The Birthplace of Victoria

The Birthplace of Victoria (HMWVF)

Location: Victoria, BC L0S 1J0 Capital
Country: Canada

N 48° 25.462', W 123° 22.224'

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We would like to take a moment to share with you the history that you are standing over, around and next to.
This harbour was originally the sole domain of the Lekwungen First Nation who plied its protected waters and fished in their dugout canoes. When James Douglas arrived here in 1843, he chose it as the site for a new Hudson's Bay Company trading post, eventually called Fort Victoria. It wooden walls stood along the rocky shore overlooking this site (behind you along Wharf Street).

At first no dock existed here, so Lekwungen were hired to transport goods ashore in their canoes. To aid this process, large metal canting rings were embedded in the rocks and lines from the stern of the ships were tied to them. This kept the vessel steady while it was being unloaded. One ring, now painted white, remains in the rock to your left and what remains of another is just under the boardwalk (behind and to the right).

By 1858 about 25,00 men passed through Victoria on their way from California to the Fraser River Gold Rush. Within a few years the fort was dismantled and Victoria's Old Town grew up where it once stood. While stores, hotels and saloons were built on downtown streets, docks, warehouses and factories were built along the shoreline.

The Enterprise Wharf (located where the parking lot is behind you) was early Victoria's most famous dock. Goods which arrived at this port would be levied by the Canadian Government by the Customs House (looming to you left) which was built in 1875.

[Illustration captions]Watercolour by James Alden of Fort Victoria as it appeared in 1854. You are standing off to the right of this painting. Royal BC Museum Archives image PDP 02143

Note the stern lines of the ships attached to the metal rings on shore. Royal BC Museum Archives image A-03112

An 1864 photograph of Wharf Street looking North from the corner of Fort Street. Look off to you right at Wharf Street and note how little the original architecture has changed. Royal BC Museum Archives image A-03033

In this photograph taken during the Klondike Gold Rush shows the livestock pens on the Enterprise Wharf. In the background is the Customs House and the pier you are standing on. Royal BC Museum, BC Archives image D-07254

Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 9:06am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)10U E 472597 N 5363534
Decimal Degrees48.42436667, -123.37040000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 48° 25.462', W 123° 22.224'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds48° 25' 27.72" N, 123° 22' 13.44" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 538 Inner-Harbour Pathway, Victoria BC L0S 1J0, CA
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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