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Saanich Peninsula

November 10, 2015 by Martin Vernon

The city of Victoria lies at the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, a narrow 30 km (20 mile) north-south neck of land jutting out on the south eastern corner of Vancouver Island. At the north end of the Peninsula is Sidney, Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and the BC Ferries terminal. In between lies a pastoral land of rolling hills and scattered communities and attractions which should be explored on a visit to the Victoria area.

  • The Butchart Gardens is at Brentwood Bay on the west side of the Saanich Peninsula Relaxing at Beaver Lake on the Saanich Peninsula
  • Nearby is Butterfly Gardens, a tropical jungle delight
  • Stroll through the quiet the themed Gardens at HCP
  • The warm waters of Brentwood Bay are a good place for kayaking
  • Numerous provincial and regional parks for gentle strolls or tougher hikes: Gowlland Tod, Mount Work, John Dean Park, Mount Douglas
  • Or there’s the Lochside Trail down the easterly side of the peninsula, connecting with the Galloping Goose Trail
  • Walk around the freshwater lakes of Elk / Beaver Lake or Durrance Lake, a popular swimming spot
  • Stroll along coastal beaches at Cordova Bay or Patricia Bay with their driftwood and shells, or discover a quiet cove
  • Agriculture surrounds you, past and present. Even a lavender farm
  • Savour the flavours at wineries and farm stands with wines, fruit and local produce
  • Play a round of golf year-round on our many courses
  • Tackle a world-class climbing wall
  • Browse through the Sidney bookshops or the Thursday evening street market.
  • Also in Sidney: visit the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre or take a ferry trip to Sidney Spit.

… there really is something for everyone!

You’ll see some unique aspects of life here such as local distinctive trees: the Arbutus with its rust-coloured peeling trunks and the twisted branches of the Garry Oak, both growing on rocky ground. Driving around the Saanich Peninsula you become aware that Coast Salish people lived here, and still do on reserves mostly overlooking the Saanich Inlet on the west; the Tsartlip, Tsawaout, Tseycum and Pauquachin first nations. Their names can be confusing but so can others, with such municipalities as Saanich, Central Saanich and North Saanich, and the roads named Saanich Road, Central Saanich Road, East Saanich Road and West Saanich Road. But you can’t go too far wrong on this little self-contained strip of land.

 

The two faces of Sidney BC

June 20, 2015 by Martin Vernon

For many years I considered Sidney to be a quiet seaside town full of seniors, having a pleasant ocean-side walk and plenty of bookshops but where the greatest excitement was dodging electric scooters. While there’s some truth in all this I had failed to see that there are two faces of Sidney BC.

Sidney BC

The town of Sidney is near the northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula, close to Victoria International AirportĀ  (YYJ) and the BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries terminals, 30 minutes from downtown Victoria. It’s true that its population of 12,000 is dominated by seniors but it is a thriving self-contained friendly community that offers interesting attractions for visitors.

Enjoy a walk along the 2.5 km (1.5 mile) waterfront walkway passing the fishing pier and small fish market, looking across to Sidney Island from the Sculpture Walk. A concert or play may take place at the bandshell. Yards away is the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. It is not surprising that you can enjoy whale-watching, kayaking, fishing and boating here but there’s also lawn bowling or a bowling lane. Beacon Avenue and side streets has all the shopping services you’re likely to need, punctuated by numerous bookstores in Canada’s only Booktown.

All this, set within a calm relaxing atmosphere is what you’d expect in a town with so many retired people. But the best aspect of Sidney is experienced on summer evenings.

Sidney Street Market

My favourite street market in the Victoria area is enjoyed on Thursday evenings, May to August at the Sidney Street Market. The sleepy town bursts into life as Beacon Avenue, the main street, is lined with booths and packed with crowds of happy people of all ages. Artisans predominate, with food and good musicians adding to the mix. It is a joy!

Sidney Days, during the Canada Day (1st July) weekend celebrates with happy faces at the parade, build-a-boat competition and fireworks. If your visit is at other dates there are special Sidney BC annual events.

Sidney is also handy as a venue of a British Columbia Tourism Information Centre.


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