First inhabited by Wsanec First Nations people, the Saanich Peninsula is a bountiful countryside where rural and urban lifestyles blend well together.
Central Saanich has a rich agricultural heritage, with farmland in the rural community comprising almost two-thirds of the municipality. While enjoying the benefits of a high-quality rural lifestyle, Central Saanich is within easy access of Victoria, the Victoria International Airport, and the BC Ferries’ terminal at Swartz Bay.
The Municipality of Central Saanich, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in December 2000, includes the towns of Brentwood Bay and Saanichton, and numerous regional and provincial parks.
Location: Central Saanich is located on the Saanich Peninsula of southern Vancouver Island, approximately 13 miles (21 km) north of Victoria. Central Saanich is bounded on the north by the District of North Saanich, on the South by the District of Saanich, on the east by Haro Strait and on the west by the Saanich Inlet.
Stop in at the village of Brentwood Bay, where you’ll find all amenities, including excellent accommodation, waterfront restaurants, shopping, and marina facilities. Brentwood Village is also a good jumping-off point for kayakers, canoeists and mountain hikers.
The rural community of Saanichton is well known for flowers and rose gardens. Bed and breakfast homes and riding stables are nestled alongside parks, campgrounds, old-growth forests and small farms.
The Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry is a convenient 25-minute route across the Saanich Inlet for those travelling to or from the Swartz Bay terminal and destinations north of Victoria. This scenic route bypasses Victoria and the Malahat.
Butchart Gardens: Once a limestone quarry, world-famous Butchart Gardens is now filled with flowers, a luxurious 20-hectare estate attracting over one million visitors a year. Butchart delights visitors from around the world with wonderful floral displays and spectacular views as visitors stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns. From the exquisite Sunken Garden to the charming Rose Garden, this show garden still maintains the gracious traditions that have spanned almost 100 years. Visitors enjoy summer evening light displays, Saturday night fireworks in July and August and Christmas lights and carollers during December.
At Victoria Butterfly Gardens you can stroll amidst hundreds of exotic butterflies flying free in an indoor tropical rainforest. Witness the entire life cycle of these amazing insects. The spectacular flowering plants and foliage, fascinating birds, waterfalls and stream all contribute to make this a photographer’s paradise, and a truly memorable experience for the entire family.
The Saanich Historical Artifacts Society tells the story of farming, country life and industry on Vancouver Island, with rural artifacts dating back to the early 1800s. View one of Western Canada’s largest collections of working steam engines, tractors, agricultural machinery, antique farm equipment, historic buildings, and household and industrial artifacts. The society hosts an annual Summer Fair on the farm and museum grounds, held on Father’s Day each June, and Fall threshing on the third weekend in September. The 29-acre park offers picnic tables, nature trails and a pond. Located at 7321 Lochside Drive in Saanichton, alongside the Pat Bay Highway, between Victoria and Sidney.
The Saanich Pioneers Society manages the Log Cabin Museum on East Saanich Road in Saanichton. The museum contains a collection of Native and pioneer artifacts, and local archives. Activities include school tours and public education in the history of the Saanich Peninsula. Open Mondays and Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm. Open at other times by appointment.
The Saanich Fall Fair, held every Labour Day weekend features prize-winning produce and livestock, farm and crafts displays, live entertainment and a midway.
The annual Central Saanich Days celebration is held at Centennial Park on BC Day Weekend, the first weekend in August, sponsored by the Central Saanich Lions Club. Festivities include pancake breakfasts, hay rides, face painting, children’s games, a petting Farm, a slowpitch tournament … and lots more!
The Saanichton Christmas Tree and Ostrich Farm on East Saanich Road offers a 1-hour tour of Christmas tree and ostrich operations. Discuss different types of Christmas trees, stump culture, and collect fir cones for decorations. Open from October to December.
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park protects a significant part of the Gowlland Range, one of the last remaining natural areas in Greater Victoria and a particularly rich area of biodiversity. Also protected is a portion of the natural shoreline and uplands in Tod Inlet, which adjoins the Saanich Inlet south of Brentwood Bay. Old mining and logging roads in the 1,219-hectare park now provide over 25 miles (40 km) of hiking trails. There are three access points to the park, which shares a common boundary with Mount Work Regional Park, and provides stunning views of Greater Victoria, Saanich Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Mount Work Regional Park: Three small lakes dot the slopes of Mount Work Regional Park. Depending on your mood, the weather, and the season, freshen up in Durrance or Pease Lake on the north side of the park once you’ve completed the hike to the top of the mountain, or just relax at lakeside and enjoy the woodland ambience. Fork Lake lies at the south end of the hiking trail to the summit of Mount Work.
Centennial Park on Wallace Drive features a lacrosse box, soccer pitches, baseball and softball fields, picnic shelters, horseshoe pitches, tennis courts, a bowling green, a children’s playground, and the Centennial Park Fieldhouse.
Island View Beach Regional Park south of Sidney offers a gentle cobble- and driftwood-strewn beach, with good views of James and Sidney Islands and wildlife viewing in the open fields behind the beach. Locals use the beach area fronting Indian reserve land north of the park for discreet, clothing-optional tanning. Island View Beach is a favourite beachcombing area, and a boat ramp is conveniently located at the entrance to the park.
Hiking: Although there are many hiking trails in rural Central Saanich, just walking the country roads through lovely pastoral landscapes of rolling fields and hedgerows can be very pleasant, with many of the quiet roads being used to link up the more popular hiking trails. One such walk commences at John Dean Provincial Park, descending southward following the Gail Wickens Horse Trail, Thomson Road, Mount Newton Cross Road, Malcolm Road (at Saanichton School) and Tomlinson Road to Centennial Park, which is criss-crossed with walking trails.
Butterfield Park on Mount Newton Cross Road at Thomson Place offers pleasant strolls through 5.3 hectares of what was once the South Hill poultry farm. Willow Way is a pleasant 10-km circle route for cyclists, hikers and horseriders through narrow roads and along unopened road rights-of-way beside fences, in the flat or rolling farmlands of Central Saanich. Commencing at Centennial Park, the route takes in Gore Nature Park, Hardy Park, and the seawall promenade at Brentwood Bay, before returning via Wallace Road and West Saanich Road to Centennial Park.
Biking: The northern trailhead of the Lochside Trail is near the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. The picturesque multi–use Lochside Regional Trail, formerly a railway line, stretches from Swartz Bay to Victoria, passed beaches, farmland, and wetlands, down country lanes and beside suburban backyards. The trail has a more civilized personality than its more rural cousin, the Galloping Goose Trail, to which it connects near downtown Victoria. While some parts of the Lochside Trail are off-road, and others downright pastoral, in some places trail visitors must share paved or gravel public roads with motor vehicles and farm vehicles. Along the way it passes near Island View Beach Regional Park, a good place to take a detour and relax on the beach.
A series of rough roads and dike trails doubles as bike pathways in the marsh inland from Island View Beach Regional Park. Just begin pedalling out along one of the trails that lead from the beach into the marsh. Some of the trails eventually lead through the marsh back out onto the north end of the beach. Unfortunately, once there you won’t make much headway, as your tires sink in the sand.
Wildlife: Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is home to deer, cougars, black bears and over 100 species of birds – more than 20% of British Columbia’s rare plants grow here! On the western boundary of Central Saanich, Saanich Inlet is a unique, shallow-mouthed fjord – a fragile backyard wilderness visited by eagles, ospreys, minks, river otters and on occasion pods of killer whales.
Golf: The Victoria area boasts 8 championship golf courses in close proximity, including Cordova Bay Golf Club, Olympic View Golf Club, Gorge Vale Golf Club, Royal Colwood Golf Club, and Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club. Nearby Oak Bay has the Victoria Golf Club and Uplands Golf Course.
Victoria Golf Vacations.
Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
To the north of Central Saanich is North Saanich. Said to be the finest rural-residential area in all of Canada, North Saanich boasts a long coastline on three sides, enveloping agricultural farmlands, cosy bays and generous protected parklands.
To the south of Central Saanich is Saanich, the largest municipality in Greater Victoria. Saanich offers the charm of country life mingled with the convenience of urban residential neighbourhoods. Almost everywhere you turn in Saanich there’s a place to enjoy the great outdoors, whether it’s a mountain park, a riverside path or an ocean beach.