Compared to First Nations people, who have lived in Victoria for at least 10,000 years, and inhabited many of Victoria’s iconic spots, including the Inner Harbour, Beacon Hill Park, Willows Beach and Cadboro Bay, European settlers have resided here for just a short period of time. Victoria’s rapid growth over the past 150 years, from Gold Rush boomtown and HBC outpost to its current incarnation as high-tech Tectoria has meant that much of its heritage is hidden.
However, Victoria has plenty of lovingly restored heritage houses, many within walking distance of each other. Here are just a few:
Built by Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, a surgeon with the Hudson’s Bay Company, Helmcken House is one of the oldest houses in British Columbia still on its original site, not part of the Royal BC Museum precincts.
Craigflower Farmhouse and School
Built in 1856, Craigflower Farmhouse is the third oldest house in British Columbia, and Craigflower School is oldest schoolhouse in western Canada! With beautiful restored interiors looking like the day the family moved in, Craigflower is preserved and presented by The Land Conservancy of British Columbia.
Emily Carr House
Birthplace of one of Canada’s most renowned creative figures, this painstakingly restored Victorian villa is the wellspring for celebrated artist and author Emily Carr. In her spirit our People’s Gallery often features exhibitions of contemporary art. Prints of Emily’s paintings are always on display.
Ross Bay Villa
Ross Bay Villa is one of fewer than a dozen 1860s houses left in the City of Victoria. Built in 1865, the one-story residence is remarkably intact, retaining almost all of its original detailing, both inside and out. The design of the house is in a restrained Gothic Revival style with exterior elements including modest but finely made wood Gothic trefoil detailing on the porch, unusual champhered detailing on the exterior window frames, decorative turned finials at the roof peaks and a rare double-flue chimney.
Point Ellice House
Built in 1861, Point Ellice House is one of the only known surviving pioneer home in Victoria with many household items and furnishings that were used by three generations of one family, for over 108 years.