In the late 1850s, gold strikes on the mainland’s Thompson and Fraser Rivers brought thousands of gold miners into Victoria , the region’s only port and source of supplies. Overnight, Victoria became a classic boomtown, but with a distinctly British flavor; most of the company men, early settlers, and military personnel firmly maintained their homeland traditions and celebrations. Even after the gold rush ended, Victoria remained an energetic bastion of military, economic, and political activity, and was officially incorporated as a city in 1862.
In 1868, two years after the colonies of Vancouver Island  and British Columbia  were united, Victoria was made capital. Through the two world wars, Victoria continued to grow. The commencement of ferry service between Tsawwassen and Sidney  in 1903 created a small population boom, but Victoria has always lagged well behind Vancouver  in the population stake.