Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf

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Victoria Fisherman's Wharf - a colourful area of food, sealife, shops and float homes

A colourful area of food kiosks, unique shops, fresh seafood, sea life,
and float homes in Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria, British Columbia on Canada’s West Coast is not a particularly large city, but it has an abundance of enchanting locations, from popular tourist sites in the Inner Harbour to small out-of-the-way spots in local neighburhoods. One of my favourite areas is Fisherman’s Wharf.

Food kiosks at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

The area contains food kiosks, featuring fresh seafood as well as other food, and a handful of unique shops. The docks are the starting point for whale watching ships and kayak adventures. Fishing boats dock to unload their catch. Some sell their fresh fish directly from the boat. Otters and other sea life play in the waters. The eastern end of the Wharf is home to a community of colourful float homes.

Marina at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia
Pleasure boats in the marina

Coast Salish First Nations traditionally harvested shellfish on the mud flats of the bay. In 1859, Robert Laing built a shipyard here. For a number of years, the area was home to fur-sealing vessels. The shipyard closed soon after Robert Laing’s son Andrew died in 1897. The landside of the bay became overgrown. Float home dwellers and small fishing boats used the waterside.

In 1947, the federal government built the Fisherman’s Wharf facility for larger fishing vessels. For the next forty years or so, salmon fishing boats were tied up two or three abreast during the off-season. Over the years, the fishing fleet shrank and more dock space was used for dwellings.

Fishing boats at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

Although in lesser numbers and with smaller operations than fifty years ago, fishermen remain an important part of the Wharf, which harbours salmon trollers, tuna boats, and small crab and prawn fleets.

Sea otter at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

The area is home to a variety of wildlife – eagles, seabirds, otters and seals. The otters and seals are fun to watch, but do not feed. Public feeding is limited because it has become a hazard, attracting other aggressive wildlife.

Float homes at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

Much of the colour at Fisherman’s Wharf comes from the float homes at the eastern edge of the docks. In 2002, when the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority took over ownership of Wharf Street Docks, 33 berths were set aside for floating residences.

Float homes at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

These are floating homes, not houseboats. They are permanently attached to the dock and have sewer hookups. The homes are owner-occupied and cannot be rented. They look like cool places to live, with scenic views of the Harbour and close proximity to downtown, but residents have to get used to people walking by and staring. Most of the exteriors are dressed up in ways that encourage onlookers.

Floating home at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

Floating homes at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

Floating homes at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

During peak season of May to October, services are open seven days a week. During the shoulder season, November to April, there is limited food operation.

Water taxi in Victoria Inner Harbour

Fisherman’s Wharf is located around the corner from the Inner Harbour. It is a ten-minute walk from the Inner Harbour or a ten-minute walk from the Ogden Point cruise ship terminal. Enter off Dallas Street or St. Lawrence Road. There is a parking lot (payment required) and bike racks (limited). The Wharf is also a water taxi stop.

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    1. Deb, Victoria does get a fair bit of rain, but I’ve also had a lot of sunshine on some of my visits. Summer can be colourful, but September is also a great time to visit – that is when these photos were taken.

  1. I loved Victoria too — I have relatives there — but never got to Fishermen’s Wharf. We have similar floating homes all over the Netherlands. Some are converted boats, some are still operational boats, but some are like the ones you show here: houses that float. The difference is that it looks like the ones in Victoria are much more cheerfully painted!

  2. Thanks for telling us about this. We will definitely go to the Wharf when we get to Victoria. The trip last year was canceled and the kids opted to go to Phoenix for Christmas instead. Next year they chose Hawaii. And the year after Mazatlan. Maybe in 2019!

  3. The reasons to visit Canada just keep adding up! I can certainly see why Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf might be one of your favorite places as it’s so colorful and vibrant. Your photos capture a unique vibe and I’d love to see all the wildlife. The floating homes look like such great places to live but I agree, Donna that it looks like you’d be giving up a lot of your privacy. Still … you can’t beat the neighborhood! Anita

    1. Anita, there is a unique vibe in the Wharf area. It would be interesting to have a conversation with someone who lives in one the float homes about what life there is really like.

  4. What fun! I could do a floating house, if only to dress it up for the sheer joy of it. Love the redheaded figure sitting on the blue house.

  5. I have fond memories of our 10th anniversary trip to Victoria, British Columbia. We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Do the math. I think it may be time for another visit. I’ve added this post to my Canada Pinterest board to help with trip planning. What I remember from our first trip is the best salmon I had ever eaten and the gorgeous Butchart Gardens in early June.

    1. Suzanne, Butchart Gardens are always gorgeous. June would be particularly pretty. I also like them later in the summer when the dahlias are in bloom.

  6. I know I would love a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia! The history, the fishermen, the shops and restaurants, and the wildlife all add up to a fantastic day in my book!

  7. I agree it’s such a beautiful place to visit . I have been there many times. It’s a spot where I fell in love.