Victoria, city (1991 pop. 71,228), capital of British Columbia, SW Canada, on Vancouver Island and Juan de Fuca Strait. It is the largest city on the island and its major port and business center. In addition to its importance as the seat of provincial government, Victoria is noted as a residential city because of its mild climate, beautiful scenery, many parks (including Beacon Hill Park) and drives. It is also a popular center for American and Canadian tourists. It has sawmills and woodworking plants, fish-processing factories, grain elevators, and cold-storage plants. The city is the base of a deep-sea fishing fleet; a large naval installation is nearby. Founded (1843) as Fort Camosun, a Hudson's Bay Company post, the city was later called Fort Victoria. When Vancouver Island became a crown colony, a town was laid out on the site (1851–52), named Victoria, and made the capital of the colony. With the discovery (1858) of gold on the British Columbia mainland, Victoria became the port, supply base, and outfitting center for miners on their way to the Cariboo gold fields. In 1866, when the island was administratively united with the mainland, Victoria remained the capital of the colony and became the provincial capital in 1871. It is the seat of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the Univ. of Victoria.
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