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wayne albertson articles

Victoria International Airport

I am now in my 25th year as a resident of ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ and it increasingly seems that this has always been my home. I have always had an appreciation of history and, living here, I feel constantly surrounded by it.

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about my first visit to B.C. back in August 1983. Expo ’86 was still in the planning stages and B.C. Place was just beginning construction. YVR was still one (very busy) terminal and Richmond still had a small-town atmosphere and a lot of farmland.

A must for any tourist was to take a B.C. ferry ride over to Vancouver Island and tour the provincial capital, Victoria.

One of the most interesting of the tourist activities for me was when it was time to return to Toronto and my first visit to Victoria ‘International’ Airport. I was still new to the novelty of having airline passes and had never flown out of a smaller airport before. I wondered why the airport was deemed ‘International’ until I noticed that there were direct flights between Victoria and Seattle by a few regional airlines.

I was fascinated by how informal it all seemed to simply walk up to the agent and hand her my employee trip pass. In those days, we had no way of checking the flight loads so the agent casually mentioned, “don’t worry, lots of room” as she handed me my boarding pass.

If I remember correctly, Air BC was not yet an Air Canada connector, so the main airline still served the YYJ – YVR route. I found myself climbing air stairs of a DC-9 as one of not more than a dozen passengers and having my choice of window seats for the short 20-minute flight; I doubt that we spent more than 2 minutes at the cruising altitude of 3000 feet.

Today, Victoria International Airport serves over 2,000,000 passengers annually and is the 11th busiest airport in Canada. Air Canada Express operates commuter service to YVR and YYC and Rouge operates direct flights to YYZ and (seasonally) YUL.

A variety of regional and charter airlines offer service to Seattle, British Columbia, Alberta and southern sun destinations.

Additional links and references:

Victoria International Airport at Wikipedia

YYJ History (The Patricia Bay Airport) at British Columbia Aviation Museum

YYJ Historical Photo Galley (TCA Lockheed Lodestar image below)

History of Saanich Peninsula from the Sidney Museum

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