Motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Splendor without diminishment)
Flower: Pacific Dogwood
The capital of British Columbia, the City of Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 100 km south of Vancouver. Occupying a peninsular site, Victoria is bordered by the Juan de Fuca and Haro straits. In addition, the Olympic Mountains lie to the south, the San Juan Islands to the east, and the fjord-like Saanich Inlet and richly forested Malahat Ridge and Sooke Hills to the west.
Greater Victoria lies within the Capital Regional District (CRD), a federation comprising the following incorporated areas: the cities of Victoria, Colwood and Langford; the towns of Sidney and View Royal; and the municipalities of Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sooke, Metchosin and Highlands. The CRD also includes the electoral areas of Juan de Fuca, the Southern Gulf Islands and Saltspring Island. The population of Greater Victoria is 345,615 (2011) the population of the CRD is 359,991.
Compared with other large Canadian cities, Victoria's metropolitan area population is older and more strongly of British origin, despite the infusion of other ethnic groups over the last 50 years. In 2011, it had the highest proportion of residents over the age of 80 among all Canadian metropolitan areas. Similarly, among Canadian municipalities, Sidney, a town included in the metropolitan region of Victoria, had the third highest percentage of residents over the age of 65. The median age of Victoria City residents was 41.9, compared to 40.6 for the nation. Finally, between 2006 and 2011, the city’s population grew by 2.5 per cent, less than the national average of 5.9 per cent growth.
Demographic trends in Victoria City and its so-called bedroom communities show marked differences. For example, between 2006 and 2011, nearby Langford grew by over 30 per cent. In Langford, the median age was 37.5, and the number of children under 15 years of age increased by 21 per cent. In contrast, Victoria’s cohort of residents from 0 to 14 years of age declined by over five per cent.
In 2011, the mother tongue of Victorians was overwhelmingly English (84 per cent), followed by German, Chinese and Punjabi. In addition, 12 per cent of city residents were members of a visible minority, the most prominent being Chinese and South Asian people. Aboriginal peoples comprised just over four per cent of the population, the largest groups being the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, and the Tsawout and Tsartlip on the Saanich Peninsula.
Economy and Labour Force
The prominence of government and tourism in Victoria's economy means a high proportion of the labour force being engaged in public administration, personal services and retail trade. Victoria's isolation from major mainland markets has discouraged manufacturing. Some industries have shifted to the mainland in recent years, but others, particularly in the research and development of high technology, have moved into the area.
Ferry connections with the mainland have always been of the utmost importance to Victorians. The Canadian Pacific Railway steamship service from Vancouver to Victoria was replaced in 1960 by the provincially owned BC Ferries operating from Swartz Bay, north of Victoria, to Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver. BC Ferries, which is headquartered in Victoria, has operated independently of the provincial government since 2003. Other motor vehicle conveyances are the Washington State Ferries from Sidney to Anacortes and Black Ball ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. There is also a passenger-only high-speed catamaran service from Victoria to Seattle.
Air transportation further mitigates geographic isolation of island life through Victoria International Airport, located 22 km north of the city, while seaplanes provide regular service from mainland points to Victoria Harbour. As a shipping port, Victoria has declined in importance, but as a maritime destination, it has grown substantially, with more than 100 luxurious cruise ships visiting its Ogden Point pier every year. Local shipyards have expanded to refit these large vessels. The shipyards anticipate considerable work on federal government contracts for new coast guard vessels.
Victoria is well endowed with educational and fine arts institutions. The University of Victoria (founded in 1963) grew out of Victoria College (1903), which was originally affiliated with McGill University and subsequently with the University of British Columbia. Other institutions include the Victoria Conservatory of Music (1964) and Camosun College (1971). In 1995, the former Royal Roads Military College was restructured as Royal Roads University. One of Canada's first private for-profit universities, University Canada West, operated in the city from 2005 to 2011.
The Royal British Columbia Museum and Butchart Gardens, which lies 20 km northwest of the city, are leading attractions for visitors. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Opera Victoria and annual music and dramatic festivals have enhanced the city's reputation in the arts. Canada's first artificial ice rink was built in Victoria in 1911 (see Sports Facilities). Since then, from time to time, the city has supported professional hockey, along with pro and semi-pro baseball and lacrosse. Victoria played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1994 and the annual Royal Victoria Marathon (1979) is one of the premier competitions in Canada.