Iconic buildings rise up on either side of tour groups as they trail guides who regale them with stories and historical insights. Traversing a total of 12 Victoria and Vancouver neighbourhoods, the Architectural Institute of British Columbia’s walking architecture tours illuminate pivotal and noteworthy structures throughout the city. In Victoria, explorers can ramble through Chinatown—the oldest Chinatown in the nation—or feel the waterfront breeze as it braids their hair on the famous harbour’s inner shores. Alternatively, Vancouver tourists can embed themselves in the city’s first neighbourhood, Strathcona, or investigate industrial expansion by roaming Yaletown.
The tours are just one of the many tools the Institute uses to raise architecture awareness. Established in 1920 to bring the profession's interest in line with the public, the institute doles out annual awards for outstanding architecture, displaying the winners in a public gallery. Meanwhile, their free architectural advice program for do-it-yourself homebuilders prevents common mishaps, such as building a second storey before building the first floor.