A Porthole to the Past

The top of each Porthole is clear, revealing a portion of the harbour’s coastline as it is today. The bottom half shows a photo of what once occupied that spot.

Victoria’s future is bright. Visitors from around the world flock to visit the charming harbour precincts of Conde Nast’s world’s second best small city. And as the city centre’s building boom makes clear, Victoria is becoming home for a rapidly increasing number of newcomers. Why is Victoria thriving? Certainly we have great weather, and are exemplars of the Canadian maxim “peace, order, and good government”, but there’s much more… the architectural legacy of our downtown is the bequest of generations whose many lost stories of struggle, triumph, tragedy, crime, folly, and heroism have created the city… and if that wasn’t enough, its all wrapped ’round a vibrant and beautiful harbour!

Progress however has two sides. On the upside, Victoria is being energized by the competence and the curiousity of those of all ages who visit or have decided this is where they will claim their future. On the downside, our failure to enrich each newcomer‘s appreciation and understanding of our long story increases the risk we will dilute our precious downtown to mere real estate surrounding a pond. Creatively informing newcomers and tourists why Victoria is here and why downtown remains charmingly unique serves a number of purposes. Not only does it corroborate the ‘second best small city in the world‘ claim, but serves as a defence against losing our precious offering while strengthening community through the compelling telling of our origin stories.

Through your support of the Victoria Harbour History Project’s Portholes to the Past initiative you can become a Harbour Storyteller helping to focus the future of Victoria’s past. You can help thousands, visitors and residents alike, to understand just how special and important our harbour continues to be to our city, to the island, to British Columbia,to Canada, and to the continuity of Victoria’s long social and economic history.