The Chinatown in Victoria, British Columbia is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America behind San Francisco’s. With beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century due to the mass influx of miners from California, Victoria’s Chinatown was apparently a maze of alleyways and courtyards where one could find everything from restaurants and opium dens to theaters and gambling establishments. Even though it still remains somewhat popular with Chinese-Canadians, today’s Chinatown has shrunk to not much more than a city block and really is a far cry from its former glory.

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Royal BC Museum

Founded in 1886 under the care of the first curator John Fannin and located in a single room in the Capitol Buildings, the Royal British Columbia Museum has humble beginnings. In 1913, the provincial government proclaimed the Museum Act, giving the museum formal operating authority and defining its objectives. The museum bounced around from home to home, ever growing in its prominence and by 1961, estimated annual attendance had reached 100,000. The province recognized that the time had come to expand the museum, and in 1963 Premier Bennett announced plans to build a new museum and archives as a Canadian centennial project. Three years later, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother dedicated the cornerstone for the current museum exhibits building. In 1969, the second museum building, the Fannin Tower, was finished. Growing from strength to strength, the museum was merged with the Archives in 2003, which at the time was a 109-year-old organization. Today, the combined organization is home to approximately 7 million objects and strives to share the story of the region with the almost 1 million visitors that wander its halls each year.

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Placed prominently overlooking the waterfront on land formerly belonging to the Lekwungen people, the Neo-Baroque giant domed structure of the main British Columbia Parliament Building is hard to miss from most of downtown Victoria. Captain George Vancouver overlooks the city from atop the central dome and a statue of Queen Victoria adorns the front lawn. These buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, thus making Victoria the capitol of the province.

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Located 20 km NW of Victoria in Brentwood Bay, BC, the Butchart Gardens is a stunning group of floral displays spread over 55 acres maintained by a staff that includes 50 full time gardeners. Over a million visitors wander through Butchart each year. The gardens which are still privately owned by the Butchart family, have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada since 2004.

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Craigdarroch (means “rocky oak place” in Gaelic) Castle is a historic mansion built by the wealthy 19th century coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992 and is a landmark of Victoria, fondly dubbed “Canada’s Castle.”

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Nestled between the ancient kingdoms of Polonnaruwa and Dambulla in the heart of Sri Lanka’s dry zone, Minneriya National Park was originally declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1938 and gained National Park status in August 1997.

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