About James Bay
Colourful, friendly and low-key, James Bay dates from 1859 and is Victoria’s oldest residential neighbourhood (it’s also the oldest such neighbourhood on the entire West Coast north of San Francisco!). The commercial core of James Bay is called “Five Corners” and has a cluster of shops and services that include liquor stores, a bookshop, pharmacy, and a large Thrifty’s grocery store. Mostly, though, visitors just find themselves exploring this unique neighbourhood. Surrounded by water on three sides and bordered by the 185 gorgeously landscaped acres of Beacon Hill Park to the east, James Bay and its winding streets are an ambler’s delight. There is so much to see, from fancy Victorian-era homes to stunning sea vistas looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the snow-capped mountains framing Port Angeles in Washington State.
There are literally dozens of attractions and activities to choose from. Consider walking the length of the 762-metre breakwater at lively and picturesque Ogden Point, which is one of the busiest cruise-ship ports in Canada. This is also one of the region’s best spots for scuba diving, while many anglers cast for fish off the lower lip of the causeway. A little bit to the north is Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the area’s most vibrant destinations. Friendly seals poke their heads above the water hoping to get fed, and the dozen exotic float homes moored here deservedly have their picture taken all the time. Aside from being an active marina, it is thronged with visitors lined up for a serving of Barb’s Fish & Chips (or several other dining options). And speaking of food, there are a dozen fine restaurants in James Bay, ranging from casual to gourmet-hip.
Walking towards town you can’t miss the Parliament Buildings, a stately building in granite that was designed by the same architect who built the stunning Fairmont Empress Hotel, the other great architectural marvel dominating the Inner Harbour. A half-dozen horse-drawn carriages are usually parked in the shade alongside the street to the west of the Parliament grounds, awaiting customers. And aside from all the buskers and artists working al fresco, the area also boasts a giant art gallery dedicated to celebrated painter and naturalist Robert Bateman. And everyone should visit Victoria’s world-renowned Royal BC Museum, which also adjoins the Inner Harbour.
In short, there is a lot to see and do in James Bay. And it’s also a perfect place to relax by reading in one of several parks, or just going out for a coffee. We wouldn’t live anywhere else!