Located at the foot of Douglas Street, Beacon Hill Park is the grand showpiece of Victoria, a city with a long and proud tradition of gardening. Set aside in 1858 by James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island, the 75-hectare (200 acre) plot of land was officially established as a park in 1882. Beacon Hill Park was named after a pair of masts strategically placed on a hill to act as a beacon and navigational aid to mariners approaching Victoria’s inner harbour.
Prior to the arrival of settlers, of course, the area was the traditional territory of the Salish people, who had lived here for thousands of years. A tangled web of events since then has displaced the original dwellers, but their history is evident in the petroglyphs that adorn the shoreline and in the middens of seashells mounded up beside the beaches on Strait of Juan de Fuca. The first of the Indian people arrived in the region shortly after the ice of the last glacial age had begun to retreat some 14,000 years ago.
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Whilst the park boasts considerable areas of natural land in a native habitat, most of the park is beautifully landscaped and manicured with bridges, lakes and ponds, and an alpine and rock garden. Wondrous displays of exotic and native trees, including Garry Oak, Arbutus, Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar, birch, willow and maples grace the park – to name just a few of the many.
Amongst the pond lilies of Goodacre and Fountain Lakes, a variety of waterfowl go about their business, thrilling visitors of all ages. In a copse of Douglas-fir trees an active heronry raucously sounds its presence whilst a pair of Bald Eagles nests nearby.
A delightful quiet envelops this sunny spot in Victoria, where walking trails link with neighbourhood streets that lead down into the busy hum of commercial activity. Attractions in the park include the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. The children’s petting zoo at historic Beacon Hill Park gives hands-on experience, which is enjoyed by young and old.
March 15 – April 30 / 10:00 – 4:00
May 1 – Labour Day / 10:00 – 5:00
Fall Hours: Labour Day – Thanksgiving / 11:00 – 4:00
Other attractions include sports fields and playgrounds, a bandshell and the world’s tallest free-standing totem pole. The 38.8-metre (128-foot) masterpiece was created by renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist Mungo Martin in 1956, and lovingly restored to its original splendour 46 years later.
Beacon Hill Park is located south of downtown Victoria, between the downtown core and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and has easy access on Douglas Street, Dallas Road, and Cook Street. Main entrances to the park are located east of Douglas Street between Southgate Street and Dallas Road. The Park is within easy walking distance of attractions and hotels around the Inner Harbour in Victoria.
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- This park is a Regional Park, Municipal Park, or proposed park, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (National Parks) or the BC Ministry of Environment (BC Parks).