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Victoria History

Victoria, one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, has been shaped by a history of indigenous people, commerce, government, navy and the eclectic (sometimes eccentric) breed of people that the natural beauty attracts. For thousands of years before the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company first settled Victoria, it was home to a healthy population of Coast Salish people living in small communities around the region. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s when the men of the Hudson’s Bay Company first cleared the land and erected a cedar-log fort that Fort Victoria was born, as was a new page of Victoria’s history. In 1858, Victoria received a deluge of fortune-seeking miners looking to strike it rich in the Thompson gold fields. These were tumultuous times that saw the construction of Market Square to service the prospectors, and a police barracks and jail in Bastions Square to keep them in check. Strategically positioned on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria was the logical home for the Royal Navy, which set up shop in 1865. Today, it is home to Canada’s west coast naval base, and the Canadian Navy just celebrated their 100th anniversary in June 2010. With a reputation as BC’s center of commerce, Victoria became provincial capital when BC joined the Confederation in 1871. Today Victoria is an eclectic mix of genteel society, government workers, artists, military people, retirees, students and surfers.