James Bay Gems

I recently learned that James Bay is an English singer/songwriter but that’s not the one we’re referring to here. This page features the gems found in the vibrant and diverse neighbourhood of James Bay that is located in the heart of Victoria British Columbia. 

The community is uniquely situated southeast of Victoria Harbour, north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and west of Beacon Hill Park. Surrounded by water on three sides, the waterfront is lively with activity that includes the arrival of tourists at Ogden Point cruise ship terminal, Helijet Heliport and the Coho and Clipper ferry terminals. 

Spending time in this region will not disappoint tourists or locals. Hidden just a few steps away from the bustling waterfront, you’ll discover a very walkable community (walk score of 78) rich in history with a diverse range of sites and activities. 

Neighbourhood Gems

Pilot Street Gnome Homes

What a delight to stumble upon these on route to a men’s rugby game. I had no idea these vignettes existed but they are absolutely charming. They will please small children and adults alike – be sure to incorporate a stop on Pilot Street on your walking route. 

James Bay Athletic Association

Founded in 1886, the James Bay Athletic Association (JBAA) is the oldest athletic association on the Pacific Coast and is home to the Bears (affectionately known as the “Bays”) rugby clubs. The adjacent Macdonald field is alive with thrilling action on numerous Saturdays from September through April with many of the clubs that play here boasting rosters comprising of aspiring and current Team Canada players. Stop by, grab a beer in the clubhouse (19+) and enjoy the game – everyone is welcome.

Clarence Street Decorated Trees

There’s a tree in James Bay you simply must stop by to see. The homeowner, whose house this particular tree is in front of, paid tribute to his late grandmother by stringing a porcelain tea cup from the tree. Every time he would see the tea cup, he thought of his grandmother and her passion for teas. It seems some friends and neighbours soon learned about the tea cup in the tree and started adding to the collection. Today there has got to be 50 tea cups – and a tea pot, hanging from the tree. 

But the tea cup tree wasn’t the only surprise.

Directly across the street from the tea cup tree is one decorated with Christmas ornaments. While strolling through James Bay to check out all the gems, be sure to head to Clarence Street to see these incredibly unique trees.  

Community Gardens

Community gardens are becoming the hallmark of sustainable, livable communities and the local residents should be proud of what they have developed in this neighbourhood. On the south side of Macdonald field lies the Michigan Street Allotment Garden and beside the JBAA Clubhouse is the JB Neighbourhood Garden of All Sorts. On any given day there are gardeners tending their crops and visitors enjoying the tranquil setting. Stop by and have a rest. 

Historic Architecture

For well preserved examples of vintage architecture with features such as gables, 6 over 1 double-hung windows, finials, drop finials and corbelled chimneys, look no further than this neighbourhood. Grab a copy of The Heritage Walking Tour No. 2 brochure (available at Victoria City Hall or the Tourist Info Centre at the Inner Harbour) which highlights the beautiful homes of the area. This particular self-guided tour starts and ends at the Ogden Point Breakwater and will cover approximately 3.5 km (approximately 2.2 miles). If you want to stop to rest or re-hydrate along the way, there are plenty of small parks and quaint establishments.

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

A horse-drawn carriage ride is an iconic sightseeing activity in Victoria BC. One of several tours that is offered is an unforgettable ride along the quaint streets of this beautiful, historic neighbourhood or choose one of the other tours such as the idyllic Beacon Hill Park route. You will not be disappointed as you sit back in your carriage, enjoy the majestic beauty of the Belgian, Percheron or Clydesdale draft horses and take in the scenery of our charming city. 

Emily Carr House

No visit to James Bay is complete without a stop at Emily Carr House. Take the indoor tour if you have time or simply enjoy the architecture of the home and the replica paintings on display throughout the property. 

Next time you are in James Bay, I invite you to take in one of my favourite things and be sure to connect with me on Facebook to let me know which hidden gems I have missed. 

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