Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria (IPA: /vɪk.toʊɹ.i.ə/) is the capital city of British Columbia, the westernmost Canadian province. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is a global tourism destination seeing more than 3.65 million visitors a year who inject more than one billion dollars into the local economy. Victoria is a cruise ship port where cruise liners stop at Ogden Point terminal. The city also receives economic benefits from its close proximity to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, the Canadian military's main Pacific naval base. Downtown Victoria also serves as Greater Victoria's regional downtown, where many night clubs, theatres, restaurants and pubs are clustered, and where much larger regional public events occur. In particular, Canada Day fireworks displays and Symphony Splash concerts draw tens of thousands of Greater Victorians and visitors to the downtown core.
The city has hosted various sports events including the 2005 Ford World Men's Curling Championship tournament, the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and 2006 Skate Canada. Victoria also co-hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup at Royal Athletic Park.

Location and population
The city's chief industries are tourism, education, federal and provincial government administration and services. Other nearby employers include the Canadian Forces (the Township of Esquimalt is the home of the Pacific headquarters of the Canadian Forces Maritime Command), and the University of Victoria (located in the municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich). Other sectors of the Greater Victoria area economy include: investment and banking, online book publishing, various public and private schools, foodstuff manufacturing, light aircraft manufacturing (Viking Air), technology products, various high tech firms in pharmaceuticals and computers, engineering, architecture and telecommunications. A large West Corporation call centre is also located in the region (Saanichton), along with call centres of other corporations. Maximus Inc. and EDS corporations operate call centres after winning contracts to administer and operate Medical Services Plan services, formerly run directly by the British Columbia provincial government. Elections BC, an independent agency of the BC Legislature, operates a temporary call centre from Victoria whenever there is a BC provincial general election or by-election.
Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC) is an umbrella organization, partnership between industry and education, promoting high tech industry development in the Victoria region. VIATeC members include Abebooks.
The May 24, 2007 edition of the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper reported that for the first time in Victoria history, high technology has over taken tourism as the top performing economic sector in Greater Victoria. A gala awards event was staged at the Victoria Conference Centre for business executives and companies that achieved excellence in their respective fields.
The Victoria Region is experiencing a booming real estate economy. The labour shortages and high cost of housing seem to mirror the economic trends of other booming Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

The Port of Victoria consists of three parts, the Outer Harbour, used by deep sea vessels, the Inner and Upper Harbours, used by coastal and industrial traffic. It is protected by a breakwater with deep and wide opening. The port is a working harbour, tourist attraction and cruise destination. Esquimalt is also a well-protected harbour with large graving dock and shipbuilding and repair facilities.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the late 1700s, the Victoria area was home to several communities of Coast Salish peoples, including the Songhees. The Spanish and British took up the exploration of the northwest coast of North America beginning with the voyage of Captain James Cook in 1776, although the Victoria area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca was not penetrated until 1791. Spanish sailors visited Esquimalt Harbour (within the modern Capital Regional District) in 1790 and again in 1792. Erected in 1843 as a Hudson's Bay Company trading post on a site orginially called Camosun (the native word was "camosack", meaning "rush of water") and known briefly as "Fort Albert", the settlement was later christened Fort Victoria, in honour of the Queen. The opponents of amalgamation state that separate governance affords residents a greater deal of local autonomy. The proponents of amalgamation argue that it would reduce duplication of services, while allowing for more efficient use of resources and the ability to better handle broad, regional issues and long-term planning.

Victoria has a temperate climate that is usually classified as Marine west coast(Cfb),
Daily temperatures rise above 30°C (86°F) on an average of one or two days per year and fall below -5°C (23°F) on an average of only 2 nights per year. During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8.2°C (47°F) and 3.6°C (38°F), respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 19.6°C (67°F) and low of 11.3°C (52°F). Victoria does occasionally experience more extreme temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded in Victoria was 36.3°C (97.3°F) on July 11, 2007, while the coldest temperature on record was -15.6°C (4°F) on December 29, 1968 and January 28, 1950. Victoria has not recorded a temperature below -10°C (14°F) since 1990.
Total annual precipitation is just 608 mm (24in) at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria, contrasted to nearby Seattle, (137 km/85 miles away to the southeast), with 970mm (38in) of rainfall, or Vancouver, 100 km away, with 1,219 mm (48 in) of rainfall. Perhaps even more dramatic is the difference in rainfalls on Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew, just 80 km from Victoria on the wet southwest coast of Vancouver Island receives 3,671 mm (145 in). Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper. One of the most striking features of Victoria's climate is the distinct dry and rainy seasons. Nearly two thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February. Precipitation in December, the wettest month (109 mm/4 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm/.5 in). During the summer months, Victoria is the driest major city in Canada.
Victoria averages just 26 cm (10 in) of snow annually. Every few decades, Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the more than 100 cm (39 in) of snow that fell in December 1996. On the other hand, roughly one third of winters will see virtually no snow, with less than 5 cm (2 in) falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just 2-3 days per year with at least 5 cm (2 in) of snow on the ground.
The rain shadow effect also means that Victoria gets more sunshine than surrounding areas. With 2,223 hours of sun annually, Victoria is one of the sunniest places in British Columbia, and gets more sunshine than most other cities in Canada except those in the southern Prairies. The benefits of Victoria's climate are evident through the city's gardens, which are more likely to display drought-tolerant oak trees, eucalyptus, arbutus, and even bananas, than they are likely to feature evergreen conifers, which are typically associated with the coastal Pacific Northwest environment.

Victoria's equable climate has also added to its reputation as the "City of Gardens". With its mild temperatures and plentiful sunshine, Victoria boasts gardens that are home to many plant species rarely found elsewhere in Canada. Several species of palms, eucalyptus, and even certain varieties of bananas can be seen growing throughout the area's gardens. The city takes pride in the many flowers that bloom during the winter and early spring, including crocuses, daffodils, early-blooming rhododendrons, cherry and plum trees. Every February there is an annual "flower count" in what for the rest of the country and most of the province is still the dead of winter.
Due to its Mediterranean-type climate, Victoria and its surrounding area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast) is also home to many rare, native plants found nowhere else in Canada, including Quercus garryana (Garry oak), Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita), and Canada's only broad leaf evergreen tree, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone). Many of these endangered species exist here at the northern end of their range, and are found as far south as Central and Southern California, and even parts of Mexico.

The landscape of Victoria was molded by water in various forms. Pleistocene glaciation put the area under a thick ice cover, the weight of which depressed the land below present sea level. These glaciers also deposited stony sandy loam till. As they retreated, their melt water left thick deposits of sand and gravel. Marine clay settled on what would later become dry land. Post-glacial rebound exposed the present-day terrain to air, raising beach and mud deposits well above sea level. The resulting soils are highly variable in texture, and abrupt textural changes are common. In general, clays are most likely to be encountered in the northern part of town and in depressions. The southern part has coarse-textured subsoils and loamy topsoils. Sandy loams and loamy sands are common in the eastern part adjoining Oak Bay. Victoria's soils are relatively unleached and less acidic than soils elsewhere on the British Columbia coast. Their thick dark topsoils denoted a high level of fertility which made them valuable for farming until urbanization took over.

Physiography and soils
The following is a list of neighbourhoods in the City of Victoria, as defined by the city planning department. For a list of neighbourhoods in other area municipalities, see Greater Victoria, or the individual entries for those municipalities.
Other city districts often regarded as neighbourhoods include:

James Bay
Harris Green
North Jubilee
North Park
South Jubilee
Victoria West
Rock Bay
Oak Bay Border
Selkirk Neighbourhoods of Victoria
Beacon Hill Park is the central city's main urban green space. Its area of 75 hectares adjacent to Victoria's southern shore includes numerous playing fields, manicured gardens, exotic species of plants and animals such as wild peacocks, a petting zoo, and views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountain range. The sport of cricket has been played in Beacon Hill Park since the mid-nineteenth century. Each summer, Beacon Hill Park plays host to several outdoor concerts, and the Luminara Community Lantern Festival.
The extensive system of parks in Victoria also includes a few areas of natural Garry oak meadow habitat, an increasingly scarce ecosystem that once dominated the region.

In the heart of downtown are the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, The Empress Hotel, the gothic Christ Church Cathedral, and the Royal British Columbia Museum, with large exhibits on local Aboriginal peoples, Natural History, Modern History, along with travelling international exhibits. In addition, the heart of downtown also has the Emily Carr House, Royal London Wax Museum, Victoria Bug Zoo, Market Square and the Pacific Undersea Gardens, which showcases marine life of British Columbia. The oldest (and most intact) Chinatown in Canada is located within downtown. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located close to downtown in the Rockland neighbourhood several city blocks from Craigdarroch Castle built by industrialist James Dunsmuir and Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Numerous other buildings of historic importance or interest are also located in central Victoria, including: the 1845 St. Ann's Schoolhouse; the 1852 Helmcken House built for Victoria's first doctor; the 1863 Temple Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Canada; the 1865 Angela College built as Victoria's first Anglican Collegiate School for Girls, now housing retired nuns of the Sisters of St. Ann; the 1871 St. Ann's Academy built as a Catholic school; the 1874 Church of Our Lord, built to house a breakaway congregation from the Anglican Christ Church cathedral; the 1890 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church; the 1890 Metropolitan Methodist Church (now the Victoria Conservatory of Music; the 1892 St. Andrew's Cathedral; and the 1925 Crystal Gardens, originally a saltwater swimming pool, restored as a conservatory and most recently a tourist attraction called the B.C. Experience, which closed down in 2006.
CFB Esquimalt navy base, in the adjacent municipality of Esquimalt, has a base museum dedicated to naval and military history, located in the Naden part of the base.
North of the city on the Saanich Peninsula are the Butchart Gardens, one of the biggest tourist attractions on Vancouver Island, as well as the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, part of the National Research Council of Canada, Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Centre of the Universe planetarium. There are also numerous National Historic Sites in close proximity to Victoria, such as the Fisgard Lighthouse, Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse, Hatley Castle and Hatley Park and Fort Rodd Hill, which is a coastal artillery fort built in the late 1890s, located west of the city in Colwood. Also located west of the city is Western Speedway, a 4/10th-mile oval vehicular race track and the largest in Western Canada.

Tourism and landmarks
The Victoria Symphony, led by Tania Miller, performs at the Royal Theatre and the Farquhar Auditorium of the University of Victoria from September to May. Every BC Day weekend, the Symphony mounts Symphony Splash, an outdoor event that includes a performance by the orchestra sitting on a barge in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Streets in the local area are closed, as each year approximately 40,000 people attend a variety of concerts and events throughout the day. The event culminates with the Symphony's evening concert, with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture as the grand finale, complete with cannon-fire, a pealing carillon and a fireworks display to honour BC Day. Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Philharmonic Choir both stage two or three productions each year at the Macpherson or Royal Theatres.
The Theatrical Arts have had somewhat more difficulty making their mark. The Bastion Theatre, a professional dramatic company, functioned in Victoria through the 1970s and '80s and performed high quality dramatic productions calculated to appeal to a middle-brow audience but ultimately was obliged to declare bankruptcy, Victoria's transient and geriatric population with roots elsewhere in Canada not providing sufficient demand for so expensive a cultural enterprise. Other regional Theatre venues include: Phoenix Theatre student theatre at the University of Victoria.
The only Canadian Forces Primary Reserve brass/reed band on Vancouver Island is located in Victoria. The 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band traces its roots back to 1864, making it the oldest, continually-operational military band west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Its mandate is to support the island's military community by performing at military dinners, parades and ceremonies, and other events. The band performs weekly in August at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site where the Regiment started manning the guns of the fort in 1896, and also performs every year at the Cameron Bandshell at Beacon Hill Park.
The current major sporting and entertainment complex, for Victoria and Vancouver Island Region, is the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena. It replaced the former Victoria Memorial Arena, which was constructed by efforts of World War II veterans as a monument to fallen comrades. World War I, World War II, Korean War, and other conflict veterans are also commemorated. Fallen Canadian soldiers in past, present, and future wars and/or United Nations, NATO missions are noted, or will be noted by the main lobby monument at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre. The arena is the home of the ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League) team, Victoria Salmon Kings, owned by RG Properties Limited, a real estate development firm that built the Victoria Save On Foods Memorial Centre, and Prospera Place Arena in Kelowna.
A number of well-known musicians and bands are from Victoria, including Nelly Furtado, David Foster, Bryce Soderberg, Swollen Members, Armchair Cynics, and Hot Hot Heat. From the film industry, Hollywood director Atom Egoyan was raised in Victoria.

The Victoria International Airport has non-stop flights to and from Toronto, Salt Lake City, Seattle and many cities throughout Western Canada. Multiple scheduled helicopter and seaplane flights are available daily from Victoria's Inner Harbour to Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver Harbour, and Seattle. The BC Ferries Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, located 29 kilometres north of Victoria, has bi-hourly sailings to Tsawwassen (a ferry terminal south of Vancouver) and to many of the Gulf Islands. The Washington State Ferry terminal in Sidney provides ferry service to Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, and ultimately Anacortes, Washington. In Victoria's Inner Harbour, an international ferry terminal provides car ferry service to Port Angeles, Washington, high-speed catamaran service to downtown Seattle, and seasonal passenger ferries to destinations in Washington including Friday Harbor, Port Angeles, and Bellingham. Victoria also serves as the western terminus (Mile Zero) for Canada's Trans-Canada Highway, the longest national highway in the world. The Mile Zero is located in the southern part of the city at the corner of Douglas Street and Dallas Road, where there is a small monument.
Public transportation is run by the Victoria Regional Transit System, which is part of BC Transit. In 2000, they introduced the first double decker buses for public transit use in North America.

The city of Victoria lies entirely within the Greater Victoria School District. There is one high school located within the city boundaries, Victoria High School, founded in 1876, making it the oldest High School in North America north of San Francisco and west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Most of the elementary schools in Victoria now offer the popular French immersion programmes in addition to programs in English. The educational needs of the local francophone community are served by the recently-completed Ecole Victor Brodeur. In addition, within the city proper there are several smaller schools serving segments of the community such as the Chinese School in Chinatown, St. Andrew's Elementary School or the Anglican School adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral. Numerous other private schools are located in the municipalities adjacent to Victoria, including St. Michael's University School, Glenlyon-Norfolk House, St. Patrick's Elementary School, St. Margaret's and Pacific Christian Schools.
The Victoria area has three public post secondary educational institutions: University of Victoria (UVic), Camosun College, Royal Roads University. UVic was once rated the 2nd and 3rd best comprehensive university in all Canada by MacLean's magazine's college/university ratings issue.Notable Canadian politicians like former British Columbia cabinet minister Andrew Petter and Stockwell Day were once students of UVic. Day was the former Canadian Alliance Party leader and currently Public Security Minister in Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada government. There is one international school, in Metchosin Municipality, devoted to the ideals of a united world of peaceful cooperation and coexistence, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. Pearson College is named after former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and architect of the United Nations Peace Keeping program.
There are also several private vocational and English (ESL) training schools available for people who want to learn the English language or upgrade new job market skills. University Canada West is a private degree granting school headed by former UVic President David Strong.

Victoria has four Sister Cities:

Flag of the People's Republic of China Suzhou, People's Republic of China
Flag of Japan Morioka, Japan
Flag of New Zealand Napier, New Zealand
Flag of Russia Khabarovsk, Russia Sister cities

The Victoria Cougars are perhaps the most famous sports franchise the city has known, winning the Stanley Cup as members of the PCHA in 1925. They exist today in the form of a Junior 'B' team playing in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and there was also a team called the Victoria Cougars in the WHL, but are now the Prince George Cougars. Other Victoria sport teams include:
Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL)
Victoria Grizzlies (British Columbia Hockey League)
Victoria Shamrocks (Western Lacrosse Association)
Victoria Rebels (CJFL)
Victoria United (Pacific Coast Soccer League)
Victoria Vikes teams at the University of Victoria
Chargers sports teams of Camosun College Sports teams

Victoria Capitals (Canadian Baseball League) Defunct teams

Former NASCAR driver Rick O'Dell is from the city.
Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, although born in South Africa, grew up in Victoria.
MLB pitcher Rich Harden grew up in Victoria.
Former NHL stars Russ Courtnall and Geoff Courtnall are from the Victoria area.
Lacrosse players Gary Gait and Paul Gait were born and raised in Victoria.
Former field hockey international Deb Whitten was born in Victoria.
NHLer Matt Pettinger was raised in Victoria.
Former NHLer Don Barber
Hockey Hall of Fame member Lynn Patrick Media outlets

Victoria Times-Colonist
Monday Magazine
The Martlet - UVic student newspaper
Black Press
The Nexus - Camosun College student newspaper
LookOut - CFB Esquimalt navy base newspaper Print

AM 900 - CKMO, Camosun College campus radio
AM 1070 - CFAX, news/talk AM radio

FM 88.9 - CBUX, Espace musique
FM 90.5 - CBCV, CBC Radio One
FM 91.3 - CJZN (The Zone @ 91-3), modern rock
FM 92.1 - CBU-2, CBC Radio Two
FM 98.5 - CIOC (Ocean 98.5), soft adult contemporary
FM 100.3 - CKKQ (100.3 The Q!), active rock
FM 101.9 - CFUV, University of Victoria campus radio
FM 103.1 - CHTT (Jack FM), adult hits
FM 107.3 - CHBE (Kool FM), hot adult contemporary Television

List of mayors of Victoria, British Columbia
Canadian cities
Monarchy in British Columbia
School District 61 Greater Victoria

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