A Whale of A Time in Victoria

I mentioned in my September Wrap-Up post that I traveled to Vancouver Island. My itinerary included Victoria, Parksville, and Tofino. All three stops are in the Province of British Columbia, on the West Coast of Canada.

From Toronto to Victoria, the flight time is about five hours. I had been to Victoria before so on this trip, sightseeing-wise I intentionally chose to do things that I cannot do in Toronto and skipped a few things that first time visitors to Victoria might do.

Be close to the sea

I strolled the Causeway circling Victoria’s Inner Harbour, to the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked James Bay Unity Wall and Breakwater. The sea air was refreshing, the views were wonderful, and there was always something in the surroundings to engage my senses. When I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning, most of the shops were still closed, the water was so calm, it mirrored everything.

Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria
Fisherman’s Wharf, Victoria, BC, Canada

Snap pictures of totem poles

I loved the totem poles at Thunderbird Park. I had seen them on my first visit to Victoria years ago and wanted to see them again. I was unsure why my obsession with the totem poles. I just took a lot of pictures. I think they are expressive, visually captivating, and unique artworks.

Walk the history

I attended the 30-minute guided tour of the British Columbia Legislature. It was time well spent to learn about the history of the building, and to see the beautiful building interiors, including the stained glass windows that celebrate Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee (1837-1897) and Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee (1952-2002).

British Columbia Legislature
Legislature building, Victoria, BC, Canada

I also followed the seven Signs of Lekwungen to learn more about Victoria’s history. The site markers are bronze castings of original cedar carvings, conceptualized and carved by Coast Salish artist, Butch Dick. The markers depict spindle whorls that were traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. The spindle whorl was considered the foundation of a Coast Salish family.

Signs of Lekwungen by Victoria's City Hall

Visit the “superlatives”

I walked through Victoria’s beautiful Beacon Hill Park to see the Spirit of Lekwammen, the world’s tallest totem pole at about 38.89 meters (127 feet 7 inches). I also walked the narrowest street in Canada named Fan Tan Alley, and had a yummy snack in Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and a National Historic Site.

Meet someone famous

I “met” Our Emily, a bronze statue created by sculptor Barbara Paterson. The statue honours the renowned Canadian artist and Victoria’s famous citizen, Emily Carr. The sculpture features Emily Carr seated outdoors with her sketchpad. Her Javanese monkey, Woo, perches on her shoulder and her dog, Billie, stands nearby. The building behind the statue is the also famous Empress Hotel.

Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson
Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson

Go whale watching

The weather was beautiful as I boarded the boat for my whale watching tour. It took about 40 minutes of travelling South to come across our first sighting. It was two humpback whales whose large blows were visible in the distance.

The pairing looked like a mother and calf. Initially they were a little spaced out from each other but eventually the mother soon caught up with her calf. The two flicked both of their tails up in the air in a synchronized dive. What an unforgettable sight!

Humpback whales

We continued watching this pair until we spotted another couple of humpback whales further away. These two were making large blows, swimming leisurely, and then captured our hearts with a few tail flukes.

See the seals and sea lions

The whale watching tour included a visit to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve where we saw the Harbour seals and California and Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocks. Some were sleeping in the sun while others were engaging in power struggles for the top of the rock. The Harbour seals blended very well with the rock colours.

Seals and sea lions


I had a whale of a time in Victoria 🙂 All of the activities mentioned were free, except the whale watching tour. I’d love to see whales in the ocean again. This trip was also the first time I took all my photos with my phone. They turned out better than I expected.

Have you been to Victoria? Have you ever watched whales in the ocean? What were your impressions?

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51 thoughts on “A Whale of A Time in Victoria

    • Natalie October 13, 2019 / 8:52 am

      Thank you, John and Susan, for your comment. Have a beautiful day!


  1. Retirement Reflections October 14, 2019 / 1:41 am

    Awesome photos, Natalie – Your phone camera has captured the ‘blues’ of Victoria brilliantly! It was a pleasure to meet you during this trip. I’m glad that you were able to fit so much in…and that the weather was good at least some of the time! 😀


    • Natalie October 15, 2019 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you, Donna, for your comment. I was experimenting with leaving my camera at home as part of my continuing quest to travel as light as possible. I was glad the photos from my phone turned out OK. Victoria is a lovely city. Meeting you and Sue there made this trip even more memorable.


  2. Joanne Sisco October 14, 2019 / 7:30 am

    It looks like you had such beautiful weather for your tour of Victoria! So nice to see the whales were welcoming too 🙂🐳


    • Natalie October 15, 2019 / 8:34 pm

      Hi Joanne – I lucked out with the weather in Victoria when I was there, and to see the pairs of whales was truly wonderful. Now I want to do whale watching on the East coast of Canada 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo October 14, 2019 / 6:19 pm

    Victoria really looks like my type of place. We go whale watching annually now and each time it’s different and exciting. I don’t think seeing whales and seals etc will ever get old. Thanks for showing us around!


    • Natalie October 15, 2019 / 8:37 pm

      I agree with you, Jo, that seeing the whales and seals will never get old. Victoria is a lovely city and easy to navigate. I think you’d enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. csuhpat1 October 15, 2019 / 8:52 pm

    What a cool and great time. So very nice. Thanks for sharing it. #MLSTL


    • Natalie October 15, 2019 / 9:00 pm

      Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:04 am

      Thank you, Shiju, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it.


  5. leannelc October 16, 2019 / 2:27 am

    Great photos (as always) Natalie – l loved the colours and the buildings. The whale watching would have been really special – everyone who goes on those expeditions rave about it afterwards – I don’t think photos ever truly capture the grandure and scale of whales – definitely something to be experienced up close and personal.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:11 am

      Thank you, Leanne, for your comment. I was glad the photos from my phone turned out well. Seeing the whales is an unforgettable sight. I lucked out with the weather, too.


  6. Deb's World October 16, 2019 / 5:00 am

    Wow so much to see and do Natalie, as it will be a while until i can get over there, I’m happy to tour with you!! #lifethisweek


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:14 am

      Hi Deb – Canada’s West Coast is beautiful and fun. There is no shortage of things to do and see. You’d need to spend more time when you visit Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kerrie @travelswithmum October 16, 2019 / 6:50 am

    It’s so amazing that you got to see some whales!! They are so magnificent!!


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:16 am

      Thank you, Kerrie, for your visit and comment. I was happy to see the whales. I agree that they’re magnificent.


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 7:03 pm

      Yes, seals are fun to watch. Thanks, Lydia. for stopping by.


  8. Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com October 16, 2019 / 7:56 pm

    Wow, you packed a lot it! Lots of your pictures reminded me of the places we visited while there last July… but I missed that skinny alley. Next time, I guess.


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:14 pm

      That Fan Tan Alley was close to where I stayed so it was easy to visit it. I lucked out with the weather in Victoria and just walked outdoors every day to enjoy the sunshine and the scenery. It must be really nice in July when you were there.


  9. Min Write of the Middle October 16, 2019 / 8:28 pm

    It looks beautiful there Natalie. Somewhere I’d very much enjoy! In fact ALL of Canada looks like somewhere I’d very much enjoy. I do hope I get there one day. Thank you again for taking us along with you for some virtual travel! 🙂 xo #TeamLovinLife


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 8:39 pm

      Hi Min – I hope you visit Canada. I’d love to meet you IRL like I did with Sue and her husband.


  10. betty - NZ October 16, 2019 / 8:59 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing these wonderful experiences with us. Your photos are fabulous.

    It’s great to see your post on ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!


    • Natalie October 16, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      Thank you, Betty, for your kind comment and for hosting MCoW. Have a beautiful week!


  11. Denyse Whelan October 17, 2019 / 4:40 am

    Good on you for revisiting a place and getting to see lots you enjoyed. Thank you for joining in Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt is 42/51 Self-Care Stories #6. 21/10/19. Hope to see you there. Denyse.


    • Natalie October 17, 2019 / 7:46 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for your comment. I look forward to your next link up. Have a beautiful week!


  12. Carol October 17, 2019 / 4:43 am

    Totem poles are amazing


    • Natalie October 17, 2019 / 7:49 am

      Agreed. Thank you, Carol, for stopping by.


  13. OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com October 17, 2019 / 11:20 pm

    Indeed you did have a whale of a time. That first photograph of the dock and buildings on the water is just beautiful. Those rich primary colors reflected in that mirror-like water. Really a fabulous photo.

    I would like to see the seals, sea lions and have always been partial to manatees. They just look lazy and lovable to me. Our whale sightings are pretty spectacular, too.

    Always enjoy reading about your travels, my friend.


    • Natalie October 18, 2019 / 8:09 am

      Hi Leslie – I’m glad you liked my photo at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. The seals and sea lions are very fun to watch. I like manatees, too. The whales are unforgettable. They move with power and grace at the same time. Thank you for stopping by. Have a beautiful weekend!


  14. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond October 17, 2019 / 11:24 pm

    ou certainly had a lovely time in Victoria, Natalie and I wish we had more time to spend together. We didn’t see many whales but you were fortunate to spend a lovely afternoon with them. Stunning photos as usual and another interesting travel tale. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. xx


    • Natalie October 18, 2019 / 8:14 am

      Hi Sue – Meeting you, Mike, Donna and Richard in Victoria definitely made this trip memorable for me. I hope we’ll meet again IRL and have more time to spend together next time. I lucked out with the weather when I went on the whale watching tour and got to see the magnificent humpback whales. Thank you for hosting. Have a beautiful weekend!


  15. Suzanne@PictureRetirement October 18, 2019 / 9:20 am

    I love your photo of Fisherman’s Wharf. Cell phone cameras are getting so advanced that leaving the bulky camera home is an option these days. Visiting from #mlstl, but already a FAN!


    • Natalie October 18, 2019 / 10:57 am

      Thank you, Suzanne, for your kind comment. I was pleased with the photos on this trip from my phone. I think for recreational purposes and general picture-taking, this phone camera is good. If I need to use the zoom feature often, my camera gives better photos.


  16. Margy October 18, 2019 / 8:58 pm

    We live in BC but don’t get down to Victoria often. We did go to Parksville last month and stayed at the Beach Club Resort. We had an outstanding oceanfront room and the Pacific Prime restaurant was amazing. – Margy


    • Natalie October 19, 2019 / 9:04 am

      Welcome Margy to my blog and thank you for your comment. What a coincidence that we were both in Parksville last month. Your accommodation at the Beach Club Resort sounds luxurious. I’ll visit your blog shortly.


  17. Jean | Delightful Repast October 19, 2019 / 10:15 am

    Natalie, I love Victoria. Your gorgeous photos and well-told account have me longing to visit again.


    • Natalie October 19, 2019 / 10:54 am

      Thank you, Jean, for your comment. Victoria is a lovely city, isn’t it? I like that it’s very picturesque and has plenty to keep its visitors engaged without overwhelming them.


  18. Erica/Erika October 19, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    Very fun to read your post, Natalie. I was hoping you would have some good weather, since it can make a difference. Your photos are stunning! I don’t think I have asked you before whether you use your phone or a camera to take photos? Or both? You remind me how I should take the guided tour of the Legislature again. It has been many years since I have taken the tour. Things change. Fun photos of Chinatown! Especially, Fan Tan Alley.

    As I read further, you answered my question on the phone pictures. Great results!

    I am glad you had a “whale of a time!”


    • Natalie October 19, 2019 / 9:19 pm

      Thank you, Erica, for your kind comment. The BC Legislature interior is beautiful. Maybe when your grands are old enough to go, you can take them there. Before this post, I used my camera which provided photos that I liked a lot. This trip to BC was the first time that I used my phone for all the photos. They turned out well. On the plus side, I no longer need to bring two devices. On the minus side, my camera’s zoom feature is way better than my phone’s zoom 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika October 19, 2019 / 9:30 pm

        I have been recently experimenting more with my phone. I am finding great results on rainy days. The rain does not seem to affect the phone lens. A different story with the camera. I rarely use it on rainy days. Yes, on the zoom. My camera has great zoom. I haven’t played much with my phone’s zoom. Your photos turned out great!


  19. Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit October 23, 2019 / 4:27 pm

    How pretty is Fishermans Wharf!!! So pretty.
    I am going whale watching in Oz on Saturday. Jervis Bay … apparently they are everywhere right now as they head south again towards our south pole. Can’t wait,


    • Natalie October 23, 2019 / 4:41 pm

      I hope you see many whales on Saturday. Look forward to photos from your excursion.


    • Natalie December 7, 2019 / 6:01 pm

      Thank you, David and Laura, for your visit and comment. I’m glad you enjoyed Victoria, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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