Vancouver  and Victoria  lie on Canada’s west coast, in British Columbia, the third largest of Canada’s provinces (behind Ontario and Quebec). Vancouver, the larger of the two cities, is on the mainland, contained by the geological boundary of the Coast Mountains to the north and the political boundary of an international border to the south. Victoria lies at the southern tip of Vancouver Island , the largest island along North America’s west coast.
By a quirk of history, it lies south of the 49th parallel, the dividing line between the rest of Canada and the United States. Separating Vancouver Island from mainland British Columbia  is the Strait of Georgia, an island-studded waterway, rich in wildlife and always busy with passenger, freight, and pleasure vessels.