Victoria rich in history and tradition

by Kenneth Bagnell for

For years writers have described Victoria — the shining city and capital of British Columbia — as “more English than the English.”

It’s a graceful line that lingers. But is it apt? Not to John Adams. He’s the scholarly historian who operates a guiding agency taking about 13,000 visitors through his city every year.

“We were diverse from the very beginning,” he told me. “Yes there were many English but also Irish, Scottish, German, Italian, Chinese. Most of us smile when we’re described as more English than the English.”

Barbara and I deliberately settled just outside Victoria proper for our visit. We chose Oak Bay, and a bed and breakfast owned by Egle and Derek Vair, who in 2007 moved from Ontario to fulfil an ambition: owning and operating an inn. Their Oak Bay Guest House is a member of a select group, Victoria’s Historic Inns, seven of them, some former luxurious mansions. One, Prior House is the former home of a B.C. premier.

Oak Bay Guest House had much to commend it: a large home, its original building from 1911, is now sheltered among holly, cedars and azalea trees. Rates are quite reasonable, some doubles were $80 a night.

“We deliberately keep prices moderate,” says Egle. “We’re not a stately mansion but we offer a very comfortable stay.”

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