Downtown Victoria Tour 
Government Street – 700 Block

Inner Harbour Causeway

The Inner Harbour Causeway runs along the waterfront on the west side of the 700 block of Government Street. It consists of a granite retaining wall, built in 1903-1904 on the west side of Government Street, with a very popular pedestrian walkway, built in 1974 along the base of the retaining wall.

It is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, which considers it an excellent example of 1970’s urban planning.

The Empress Hotel and the Causeway, seen from the Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street

The Empress Hotel and the Causeway, seen from the Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street

The Belmont Building and the Causeway, seen from the Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street

The Belmont Building and the Causeway, seen from the Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street

Additional Information About the Inner Harbour Causeway

 

A Brief History of the Inner Harbour Causeway

The origins of the Inner Harbour Causeway date to 1903 and planning for construction of the Empress Hotel.

At that time the land now occupied by the Empress Hotel was a tidal inlet called James Bay, extending east for nearly two blocks.

A bridge crossed James Bay where Government Street runs now.

When plans for the Empress Hotel were completed in 1903, a coffer dam was built where the Causeway wall stands now, With the coffer dam in place, James Bay was drained and filled in. The Empress Hotel was then built between 1904 and 1908 on the reclaimed land that had formerly been James Bay.

For most of its history, the Causeway consisted primarily of a retaining wall along Government Street.

In the early 1970’s the City of Victoria wanted to attract more pedestrian traffic into downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour area. To evaluate the viability of this idea, the City commissioned an Inner Harbour Study from Vancouver based Arthur Erickson Architects in 1973.

One of the recommendations was for a pedestrian walkway along the waterfront.

The present pedestrian walkway was designed by architect Norm Hotson, of Arthur Erickson Architects and was built by the City of Victoria in 1974.

The Inner Harbour Causeway formally recognized by the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 1996 and was listed in 2004.

Here are links to some historic photos of the Causeway:

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