Friday, December 6, 2013

The Magic of Christmas, CVS Sightseeing Tour

Last night we had the pleasure of joining The Magic of Christmas Tour, offered by CVS Sightseeing and Discover the Past Tours. Hosted by Tom from CVS, and guided by Kate from Discover the Past Tours, we embarked on a three hour walking and bus tour of Government Street and Oak Bay. Kate kept us entertained, despite the chilly weather, with fascinating stories of historical Victorian events and Christmas traditions. Government Street was the hub of 19th century Victoria, as it is today. Many of the buildings are original and tenanted by local businesses like Roger's Chocolates, established in 1885. Their delightful Christmas window displays look much like they did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kate explained that many of our Christmas traditions originated with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, mingling her British heritage with his German home sickness! The merchants of Government Street competed with each other for the best window displays to entice customers in to buy their wares. Robert Service lived in the heritage building on the corner of Government and Fort, where he worked in the bank. The building is now a pub, named in honor of Robert Service - The Bard and Banker! Kate had dozens of these interesting nuggets of information for us as we walked along Government Street and then progressed by bus down the Christmas lit Oak Bay Avenue.

Oak Bay has its own unique history and unusual characters. In the late 19th century, Oak Bay was almost a whole day's horse ride from Victoria, through forest, bush and the ever present mud. Last night, many of the businesses were open and we had time to explore the village and do a little shopping and even had time to stop by The Penny Farthing Pub for some Christmas cheer and a welcome chance to warm our toes!. We were fortunate to encounter roving singers from the Victoria College of Performing Arts, who sang carols along the Avenue. Our next stop was the Oak Bay Beach Hotel where we enjoyed a scheduled visit to Kate's Cafe and listened to more stories with a festive drink and OBBH's famous home baked cookies. Kate's Cafe contains many architectural items salvaged from the original hotel, which adds to its charm. We had time to check out the beautiful lobby and the famous Snug before boarding the bus back downtown. Kate our guide regaled us with a ghost story to cap off the night.
The Magic of Christmas Tour runs Friday and Saturday nights, 6 to 9 PM, from December 6th to 21st. At a cost for adults of $39, it is a wonderful experience at a bargain price. Tourists, visitors to the city and residents alike would all enjoy this amazing tour. Learn about the city you live in and hop aboard a CVS Sightseeing tour. Details of this and other tours can be found on CVS's website at

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