hotel with guests I had staying with me (they have gone on to Prince Albert ) so will sent this off to them , I wish they could see the inside & have a vote on The Christmas Trees that are decked out yearly , it is very ” MAGICAL ” inside as well ,
    Your photos depict exactly what is here , you have captured it extremely well !

    • Thanks so much. I was just at The Empress on the 26th for another walk through the halls and admiring the beautiful trees. The harbour and downtown area was beautiful too. Can’t wait to return to Victoria 🙂

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