Victoria: City of Love? Amazon ranks Canada's 'most romantic' cities
In this file photo, the Fairmont Empress Hotel at the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is shown on Sunday, May 4, 2008. (Deddeda Stemler/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A harbour with ocean views, the ivy-covered Empress Hotel, a charming Old Town and the stone walls of the B.C. legislature: welcome to Canada's "most romantic city."
For the fourth year in a row, Victoria, B.C. has been crowned the top spot for lovers in Canada.
According to annual rankings by Amazon.ca, Victoria residents buy more romance novels, relationship books, romantic comedies, romantic music, jewelry and "sexual wellness products" than any other Canadians.
The rankings are based on Amazon.ca sales between Jan. 1, 2015 and Jan. 1, 2016, and broken down on a per capita basis in cities with more than 80,000 residents.
Compared to last year's list, the top three cities remained unchanged. Victoria, B.C., held onto first place, North Vancouver, B.C., stayed in second, and Waterloo, Ont. ranked third.
Meanwhile, Vancouver, B.C. rose from ninth to fourth, and Saskatoon, Sask., slipped from fourth to fifth.
'We are a romantic city. It is special.'
Victoria, B.C. local John Espley credited the city's natural beauty with inspiring the residents' romantic tendencies.
"It's the environment," Espley said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca from Victoria, B.C. "Being on the tip of an island, you can take a romantic walk along the waterfront almost anywhere (in the city)."
Espley, who works as a director of communications for B.C.-based hotel company Accent Inns, said the city's romantic reputation has boosted tourism and helped locals appreciate their surroundings.
"We definitely have seen increased numbers in the city," he said. "And it's even just sparked the locals to look again and say 'Yeah, we are a romantic city. It is special.' "
In the years since Victoria first claimed the "most romantic" title, the local hospitality industry has capitalized on the ranking.
The Tourism Victoria website markets the city as an ideal couples' destination, and offers a wide range of suggestions for romantic outings, from picnics on the beach to strolls through the flowering Butchart Gardens.
The city's Hotel Zed, which is run by Accent Inns, marks Valentine's Day by offering a "Nooner" package. The deal, which made headlines when it launched last year, offers lovers a chance to rent a room from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. for $50.
"The idea is that you can surprise that special loved one with a little break over their extended lunch and have a real special, unusual Valentines," Espley said.
Meanwhile, at the locally run Inn at Laurel Point, the waterfront hotel runs a "Month of Love" campaign from mid-January until mid-February.
During this time, managing director Ian Powell said the inn has a board in the lobby where visitors can leave love notes and the staff uniforms are adorned with hearts.
Visitors also have the chance to pick between a "nice" package, which includes a romantic bath kit and B.C. sparkling wine, and the "naughty" package, which includes a bottle of Velvet Devil Merlot, and a "naughty love kit" with condoms and other intimate accessories.
While Espley credited the city's nature for its romantic reputation, Powell said he thought the city's newfound youth is behind the boom in romance.
Thanks to its multiple university campuses and a thriving tech industry, Powell said Victoria is shedding its one-time reputation as a retirement town.
And once couples experience a romantic weekend in the city, Powell said many keep coming back for anniversaries, special events and weddings.
"I would say our wedding business has boomed as a result of this," he said.
Books, movies, jewelry: Victoria comes first across the board
In addition to topping the overall rankings, Victoria, B.C., maintained a firm lead across the board when Amazon divided the results by product type.
For example, when it came to books, romantics in Victoria, B.C. bought the most love-themed literature.
North Vancouver, B.C., Waterloo, Ont., Saskatoon, Sask., and Winnipeg, Man., rounded out the rest of the top five purchasers of romance books, and the steamy "Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian" ranked as the most-bought novel.
Victoria, B.C. also topped the list of cities buying romantic movies, followed by Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and Kingston, Ont.
Date night favourites this year included "The Hundred-Foot Journey," and the classic rom coms "Pretty Women" and "While You Were Sleeping."
When it came to lavish gifts, Victoria, B.C., Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and Waterloo, Ont., residents were the top cities for purchasing jewelry. And in terms of crooning love songs, Victoria, B.C., North Vancouver, B.C., Waterloo, Ont., Kingston, Ont. and Guelph, Ont., bought the most music.
Overall, this year's top 20 list was dominated by cities in the British Columbia and Ontario, though Saskatoon, Sask. did manage to slip in at fifth place and Edmonton, Alta., ranked 10th.
Meanwhile, Toronto, Ont., Montreal, Que., Halifax, N.S., and Ottawa, Ont., were all absent from the list.
The top 20 most romantic cities in Canada, according to Amazon.ca:
- Victoria, B.C.
- North Vancouver, B.C.
- Waterloo, Ont.
- Vancouver, B.C.
- Saskatoon, Sask.
- Calgary, Alta.
- Kingston, Ont.
- Guelph, Ont.
- Oakville, Ont.
- Edmonton, Alta.
- Lethbridge, Alta.
- Kelowna, B.C.
- Regina, Sask.
- Red Deer, Alta.
- Nanaimo, B.C.
- Winnipeg, Man.
- London, Ont.
- Langley, B.C.
- Kitchener, Ont.
- Kamloops, B.C.