Shop at independent boutique stores, enjoy free live music and dance performances and see historical buildings at this popular downtown Victoria street.
At Lower Johnson you can shop until you drop at fashion and cosmetic shops. Those who are into historical architecture will love looking at the facades of the heritage buildings. Free cultural events are great for everyone looking for some entertainment.
Known locally as LoJo, Lower Johnson is one of Victoria’s darlings when it comes to shopping. The area was originally the home of hotels and illegal opium factories that supported immigrant life during British Columbia’s gold rush in the 1850s.
Take a walk along the street to admire the Victorian-era buildings painted different colors. Photographers will enjoy taking photos of the blue-and-yellow W.C. Cameron building, which dates to 1888. Also look for the Victoria Box and Paper Building, which remains part of Oriental Alley. The alley was one of Victoria’s historic secret passageways. Don’t miss Willie’s Bakery: Established in 1887, it is the oldest bakery in British Columbia.
A major feature of Lower Johnson is Market Square. Come here to find trendy clothing and home decor stores, cafés and restaurants. Set around a courtyard, the businesses occupy the buildings of 19th-century shipping offices, depositories and saloons. Enjoy free cultural events at the square, such as live music, dance performances and art exhibitions. Children will appreciate the handicraft and painting activities of the Fringe Kids Festival, which takes place each August. Find more event details on the Market Square official website.
Combine a visit to Lower Johnson with a visit to Bastion Square with its street performers. You’ll find more fashion and accessory stores on nearby Trounce Alley. Also explore Chinatown Victoria, north of Market Square. This is one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America and is home to old teahouses, cosy shops, Asian restaurants and fortune tellers in near-hidden alleyways.
Lower Johnson runs between Wharf Street and Government Street in downtown Victoria and is just a short walk from the Inner Harbour. Pay-and-display street parking is available along Johnson Street and public buses stop nearby.