Victoria’s Ever Changing Outer Harbour

Winter storms once raged across the Strait of Juan De Fuca, lashing the unprotected shorelines at the natural entrance to the harbour.

R.P. Rithet

In 1883 R.P Rithet constructed Rithet’s Piers to support his liquor and grocery import business. They sprung from the old Outer Wharves located on the site of today’s Canadian Coast Guard’s Western Division Headquarters. For the first time deep-sea shipping was able to stop at Victoria. Products and people from around the world began to pour in, and the city became both an immigration gateway and an export terminal for the island’s natural resources. In response Robert Dunsmuir incorporated the E&N Railway. that same year. The economy boomed.

The Ogden Point Breakwater / Wharf Facility

The 1914 opening of the Panama Canal brought the promise of greatly increased Pacific trade. The province’s solution was to build a breakwater and two wharves at the barren shore on the harbour’s southeastern entrance known as Ogden Point, . Years before it had been named after Peter Skene Ogden, an early Hudson’s Bay Trader. The breakwater was completed in 1916, the wharves in 1918.

Natural Resource Terminal

The facility served the island’s natural resource industries for well over half a century, and again Victoria’s economy boomed. Then in 1984, as global trade patterns changed, the last of the facility’s resource enterprises went bankrupt. Ogden Point’s long years of providing prosperity to Victorians came to an end, and for almost two decades, the windswept wharves lay mostly silent.

Cruise Ships

Through those quiet years the facility played host to a variety of transportation experiments. Then, in 2001 the 828 ft. (252.4 m) Norwegian Sky became the first cruise ship of the modern era to visit Victoria on a regular schedule. One of the city’s important economic engines had been restarted. Since then the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has established and upgraded the harbour including the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal. By 2019 the Terminal, its restored Breakwater Walk, and events Ogden Point had welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors.

The Breakwater District at Ogden Point

Now the empty acres of asphalt that once supported a rail terminus, lumberyards and fish packing plants is being reinvented once again. The Breakwater District at Ogden Point is once again poised to expand on the facility’s historic role of contributing to Victoria’s economic future by creating new economic, cultural, and community gathering spaces, while enhancing Victoria’s status in the international visitor economy.