The Spanish and British began exploring the area in the late 1700’s, with Spanish sailors visiting the harbour area in the 1790’s. Fort Victoria was founded in 1843 as a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and, in 1849, this sleepy little outpost grew to become the capital of the British Crown's Colony of Vancouver Island, in the days prior to Canadian confederation. The Chief Factor of Fort Victoria, Sir James Douglas, was made governor of the colony, and he would be a leading figure in this area until his retirement in 1864.
The Hudson's Bay Company first established a fort in Victoria in 1843, naming the fort after the reigning British Queen, Victoria. Fort Victoria was built just above the waterfront at Fort Street, with present day Bastion Square being the parade grounds inside the fort. This historic hub of our wonderful city is also the site of the city’s first jail and provincial courthouse, which was built in 1889. Visit the Maritime Museum and see this fabulous old building where famous judge Matthew Begbie, known as ‘the Hanging Judge’ ,held court.
With the discovery of gold in 1858, Victoria became the supply base for miners on their way to the Fraser Canyon gold fields. Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862. The Royal Navy chose the area as their western base in 1865, and it remains Canada's west coast naval base to this day. Victoria became the provincial capital for British Columbia when the province joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871.
Visitors enjoy walking the historic and architecturally interesting streets of the Victoria’s Old Town. Guided walking tours and relaxing, horse-drawn carriage rides are available to help make the most of a tour. Look at the tours available through John Adams or Danda Humphreys, two very knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides who also write extensively on the historical significance of our city's early characters and buildings.