Has it's roots in the California Gold Rush but unlike a lot of towns, it did not die when the rush was over. Below is an excerpt from "Victoria Illustrated" ©1891 Click the link to Google books for the entire volume.
Fifty years ago, before immigration to the shores of the Pacific was attracted by the discovery of gold in California, Fort Victoria had an existence. The gold seekers were preceded by the fur dealers, and the first house in what is now the Queenly Capital of British Columbia, was that of one of the adventurous traders of the Hudson's Bay Company. As years rolled on, the importance of the post on the southern extremity of Vancouver Island became more and more recognized. Population increased; the Hudson's Bay Company, with its store-keepers, trappers and traders, forming one important class; while another, drawn from the ships of the Royal Navy, which paid frequent visits to the shores of Vancouver Island, more gradually became a noticeable feature of its society. C Then came news of gold discoveries in various parts
of the country tributary to the struggling settlement, and then the influx of the army of the Argonauts. From California, where they tasted the sweet and the bitter of the gold fever, the treasure-seekers, with pick and shovel, poured into Victoria, equipped themselves, and V^ passed on in hundreds and thousands to the Fraser, or to ariboo. The history of Victoria's life during the "sixties," is the history of many places in the West, which gold finds have made famous in a day.
The mad search for riches made the village a city— and one, while the excitement was at its height, of con
isiderable population and constantly changing character. After the fever came the reaction, which even more tried the young and struggling city. Many of its citizens, however, knew its worth, and- Victoria passed the crisis safely, and commenced the steady, substantial growth, which has led to its recognition to-day as the wealthiest city—for its size—upon the continent.
Here's a pic looking north on Government St.