This is an extract from my newest book called
9 Canadian Cities: Victoria to Montreal via Whitehorse and Yellowknife
I found an interesting modern sculpture in the same block as the Victoria Police HQ. To me, the sculpture looks like people either stopping a column falling over or supporting the column. I wondered whether it was a metaphor for the role the police believe they have within society. Along Caledonia Avenue is the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre where the Victoria Royals play Ice Hockey.
Close by is the Gate of Harmonious Interest that marks the entrance to Victoria’s Chinatown, the second oldest in North America after San Francisco. Once a ghetto for newcomers, Chinatown is now a heritage area centred on Fisgard Street with restaurants and lanterns on lamp posts. On one side of this street is Dragon Alley, and on the other the more famous Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada–only ninety centimetres wide at its narrowest. Both are worth investigating for their shops. I went along Fan Tan Alley away from Fisgard Street and arrived on Pandora Avenue. I turned right to look at the Johnson Street bridge, Canada’s largest single-leaf bascule bridge. There have been four bridges spanning the narrows between the Inner Harbour and the Upper Harbour with the latest bridge built between 2013 and 2018. The bridge has a three-lane roadway, a pedestrian walkway on the south side, and a multi-use pathway on the north side.
On the opposite side of Pandora Avenue is the Market Square, a restored 19th-century courtyard surrounded by three floors of heritage shops, restaurants, and offices. Heading towards the Inner Harbour, I came across the galleries and sidewalk restaurants in Bastion Square, and Munro’s books where I found items of interest to buy including a wonderful selection of cards. Soon I was back at the Empress Hotel.
In September 2020, opposite the hotel was a statue of Captain James Cook. Cook was here because he sailed through this area during his round the world voyages. I noted with interest that both Captain Bligh – he of Mutiny on the Bounty fame – and George Vancouver served under Cook during his third and final voyage. Bligh was on HMS Resolution and Vancouver was on HMS Discovery.
In September 2021, Captain Cook was gone.