Travellers, of course, get the inevitable question of where we’re from. If I say we’re from Vancouver Island we often get, “Oh, I went to Vancouver once when I was a kid.” Or they confidently mention that they took a ferry from there over to Victoria Island. Um, yeah, right. Are you confused over Vancouver and Victoria and which island they are on?
Let’s get a little bit clearer on this so you can talk intelligently about my little part of the globe, ok? Just in case we meet up. Or in case you want to make travel plans to beautiful British Columbia.
First off, we’re talking Canada. You know, that really big country (second in size only to Russia). I just want to make sure we’re on the same page here.
British Columbia is on the western coast of Canada, just north of Washington State of the USA. Check out the simplified map so you have an idea what I’m talking about.
If you’re flying internationally to BC you’re more than likely landing in Vancouver. This is our largest city and its located on the mainland, a hub for many flights from Asia, Australia, etc. This is where the Fraser River drains into the Pacific Ocean; where the coastal mountains create a gorgeous backdrop to the city; where Stanley Park green space offers so much beauty to a metropolitan area; and the US Hwy I-5 ends at Peace Arch border.
Back when we were newlyweds Vancouver hosted Expo 86 were I waddled around the grounds, pregnant with our first child. Ever since then part of the Vancouver skyline has been sculpted with the unique globe of Science World. Not too far away is Granville Island where I love to wander amongst the shops, and pick up new eats to try. There’s the sea wall to enjoy at Stanley Park, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, ski hills in the winter that are great for hiking and mountain biking in the off-season. So much to see and do here. And when the weather agrees, its the most beautiful city in the world!
Victoria’s on Vancouver Island
There are plenty of islands off the west coast of North America, the largest being Vancouver Island. The Strait of Georgia (aka the Georgia Striat) separates Vancouver Island from both the BC mainland coast and the extreme northern Washington USA coastline. Vancouver Island is about 240 km (150 miles) in length, and its width varies from 20 to 58 kms wide (12-36 miles). Victoria is our provincial capital, situated amongst craggy rocks on the southern tip of the island. With plenty of green space and ocean access Victoria is known for outdoor activities. It was a British colonial town…it still proudly expresses that flair in its architecture, a smattering of castles and pubs along with horse drawn carriages.
Part of the fun of Victoria is getting here! There is the international airport north of the city. There’s the sea planes and helicopters providing service between the Victoria and Vancouver harbours. There’s BC ferries between the mainland and the island, along with the Victoria Clipper and Black Ball Ferry connecting to Washington state.
Where We’re From
I (Karen) tell people I’m from Vancouver originally although I really grew up in the suburbs. I was actually born in the original capital city of BC which was New Westminster! Now referred to as the Royal City, New Westminster is the oldest city in western Canada. In 1859, the Royal Engineers arrived from England to establish the first capital of the new colony of British Columbia. The site of the first capital was selected both for its beauty and strategic location on the Fraser River. Anyways, these ‘burbs are where I spent my childhood.
Everette spent much of his childhood on Vancouver Island and then later in northern BC. We’ve now spent most of our married life on this island, have birthed 7 of our kids here, and have considered Sooke our home since 2010.
We nevertheless tell people we’re from Victoria since nobody seems to know where Sooke is! Besides, we’re included in the CRD (Capital Regional District) so its not like we’re stretching the truth.
Clearer than Mud
So I hope that’s all getting clearer for you. Simply put…
Victoria is our capital city located on the south end of Vancouver Island.
Vancouver is our major city but its on the mainland, NOT on Vancouver Island.
Are you confused over Vancouver and Victoria any more?
Just One More
Canada has one more Victoria to confuse the whole thing. A Victoria Island in the Arctic. We’ve never been there…I doubt many have. Its not currently on our radar. But who knows, maybe someday when we actually head to Nunavut and the NWT (North West Territories) we might make a jaunt over there.
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