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Our History

Timeline of Five Star Whale Watching, Victoria, B.C.


1985 to 2021:  Five Star Charters/Whale Watching in Victoria, BC, started in 1985 and still operates under the same name. Here is a summary of how we began at a time when most people were not proclaiming, “We Like Our Whales Wild!”.

Five Star’s original owners, Kathy and Eric Johnson, endured and succeeded because of their hard work and sheer determination; their adherence to the “Golden Rule” in treating their clients and staff as they would like to be treated; their ability to recognize talent in young, idealistic, and enthusiastic people;  a willingness to empower staff to be early adopters of technology; their support for marine wildlife and environmental research and education; and, yes, some “luck” in that their vision of a company that could entertain and educate at the same time has been well received and become the standard for responsible wildlife viewing.

From modest beginnings and through turbulent times, Kathy and Eric stayed the course. In fact, it was a time only 10 years removed from one of the darkest times for the Southern Resident Killer Whales (J, K, & L pods of “fish-eating” orcas). This was the live-captures of at least 36 of the estimated 100 to 110 Resident Killer Whales living in these waters at the time.

But a generation of people raised on John C. Lilly’s “Man and Dolphin” (1961), Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”(1962), the recordings of humpback whale songs in National Geographic by Roger Payne in 1970, the environmental movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, and Eric Hoyt’s “The Whale Watcher’s Handbook” (1984) and “Orca: The Whale Called “Killer””(1985) was about to change all that: