Mid-Block Walkways of Victoria - Take Two

The new Anian Surf Shop
As I said in the first take on mid-block walkways, there are a lot of them in our city for good and bad. Today we are going to look at likely the second longest one after the one between Blanshard and Douglas. This one lies between Wharf/Store Street and Government Street and travels from Discovery all the way through to Fort.

The walk starts in front of the only store that I am aware of that is completely off the grid. Anian, is a surf clothing shop that recently opened. Apparently, when the shop was acquired it wasn't connected with power lines and the owners decided to purchase solar panels rather than pay for BC Hydro to hook them up. 
Small Staircase that will lead you to
Herald Street

Across the street is a crude metal fence opening that lets you into the Capital Iron parking lot. Cross the parking lot to the south east, make sure you take in one of the largest, and oddest, murals in the city to your left. When you get to Chatham Street, jaywalk across and veer into a small parking lot with a four story brick building at the end of it. At the end of the parking lot you will find a small staircase on the right-hand side. The stairs open onto another small parking lot that empties onto Herald Street. 

[If you want to try another mid block passage, there is another one, two buildings to the east along Chatham, that also cuts through to Herald Street. Since it is closer to Government Street and requires a significant detour to the east and then west, I focused on the one I did.] 

Take the crosswalk to your left across the street and you should see a small opening in a building between the Union Pacific Coffee House and Moore Wilson Architecture. This is the beginning of Dragon Alley.

In the late 1990's, I worked at the Herald Street Centre for the Arts (Now it is a designer
Entrance to Dragon Alley
furniture store). It was at this time that they built Dragon Alley and the buildings within it. Prior to that it was a series of abandoned buildings that had previously been housing for residents of Chinatown. Dragon Alley is now home to a selection of interesting stores. Once you make it through you will emerge onto Fisgard Street in the middle of Chinatown. You will need to jaywalk here (jaywalking on Fisgard is almost part of the experience). You can choose to take the tourist passage of Fan Tan Alley or the brand new Theatre Alley that runs through the Union Building. Theatre Alley gets its name from a previous passage that existed many years ago and made its way to a Chinese Theatre that was situated mid block. As you wind through the building you get some interesting views of the central part of Chinatown. 


When you get to Pandora Avenue, turn to your left and cross at the crosswalk. Just to the right of the Solstice Cafe is the entrance to Market Square. Market Square is a unique shopping experience. It is a multi level mall built out of a collection of heritage buildings. It was built in the 1980's and while a beautifully pulled together place, it has never really become the shopping mecca that the owners had hoped. It is worthwhile to spend a little while exploring here before heading to the Johnson Street entrance gate. 
Market Square

Waddington Alley

Once outside the gate, use the crosswalk and then turn right. Walk along the sidewalk until you get to Willie's Bakery. Around the corner is Waddington Alley, this is the next walkway which will take you to Yates Street. As you walk along the alley you will see the entrance to Il Terrazo, one of the longest running good restaurants in the city. Just past there, you will see a plaque on the wall for the Morley Soda Factory. This old brick building has recently been converted into condos, but at one time produced soda water and other beverages for the young city of Victoria. 

When you get to Yates Street you will need to jaywalk and turn to the left. In between The Reef and The Hawk and Hen is Commercial Alley. As you walk through you will see a small  passage that connects to the back stairs of the Yates Street Parkade. If you are not too tired, the view from the top of the parkade is amazing. 
Brick archway leading out of
Bastion Square

Commercial Alley exits into Bastion Square, one of the nicest public spaces in the city. It is hard imagine that it used to just be a normal street. The City built the public space in the hopes of enlivening what was a derelict part of town. Now the Square is full of life and home to an artisan market for most of the summer. 

We are down to our last leg of the mid-block walkway. On the far side of the square when you come out of commercial alley are a set of brick arches. It is a bit dark but you want to walk underneath them. Follow the small alley until you see where it opens up to the left. Head up to a small parking lot. You will now be at the corner of Fort Street and Langley Street. This is the end of this walk. 

Let me know about some of the interesting things you saw!

Colourful street art at the end of the walk



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