During my pregnancy last year, my husband and I travelled through Canada for a final road trip as a twosome. We’d heard great things and, as I was nearly four months along, I wanted to be in an English-speaking country known for its health care. I was blown away by how much we loved it.
Flying into a very snowy Toronto, we spent a few weeks going to cool art installations, visiting Niagara Falls and enjoying the huge variety of places to eat. Our favourite spot was The Distillery District with its quaint 19th-century buildings and cobblestone streets filled with indie bars and boutiques.
Then we headed up to Montreal and Quebec, two gorgeous Canadian cities with a hint of French charm. But it was Vancouver Island, where Harry and Meghan have spent the last six weeks, that we truly fell in love with.
We stayed in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, which sits on the southern end of Vancouver Island. There are Insta-worthy sights everywhere you look, from yellow water taxis on the harbour to grand historic buildings. We visited in spring when cherry blossom trees were flowering and whale watching trips were picking up. The sun shone every day, but it never got uncomfortably hot.
The city’s Chinatown (above) was buzzing with charm without feeling frantic and the vast sculpted gardens are a scene of zen. The island is named after Queen Victoria so there’s a strong sense of Britishness there too.
But it was the people who were the true highlight. So friendly and welcoming, we felt instantly at home. With my baby bump now showing, we were greeted by smiles and well-wishes - and when I’d head home to bed, my husband would stay at the bar for hours, happily chatting to the locals.
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So I wasn’t at all surprised to hear Harry and Meghan would be setting up a second home there. It’s such a peaceful place with vast natural beauty, great weather and a community vibe. After living in London for 12 years, it was the perfect respite for us and I’m sure it will be for the Sussexes too.
Follow Jessica Vince on Instagram (@Jessica_Vince) to watch as she navigates life as a first-time mum.