Population 80,000 (Metro Area: 345,000)
Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress hotel. The city's Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco's. The region's Coast Salish First Nations peoples established communities in the area long before non-native settlement, which had large populations at the time of European exploration. Victoria, like many Vancouver Island communities, continues to have a sizable First Nations presence, composed of peoples from all over Vancouver Island and beyond.
Victoria is Western Canada's oldest city. The City began in 1843 as a Hudson Bay Company trading post, named in honour of Queen Victoria. With the Fraser Valley gold rush in 1858, Victoria grew rapidly as the main port of entry to the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. When the colonies combined, the City became the colonial capital and was established as the provincial capital when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871.
For most of the nineteenth century, Victoria remained the largest city in British Columbia and was the foremost in trade and commerce. However, with construction of the Transcontinental railway, Vancouver, as its terminus, emerged as the major west coast port and the largest city in British Columbia.
In the twentieth century, Victoria evolved primarily as a city of government, retirement and tourism. The City remains, however, Canada's western naval base and home to a major fishing fleet. Ship building and repair, as well as forest products and machine manufacturing industries, continue as significant sources of employment. Increasingly, the city is developing as a marine, forestry and agricultural research centre.