Living in Victoria, Esquimalt, and Vancouver Island

A recent survey found that fifteen percent of Canada’s Baby Boomer population is looking for a way to retire in Victoria. The Seaspan employees at our Victoria Shipyards decided not to wait that long to make their home in this West Coast gem.

The elegant and flower-filled city of Victoria sits at the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the West Coast of British Columbia. It is the hub of an island region that is prized for its laid-back comfort, mild climate, and access to nature of all sorts—from the resort beaches lining its southeastern shores to the rugged grandeur of its Pacific coastline, and the high mountains and pastoral valleys in between.

Once a bastion of British colonial pride, today the Island and its communities feature a unique combination of old-world heritage, burgeoning multiculturalism, and active modern lifestyles. As it has evolved, the Island has attracted a population to match: at times relaxed, at times adventurous, always appreciative of the past, and expecting wonders from the future.

Greater Victoria

Quick Facts about Victoria

  • City area: 20 square kilometres
  • Metro area: 540 square kilometres
  • Population, Victoria: 78,000
  • Population, metro area: 330,000
  • Founded: 1862
  • Time zone: Pacific

Victoria and Esquimalt

Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia and the home of its Legislature. Southern Vancouver Island, where the city is located, shares the same mild temperatures as Vancouver, with the added bonus of receiving much less rain and very little snow. In fact, Victoria sees an average of 2,100 hours of sunshine every year.

Our Victoria Shipyards are located in the suburban community of Esquimalt, which is just across the striking, bright-blue Johnson Street Bridge from downtown Victoria. Esquimalt’s great views and its proximity to downtown—an easy walk or bike—has helped our Island home base become a thriving neighbourhood with lots of new residential development to complement its heritage buildings, beaches and walkways, and views of the impressive, steep-banked inlet that defines its northern boundary.

The communities of Esquimalt and Victoria frame a pretty and bustling harbour area, which is busy with tour boats and seaplanes; lined with museums, walking paths, and shops; and dominated by the stately Empress Hotel and the striking face of the historic Legislature building. Directly from this harbour, you can catch a city-to-city passenger ferry to Seattle, WA, USA, or a float plane to downtown Vancouver. Extending out from the harbour is Victoria’s historic old town, whose grand old brick buildings house great shops and restaurants, local designers, cozy cafes and bookstores, and lively theatres and nightspots.

Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards in Esquimalt, Vancouver Island  View Larger Map

Victoria has been viewed by many as a place that attracts mostly young couples, who see it as a good place to start a family, and the recently retired, who plan to spend their golden years taking advantage of the year-round golfing. The reality is that the city contains a wide demographic spectrum: as a Pacific Rim city, a political capital, a university centre, and a hotspot of tourism, design, and shipping activity, Victoria is a home for working professionals of all ages, cultures, and industries.

Around Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula

The Greater Victoria area includes the West Shore towns of Langford, View Royal, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands, and Sooke, and eastern neighbourhoods like Oak Bay. All of these communities hug the southern coastline of the Island and share stunning outlooks to the Gulf Islands and beyond to the Olympic Mountains of Washington State, USA.

To the north is the pretty seaside village of Sidney and the neighbourhoods of the Saanich Peninsula—which is also the location of the ferry terminal for trips to Vancouver and the home of the beautiful Butchart Gardens.

Of the region’s many gardens, the displays at Butchart are the best known, but are only a part of an Island-wide obsession. The sunshine and mild climate has fostered a passion for gardening throughout Vancouver Island—in Greater Victoria alone there are at least 1,600 large hanging flower baskets displayed throughout the city.

Exploring Vancouver Island

The entire Island is roughly the size of Holland, with about 750,000 residents in total, but millions more people visit every year to get a taste of its refined charms, and its rugged beauty.

But beyond the pretty, well-tended flowerbeds and beachside villages, the Island has a wilder face. Weekend road trips will take you through the staggering old-growth forests of Cathedral Grove, the vast western sweep of the unspoiled Pacific coastline, the mindbending waterfalls of Strathcona park, icefield-capped mountains around the northern towns of Courtney and Comox, and the winding inlets of the Cowichan Valley. The more adventurous might try whale-watching, kayaking, salmon-fishing, or a multi-day hike along the famous West Coast Trail.

For excursions off the Island, travel to and from Vancouver is a pleasure, whether you take a scenic BC Ferry sailing through Active Pass or a quick—and spectacular—float plane ride.