The rolling interior lands of North Saanich afford sweeping views of hills and valleys, and a generous feeling of open space and rapport with nature.
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. North Saanich enjoys unexcelled views of water, islands and mountains, along with close proximity to air and sea transportation.
Eetsun-Hunnumut, the Saanich language motto of North Saanich, is loosely translated to mean “the land where it is good to be”. Agriculture is very important to the municipality today, as evidenced by the number of farms, and roadside produce and flower stands.
Communities in North Saanich include Deep Cove, Sidney and the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. North Saanich has an extensive park and trails network linking municipal, regional, and provincial parklands, making it a very popular area for day hiking, cycling and horse back riding.
Location: North Saanich occupies the northern portion of the Saanich Peninsula in Greater Victoria, bordered to the west by the Saanich Inlet, to the north by Satellite Channel, to the east by Haro Strait, and by Central Saanich to the south. Communities in North Saanich include Deep Cove, Sidney and the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay.
Set amidst natural beauty and unspoiled charm, the vibrant community of Sidney-by-the-Sea is the gateway to the BC Gulf Islands and the US San Juan Islands. This bustling commercial hub of the Saanich Peninsula is blessed with majestic views of the ocean, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges. Sidney offers a multitude of unique galleries, gift stores, antique shops, restaurants, bakeries and coffee bars.
Swartz Bay is the main ferry terminal for Victoria and southern Vancouver Island, and the province’s second largest and busiest ferry terminal after Tsawwassen. BC Ferries provides a vehicle and passenger ferry service from Swartz Bay to Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and the Southern Gulf Islands.
In addition to the ferry terminal, North Saanich is also the location of the Victoria International Airport (YYJ), making it the true Gateway to the Capital Regional District of Victoria.
The British Columbia Aviation Museum is dedicated to preserving aircraft and aviation artifacts related to the history of aviation in Canada, with an emphasis on British Columbia. The showcase of Canadian aviation history displays twenty vintage airplanes, including Canada’s first planes, wartime fighters, and a full-size replica of the Gibson Twin Plane that beat the Wright brothers’ famous accomplishment set in 1903. Other displays at the BC Aviation Museum include engines, uniforms, memorabilia, a reconstructed radio control room, and a Memorial Room with aircrafts dedicated to the two world wars. Located on Norseman Road in Sidney, next to the Victoria International Airport.
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.
Dunsmuir Lodge: For a magnificent view of Sidney, the Gulf Islands, and the North Saanich communities, take a drive up McTavish Road to the University of Victoria’s Dunsmuir Lodge, which is bordered by over 600 acres of forested park.
Kayaking: Launch your kayak in Deep Cove, and explore the calm waters of the Saanich Inlet, where negligible tidal currents make this a great paddling area for novices and experts alike. A public boat launch beside the federal dock at the north end of Lands End Road at Swartz Bay is a good place to launch your boat or kayak and head for any number of nearby islands or to explore the coastline of the Saanich Peninsula. Those in open canoes should be cautious of the wash from ferries and larger marine traffic around Swartz Bay. Paddlers can launch from either the boat ramp or wharf in Sidney and head across the channel to Sidney Spit or Princess Margaret Island in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. To locate the launch, drive to the east end of Beacon Avenue.
Biking: Mount your bicycle and travel the country lanes on trails that aptly describe the beautiful scenery and woodland countryside – The Coles Bay Sun and Surf Route, The Flatlands Farm Route and The Strawberry Fields Forever Route. The Saanich Peninsula extension’s northern trailhead of the Lochside Trail is near the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and runs a considerable distance passed the Sidney waterfront and south from the intersection of Lochside Drive and Beacon Avenue in North Saanich to Quadra Street near Victoria. The Lochside Trail passes through urban neighbourhoods and leads through rural Saanich to link up with the Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria.
Marinas: North Saanich boasts the largest concentration of marinas on Vancouver Island. Several marinas and boating facilities are located along Sidney’s eastern shoreline, including the fabulous Port Sidney Marina. Other marina facilities in North Saanich are Canoe Cove Marina, just west of Swartz Bay, Van Isle Marina in Tsehum Harbour, and Deep Cove Marina in Deep Cove on Saanich Inlet. Sidney is popular with the Northwest boating fraternity, with boaters from California, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver choosing Port Sidney as the best destination marina on the west coast!
North Saanich Farm Market holds weekly markets at St. John’s United Church garden at 10990 West Saanich Road from May until the end of October. Seasonal produce, locally raised meat, baked goods, eggs, flowers, plants and seeds. Come out and support the local growers. Saturdays from 9:30am to 12:30pm.
Enjoy fabulous views of the Peninsula, Gulf Islands and Cascade Mountains from John Dean Provincial Park, which straddles the boundary between North Saanich and Central Saanich, just a few miles north of Brentwood Bay. The park was the first donated provincial park in British Columbia, and the mountain and the surrounding area feature prominently in the culture of the native Saanich people.
The hiking trails in Horth Hill Regional Park in North Saanich leads to one of the highest viewpoints at the top of the Saanich Peninsula. It climbs gradually through a semi-arid forest to the summit. From here you have splendid views of the Gulf and San Juan Islands, Mount Baker’s volcanic cone, Hurricane Ridge’s scissor-cut profile, and all of the Saanich Peninsula and Inlet laid out before you in stark relief.
Visit Coles Bay Regional Park, a quiet refuge on Coles Bay in the Saanich Inlet. The 4-hectare park has a rough, barnacle-covered rock beach typical of the Saanich Peninsula’s west side. A mixed wooded creek flows past towering western red cedar into a muddy beach rich in tidal lagoon life, a great spot for bird watching and hiking. The water in this deep fjord is always invigorating. Bring along a pair of beach shoes to best enjoy the environment.
Need some exercise?: Flight Path is a 9.3-km paved walking, running and biking trail around Victoria International Airport. The three-metre-wide path borders the airport lands and connects with West Saanich Road and Ocean Avenue along the Patricia Bay Highway, as well as Beacon Avenue into downtown Sidney. Those out for exercise will be able to see ocean and mountain views from the path, and watch anything from a 737 to a military helicopter or small flight-school aircraft take off.
Wildlife: 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.
Also located on the northern end of the Saanich Peninsula is the vibrant community of Sidney or Sidney-by-the-Sea as it calls itself. Sidney is the bustling commercial hub of the Saanich Peninsula and the gateway to the BC Gulf Islands and the US San Juan Islands for boaters and sailers.
South of North Saanich is Central Saanich, where farmland in the rural community comprises 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.