Architectural Jewels Walking Tour, Victoria

Architectural Jewels Walking Tour (Self Guided), Victoria

Victoria is among the most British of cities in North America. It is famous for its green areas and beautiful gardens and parks. There are some outstanding architectural structures that you can visit too. In the tour that follows, take a look at some of the most visited architectural sites in Victoria.
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Architectural Jewels Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Architectural Jewels Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Victoria (See other walking tours in Victoria)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Emily Carr House
  • British Columbia Parliament Buildings
  • Helmcken House
  • St. Ann's Academy
  • Fort Street
  • Craigdarroch Castle
  • Government House
Emily Carr House

1) Emily Carr House (must see)

A National Historic Site of Canada, the Emily Carr House was the childhood home of Canadian painter Emily Carr and had a lasting impression on her paintings and writings.

The house passed through the Carr family for several years, before being sold to a private owner for use as a rental property. The building was extensively modernized following a fire in 1938. In 1964, MP David Groos saved the building from demolition and turned it over to the Emily Carr Foundation three years later, for use as an art gallery and school known as the Emily Carr Arts Centre. In 1976, the provincial government purchased the property and helped return the building to its original condition.

The building was extensively restored by two different architects, undoing many of the additions and modernizations that had been added to the house since the 19th century. It is currently an interpretive centre for Carr's art, writings and life.

Why You Should Visit:
Charming and very nostalgic place that definitely gives you a glimpse into history.
There are many of Carr's writings on display, together with some reproductions of her art.
The gardens are beautifully maintained and there's a small gift shop where good books about her life and her art are available.

Along the way, you may see many fine examples of older Victorian and craftsman style homes, many of them with very nice gardens.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 11am-4pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
British Columbia Parliament Buildings

2) British Columbia Parliament Buildings (must see)

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The Speaker and the Sergeant-At-Arms are amongst those responsible for the legislative precinct, which by statute include the Parliament Buildings and grounds.

The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from The Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver. Free guided tours of the facility are offered year-round.

Why You Should Visit:
The buildings and the surrounding garden knoll is spectacular, both at night and during the day.
Mesmerizing interior with mosaic tiles, painted ceilings, and stellar stain glass windows.
You're able to take a self-walking tour or a guided tour of portions of Parliament.

Make sure you do the indoor tour, as well as the garden tour – both are free!
You can also sign in at the security desk and visit the basement restaurant which is frequented by all the politicians.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:00pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Helmcken House

3) Helmcken House (must see)

Helmcken House is a museum in Victoria, located in Thunderbird Park. It was built by Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, the first doctor in Victoria, in 1852, a surgeon with the Hudson's Bay Company. It claims to be the oldest house in BC still standing at its original site. The building is preserved in its original state, including the interior and some household objects. Some interesting items on display include Helmcken's medical kit. It's open daily and your Royal BC Museum ticket gets you in.

Why You Should Visit:
Quick glimpse into the past that provides some additional insight and history in a different context than that of the Royal Museum.
St. Ann's Academy

4) St. Ann's Academy

St. Ann’s Academy was commissioned by the Roman Catholic women’s order of the Sisters of St. Ann of Lachine, Quebec. The chapel was built in 1858 and is the oldest part of the Academy. The chapel was the original St. Andrew's Cathedral. The chapel was later moved from its original location, encased in brick, and became the ’heart’ of the newly built school of St. Ann’s Academy (1871). In 1886 a Convent was added to the west side of the Academy and behind the Academy (1909). St. Ann’s Academy was an all-girls Catholic school and convent.

The Sisters of St. Ann closed the Academy and in 1974 sold the property to the provincial Department of Public Works (now the BC Buildings Corporation), which used it as office space for the public service for a few years, but it was in need of major repairs and had to be closed.

In the end, with the help of the Provincial Capital Commission, most of the building was gutted and rebuilt, basement to attic, and leased to the province as office space for the Ministry of Advanced Education, a use consistent with the Sisters' aims. The building was re-opened in 1997.

Opening hours:

Winter hours: September - Mid-May: Thursday – Sunday: 1 pm - 4 pm;

Summer hours: Mid-May - Labour Day: Monday – Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Fort Street

5) Fort Street

Fort Street is a very beautiful walking area also known as Antique Row, full of restored old houses. Also, between Blanshard and Linden Avenue you will find a lot of wonderful antique shops, art galleries and specialty homes.
Craigdarroch Castle

6) Craigdarroch Castle (must see)

Craigdarroch Castle is a historic, Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion that was designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its landmark status in Victoria.

Craigdarroch Castle has 39 rooms and over 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). It was constructed in the 1890s as a family residence for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. Robert died in April 1889, more than a year before construction on the castle was completed. The initial architect of the castle, Warren Heywood Williams, also died before completion of the castle.

Craigdarroch Castle is believed to have cost as much as $500,000 when it was built. When originally constructed Craigdarroch stood in grounds comprising 27 acres (110,000 m2) of formal gardens in Victoria's Rockland neighbourhood. Upon the death of Robert Dunsmuir's widow, Joan, the Craigdarroch estate was sold to land speculator Griffith Hughes for $38,000 who subdivided the estate into buildings lots.

The Castle is currently owned by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society, which is a private non-profit society and is open to the public. The castle is a tourist attraction and receives 150,000 visitors a year.

Why You Should Visit:
Very unique place for western Canada. There is a self-guided tour, but the young volunteers stationed around the various rooms are also very helpful.
If you enjoy anything exquisitely Victorian-era or are a fan of wooden craftsmanship then this is a must.

To fully appreciate the castle, you will need to be fit enough to walk up the staircases (no elevator) to the different sections from the restored bedrooms to the upstairs ballroom.
Make sure you go to the top turret and admire the views!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-4:30pm; Jun 15 - Sep 6: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Government House

7) Government House (must see)

Government House of British Columbia is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as well as that in Victoria of the Canadian monarch, and has casually been described as "the Ceremonial Home of all British Columbians." It stands in the provincial capital on a 14.6 hectares (36 acres) estate at 1401 Rockland Avenue; while the equivalent building in many countries has a prominent, central place in the capital, the site of British Columbia's Government House is relatively unobtrusive within Victoria, giving it more the character of a private home.

Government House's 14.6 hectares (36 acres) property is a publicly accessible area tended by volunteers in the Friends of Government House Gardens Society, and are used frequently by the surrounding community, save for when security otherwise necessitates. The site is divided into numerous different zones according to plant life and/or garden style; for instance, the British Columbia native plant garden contains species unique to the province, and the Cottage Garden is arranged in an informal style with a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. There are also gardens to supply cut flowers, herbs, and an orchard with apple, plum, and quince trees; a rock garden tended by the Heather Society of Victoria; iris, lily, rhododendron, and rose gardens (including a formal Victorian rose garden based on the plan of that at Warwick Castle in England); and water features such as the fountain pond and the duck pond. There is also a unique 8.9 hectares (22 acres) Garry Oak ecosystem.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful place to stop on a walk through the lovely and historic neighborhood of Rockland.
There is a modest tea rom open in the summer months. Deer roam freely on the property.
On a clear day, from numerous vantage points, you can see the Olympic Mountains.

The house tours are 2 hours long so be ready for that. The gardens are one of Victoria's favorite visitor spots because you can walk from Craidarroch to the gardens to the Ross Bay Cemetery and it only takes an hour or so, depending on how much time you spend in each spot.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Victoria, British Columbia

Create Your Own Walk in Victoria

Create Your Own Walk in Victoria

Creating your own self-guided walk in Victoria is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Best Museums and Art Galleries

Best Museums and Art Galleries

Victoria has some of the most interesting and fascinating museums dedicated to history, nature and arts. It is also a city with the most amazing and interesting art galleries, featuring art work from different times and places. Take the walking tour below to see some of the most famous art galleries in Victoria.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Victoria's Historical Churches Tour

Victoria's Historical Churches Tour

Victoria located in British Columbia has a rich history and interesting people to tell it. It also has some outstanding religious sights. We offer, below, a tour that will take you through some of the most interesting religious places in Victoria.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Victoria Introduction Walking Tour

Victoria Introduction Walking Tour

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a popular tourist destination in large part for its marvelous Victorian architecture, such as the stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion, museums, galleries and other attractions attesting to the city's British colonial past and more. Follow this orientation walk to see some of Victoria's main tourist attractions.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles