Photo by Destination BC & Tanya Goehring

How the small and intimate pedestrian paths have preserved bits of the city’s past.

Unlike a city’s major thoroughfares that are typically renovated by the demand of progress, alleys have a way of preserving the past. The narrow, pedestrian-only passageways hold on to their intimate storefronts and leisurely culture. They beckon the outdoor dining parties, strolling lovers, and adventuresome tourists — especially in Victoria.

The most popular of the BC capital’s wall-lined walkways is Fan Tan Alley. It’s located in one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America and spans less than three feet in sections. The entrance to its less-well-known sister alley—Dragon Alley—is located just across Fisguard Street. Though the two walkways share a similarly colorful past of opium dens and gambling joints, they are both now hubs for restaurants, galleries, and interesting shops.

Closer to Victoria’s downtown hub, you’ll find Trounce Alley. Named after the Victoria Pioneer Thomas Trounce, the picturesque passageway features authentic gaslights that are over 125 years old. 

But it’s Waddington Alley that’s arguably Victoria’s most unique path — though often overlooked. The relatively nondescript passage doesn’t feature a plethora of cute shops and overhead lights. Rather, its most interesting feature is underfoot. The alley’s walkway is the last of its kind in the city. Constructed from small creosoted wooden bricks, it’s fondly dubbed the “wooden street.”

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