What is now the Capital region has been home to First Nations people for thousands of years – the Songhees, Esquimalt, Scia’new (Beecher Bay), T’sou-ke, Tsawout, Tsartlip, Pauquachin and Tseycum. The unincorporated area of Juan de Fuca encompasses two First Nations – Malahat and Pacheedaht (Port Renfrew).
The southern tip of what is now known as Vancouver Island had long been a gathering place for the First Peoples of the area and those traveling from throughout the Pacific Northwest for celebrations and trading. The landscape changed forever when the first European settlers arrived in 1843 to establish a trading post that soon became the Pacific headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company. They named it Fort Victoria after the young Queen of England.
In 1849 Britain made Vancouver Island a Crown Colony and named Fort Victoria its capital. Victoria remained a small trading post until 1858 when the Fraser River Gold Rush brought thousands of fortune-seekers to the mainland, and Victoria became the main supply port and point of entry. The regional head of the Hudson’s Bay Company, James Douglas, was soon named governor of both Vancouver Island and the new colony of British Columbia.
In 1866 Britain united the two colonies. There could be only one Capital of this new colony: at first it was on the mainland at New Westminster, but in 1868 the colony’s Legislative Assembly voted 14-5 to move the Capital to Victoria. It remained the Capital when British Columbia joined Canadian Confederation in 1871.
Check out our learning resources page for websites, videos and audio clips which tell more of the history of Victoria and the province.