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.
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…
a flash mob of Santas with a lone Bonhomme. This was truly a surprise.
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.
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.
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.
This colourful gingerbread house was on the front desk in the main lobby.
The Empress lit up for Christmas.
This statue shows a returning soldier greeting his young daughter.
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.
The Victoria Harbour with the Parliament Buildings in the background. They were also designed by Francis Rattenbury.
This was the best photo of the reflection, again taken from along the seawall.
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.
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…
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