Victoria has a selection of self-guided walks around the city, available from the Tourist Information Office on the Waterfront, they are a good way to explore the city at your own pace.
After our hour or so of culture we needed some exercise so made our way via Thunderbird Park and the totem poles through to Beacon Hill Park, spotting a great blue heron at the top of a tree near the lake and several peacocks –we couldn’t persuade a single one to open its tail, but managed to get pretty close – before arriving at the lookout where you have wonderful views (on a clear day) across the Juan de Fuca Straits.
We shared a bench with an elderly gentleman – yes, even older than us – who proceeded to entertain us with stories of the area and of the people who once lived here such as the fact that the seemingly random rocks on the hill were in fact burial markers and it wasn’t until a load of them had been moved that this fact came to light – too late then to put them back where they belonged.
Aboriginal burial cairns were often located on prominent hillsides and above defensive sites. Beacon Hill fits that pattern. Finlayson Point, directly below the hill, was the location of a small native village and defensive site. The presence of human graves on Beacon Hill and evidence found at the Point–including house remains, a defensive trench and midden contents indicates the village was “a more permanent settlement rather than a short-term camp.” “People lived in a village on Finlayson Point beginning about 800 or 900 years before the founding of Fort Victoria.” (Grant Keddie, Curator of Archaeology at the Royal B. C. Museum)
I love it when we meet people like him who have so many tales to tell, it’s a shame it happens less frequently when you travel as a couple.