Secret’s out: Victoria no longer nearly dead

Source: Times Colonist
Author: Michael Reid

Victoria’s secret is out — again.

Just when you thought you’d heard the last reminder that B.C.’s capital was once known as the place for “the newly wed and nearly dead,” a variation resurfaced online Thursday.

Vogue’s flattering article titled Why Victoria, British Columbia, Should Be Your Next Weekend Getaway also acknowledged that “an influx of creative, entrepreneurial types” has helped change the shape of a city with “about 900 tech companies, and counting.”

It also tipped its hat to the abundance of quaint hotels, boutiques, bars, bakeries, restaurants and outdoor opportunities.

But not before noting that Victoria once “seemed more like the kind of place you’d visit with your granny than hit up for a girls’ weekend.”

The Vogue spread marked the second time in a week Victoria’s unshakable reputation resurfaced. On April 3, the Toronto Star piece noted — stop the presses! — there are even skateboarders and tattooed types here.

Observing that Victoria, a long-overlooked Canadian cousin to hipster havens Seattle and Portland in conversations about the Pacific Northwest, “America’s capital region of cool,” Vogue notes we’re one of Canada’s sunniest cities.

Featured foodie highlights include Cliff Leir’s bakery Fol Epi and its Yates Street location’s Agrius restaurant, as well as Little Jumbo and its impressive food and cocktails.

While Vogue praises “the LoJo district” and the history of lower Johnson Street’s shopping area, focusing on Tonic Jewelry as well as Yates Street boutiques Nest & Cradle and Bernstein & Gold, it doesn’t overlook the “super-British vestiges of Old Victoria,” such as afternoon tea at the Empress. If you don’t want to “sleep where the Royals stay,” it suggests the Magnolia boutique hotel and Oak Bay Beach Hotel as other attractive options.

The London Chef’s West Coast, Best Coast fishing boat excursion is highlighted. It’s a crabbing and salmon fishing expedition followed by a gourmet seafood lunch at sea prepared by London-born chef Dan Hayes.

Being described by the fashion and lifestyle magazine as “Canada’s answer to Jamie Oliver” hasn’t gone to his head, Hayes said with a laugh. “It’s a huge compliment because what Jamie does for food worldwide is outstanding,” Hayes said. “I don’t think Jamie Oliver has a swelled head, either. I just cook food for people. I’m too dumb to do anything else.”

The Toronto Star article acknowledges Victoria’s sizable university population, its hip Hotel Zed and assets such as the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

And it dispels myths about the city being “boring” by quoting Bruce Livingstone, the entrepreneur who moved here from Los Angeles and operates Stocksy.

“I tell [people] if you’re bored then it’s your fault,” he said.

Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey said he is thrilled by the coverage resulting from an “engaging itinerary” they planned for five visiting travel writers last week.

“We feel great. It was a lot of hard work by my team and it’s great to see that work pay off,” said Nursey, who has no issue with “newly wed and nearly dead” references. “Sometimes you have to confront old perceptions to get people to write about the new reality.”