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December 10, 2014

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Crowds gather to watch a canoe race in the Inner Harbour put on by the Songhees First Nations.

Looking back on British Columbia's capital

Inhabited for thousands of years by First Nations peoples, the modern city of Victoria was founded in 1843 as a Hudson's Bay Company trading post. In the 1850s and 1860s the population of Victoria exploded in response to the Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes. Soon the city was a thriving port and staging point for prospecting expeditions into B.C.'s largely unexplored interior. For decades after Victoria remained the centre of the region's growing European population until it was surpassed by Vancouver in population and commercial importance (but not in political importance) at the turn of the 20th Century.

>The Inner Harbour in the midst of its growth spurt in the 1860s. Can you spot the one matching building? In the foreground are the homes of the Songhees people. Today a Delta Hotel stands where the reserve once was.

The Dominion Hotel on Yates and Blanshard was expanded several times between the 1890s and the 1910s.

Douglas Street. The building on the left was known as Kellog's Grocery. Today it is a Mac's.

Vancouver Archives

Anxious crowds in the Inner Harbour await a troopship bringing Canadian soldiers back from the First World War. "Well done boys," seems like a criminal understatement for what they've just been through.

Anxious crowds in the Inner Harbour await a troopship bringing Canadian soldiers back from the First World War. "Well done boys," seems like a criminal understatement for what they've just been through.

It's debatable whether the Shopper's Drug Mart and the building on the corner are improvements over the previous building.

Elephants march down Douglas outside City Hall. This was when the W.W. Cole Circus paid a visit to Victoria.

A train passes in front of Victoria's Masonic Hall.

Two men converse outside today's Maritime Museum. One is chomping on a cigar.

The Bard and Banker on Government Street.

The entrance to Bastion Square, the site of the first Hudson's Bay Company fort built in the 1840s.

The building housing Mountain Equipment Co-op has been toned down a bit.

Vancouver Archives

The Legislature as seen from across the Inner Harbour. The land on the left, which had previously been a bay popular with the First Nations for clam-digging, had just been filled in.

The Post Office at Wharf and Government has been replaced.

The men governing the young province on the steps of the Legislature.

Government Street looking north from Fort.

Vancouver Archives

was really hoping I could find one of these buildings for this shot but none of them apparently survive. Nonetheless I am reasonably confident this is the right spot because it was the only place along Government Street where the slope of the road lined up.

The War Memorial in the 1930s. Very soon more dates would be added.

The building at the foot of Yates on Wharf Street.

Vancouver Archives

The Empress, Victoria's best known landmark, under construction.

Vancouver Archives

And here again a few years later.

These photos courtesy of James Hutcheson of Victoria

Some German field guns captured in the First World War were on display outside the Legislature in Victoria. In the darkest days of World War II they were melted down to support the war effort against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Vancouver Archives

Swans in a pond in Beacon Hill Park at the turn of the last century.

Vancouver Archives

Craigdarroch Castle. Built by a wealthy coal baron in the 1890s, the Craigdarroch Castle is an excellent example of Victorian architecture.



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