The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


Pacific Northwest Part 8 of ? – Victoria, BC’s Chinatown

Almost done sharing info from my trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Good grief I’m behind.

One of my favorite parts of Victoria, BC to poke around was its Chinatown. The oldest in Canada, it’s second in age to only San Francisco’s.  When gold was discovered in B.C’s Fraser  River Canyon in 1858, many folks (about one-third Chinese) came up from CA.  Soon, folks immigrated from China itself. Most were male. The few that made enough money brought over their families.

Born of stick huts, Victoria’s Chinatown rapidly grew into a bustling community of schools, businesses, temples and churches.  A darker side existed in the opium factories, gambling dens and brothels.

1911 was its peak.   A  bit over 3100 people called a six block area home.  To compare, downtown Victoria’s entire population in 2001 was just over 3,000.  A decline in population and size occurred after 1920.

Revitalization efforts have been successful.

At one end, the The Gate of Harmonious Interest greets you. It was built in Suzhou, one of Victoria’s sister cities.

A beautifully detailed mural:

Fan Tan Alley, once a private walkway, now houses retail shops and offices:

Several of Chinatown’s most historic and special places are kept from public view such as the Tam Kung Buddhist Temple.

A Fan Tan Alley doorway:

Colorful stands full of produce and colorful,  imported goods line the street:

This was an interesting part of Victoria to wander about.  Shop owners were friendly (in keeping with my observations of Canadians). I felt comfy and welcomed here and not just a walking wallet.  I’m looking at you, SF’s Chinatown.

A worthy exploration it was!

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Pacific Northwest Part 7 of ? – Victoria, BC! How do I become a Canadian?

After my hike above treeline, I hopped on the Coho Ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC.

Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca  took maybe 1.5 hours. Water was like glass.

Will ferries ever cease to fascinate me?  I think not.

Approaching Victoria from the water reveals much.   A melange of Naval buildings and store-yards, turn of the century brick buildings,  contemporary structures and a picturesque waterfront lined in sidewalks, docks and boats beats arriving by air.

Houseboats in front of the large building:

A fantastically pedestrian-friendly town,  one could easily ferry over to Victoria, sans vehicle, and explore via foot/bus/bike.  Base-camped in a downtown hotel, I didn’t use my vehicle for two days.

A shopping district:

The water-front street being revitalized, I read:

Old next to new:

The stately Fairmont Empress Hotel. Its famous high tea I did not attend.

British Columbia’s Parliament building.  A thorough tour I took. Indoor pics were not so great.  That docent knew her stuff!


A necessary component of  full-city-exploration, a Local Yarn Shop visit, The Beehive Wool Shop:

Boy Howdy!  It’s a good ‘un.  Specifically sleuthing for Canadian yarns, I walked away with a couple.

Look at this pretty – Fleece Artist Trail Socks (merino and nylon, fingering wt.)

Meandered through Beacon Hill Park, a lovely city oasis:

Photogenic Great Blue Heron:

Two FULL days I spent walking about.  An after-dark walk past the harbor glittered and made me stop awhile just to gawk:

The British Columbia Parliament Building:

Victoria…I’d live there in a heartbeat.  From what I gleaned in just two days, people are VERY friendly.  It is Canada, after all.   Being a Midwesterner steeped in “MN nice” I pick up on and appreciate that.  Clean, green (not just in color), aesthetically pleasing, on water, by mountains, much about Victoria appeals to me.

Next post I’ll devote to Victoria’s Chinatown, worthy of its own.