Queen Victoria circa 1880Although the railway had brought into creation a new rival, the city of Vancouver, the 1891 census confirmed that Victoria was still the most populous city in the province and the one with the largest economy. Initially the railway propelled Victoria's economy as the regional financial and shipping centre. New deep sea docks were added to handle ocean going freighters and liners, and the Canadian Pacific Railway's Empress steamship lines made Victoria an important port of call. But as the decade rolled on, depression hit, industries closed and the city seemed to lose its nerve.

Victoria harbour circa 1880To solidify the city's status as capital and to rejuvenate its economy, invitations were sent The City out for an architectural competition to design new Parliament Buildings and in 1893 the imposing new structure was rising near the inner harbour. The official opening of the new buildings coincided with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and a statue of the Queen was the focus of the Parliamentary lawns. On top of the buildings was a gold gilded George Vancouver, the great navigator and map maker, and he looked over a harbour which, in 1898 thronged with gold seekers on route to the Klondike gold fields.

The Queen and Empress Victoria now reigned over one of the largest empires the world had ever known and the richest in terms of economic production. The empire rose up to acknowledge their empress in a display of pomp and affection, and many say this was the highwater mark of the British empire, which was soon plunged into the Boer War.

Research Sites

Airing Victoria's Dirty Laundry

Created by William Akehurst, Vanessa Cervantes, Mike Crouch, Sanjiv Galhon, Tracy MacDonald, Tara Salter

In the 1880s and 1890s, Victoria had a flourishing red light district in which "ladies of questionable morals" plied their trade. This website examines prostitution as seen through two case studies of Belle Adams and Edna Farnsworth. Their respective experiences on Victoria's ‘mean streets" are examined against the framework of Victorian society's views on female sexuality and morality.

Victoria illustrated

Containing a general description of the province of British Columbia, and a review of the resources, terminal advantages, general industries, and climate of Victoria, the "Queen city" and its tributary country, 1891.

Henry J Morgan, The Canadian men and women of the time

A handbook of Canadian biography (Toronto : W. Briggs, 1898.)

Programme of the celebration of Her Majesty's birthday

At Victoria, B.C., May 22, 23, 24, 1890.