One of the Victoria Harbour Ferry fleet approaching the Inner Harbour floats. Photo courtesy of Explore BC

Victoria Harbour Ferries was launched in 1990 to provide harbour tours throughout the city’s Inner Harbour and up the Gorge Waterway. The little ferries quickly became signature vessels of the harbour, bustling from stop to stop, taking tourists and commuters to and from the six original stops around the harbour.

Today Victoria Harbour Ferries operates a fleet of 13 of the original 12-passenger ferries, three purpose-built electric Duffy ferries, and a 40-passenger vessel. Tourists and commuters now have 14 choices of stops from West Bay in Esquimalt to the Selkirk Narrows on the Gorge. The silent electric ferry fleet is the only zero emission vessel on the harbour. It offers very popular curated 60- and 75 minute scenic Historic Gorge Waterway Cruise tours.

Victoria Harbour Ferries has long viewed the protection of the harbour’s health as an important part of their mandate. The company was an original participant in the revitalization of the Gorge Waterway, assisting by both transporting clean up volunteers, and helping remove debris. The decision to move to zero-emission electric boats was a natural extension of their commitment to the harbour’s health. These new vessels can travel at speeds of 5 nautical miles per hour and operate for up to 160 kilometres on a single charge – enough to complete a full day’s operations with power to spare. All done with absolutely no emissions.

Each Harbour Ferry captain is an experienced boat handler who has graduated from the company’s two-week training program. Each holds certificates in small vessel operator proficiency, marine emergency duties including marine first aid, and is ROC-M (VHF) Radio Licensed operator.

In 1990, after their first season’s operation, the company wished to demonstrate their gratitude to the city for the warm welcome they had received. The now world renown Victoria Harbour Ferry water ballet was born and this free, unique dance performance has been presented to locals and tourists alike on summer Sunday mornings for the past 25 years. In 1994 Victoria hosted the Commonwealth Games and the ballet was performed 18 days straight. The Commonwealth Games performances helped establish the ballet as one of Victoria harbour’s signature events and brought world wide attention to the harbour. The ballet is performed every Saturday and Sunday from mid-May though summers end.

All those the little ferries busily zipping about the harbour have joined the Empress Hotel, the Legislature Buildings, and Fisherman’s Wharf as Victorian icons. They have brought Victoria’s wonderful harbour experience to millions of residents and tourists alike, providing safe, fun, waterlevel transportation to those looking to enjoy the harbour’ s neighborhoods, restaurants, and attractions, history and wildlife

Victoria Harbour Ferry’s fleet is consistently rated as one of Victoria’s top tourism attractions.