Ready for an intriguing stop to add to your next trip to Victoria? The famed Fan Tan Alley has a gritty history and even more fascinating development over the years. Oh, and at less than three feet wide at its narrowest, it happens to be the narrowest commercial street in North America. Talk about packing a lot into a small space!

Originally a gambling district in one of the oldest surviving Chinatowns on the continent, Fan Tan Alley is now home to a myriad of local shops, restaurants, and galleries, including a record store called The Turntable, a slew of gift shops and specialty stores, Friends and Family Bake, and The Faraway vintage clothing, to name a few.

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fan tan alley victoria bc
Photo via Eric Lysenko / Shutterstock

Filming at Fan Tan Alley

What’s more, the alley has had its fair share of air time on the silver screen – because nothing raises the stakes for a “Hollywood action flick” like a car chase down one of the narrowest streets around.

Starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, the 1990 film Bird on a Wire filmed its iconic motorcycle chase down the alley, which sounds like a reason in itself to visit, if you ask us.

The film also captured the nearby Bastion Square in several scenes, which is known for its historic pubs, outdoor markets, and popular restaurants.

The area’s dark history

Located between Fisgard and Johson Streets, visitors of Fan Tan can imagine a time when gambling parlours and opium dens dominated the alley. And for an even ‘spookier’ experience, head to the nearby Helmcken Alley in Bastion Square, which is said to be haunted on account of its former jailhouse.

Since the prison’s demolition in 1885, the area has been ‘haunted’ by the executions that took place there, as well as its graveyard for unclaimed bodies of prisoners.

So there you have it, BC. If you’re looking for a slice of local history that’s on the ‘spookier’ side, you know where to look.

Fan Tan Alley 

Where: Victoria, BC