Rithet’s Bog Conservation Area in Saanich consists of a low-lying basin of marshes, wet meadows, and bog forest, and is surrounded by hilly terrain and rock outcrops. Donated by the Guinness family of Britain in 1994, the municipal park protects the last remaining peat bog on Victoria’s Saanich Peninsula. The basin is part of the watershed of Gabo Creek, a tributary of Colquitz Creek, which meanders through most of central Victoria.
Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society (RBCS) works closely with Saanich Parks, advising on the ecology and management of the park, particularly the bog ecosystem. A restoration project has rejuvenated the bog, mainly by controlling fluctuations in water levels and eliminating the masses of recent willow growth, which was a major cause of water loss through evapo-transpiration.
Rithet’s Bog is named after Robert Patterson Rithet, a prominent Victoria businessman and politician who owned this and surrounding property until the early 1900s, and raised thoroughbreds Broadmead Farm. What was originally a cranberry swamp was drained with the help of his draft horses, outfitted with large flat wooden shoes to prevent them from sinking into the muck.
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After the passing of Robert Rithet, various farming practices continued on the wetlands and uplands surrounding the central domed bog. The land was seasonally drained and ditches were dug to enable crop planting, and weed species were introduced. Water levels fluctuated throughout the year, adversely affecting the health of bog plants in the central lodgepole pine forest, soils were depleted, and the wetlands degraded until all agricultural activity ceased in 1994.
A flat 2.8-km trail surfaced with hard-packed gravel loops Rithet’s Bog, enabling viewing of the sensitive environment and the wide variety of birds and butterflies that live in the conservation area. There are no washroom facilities in the park.
Rithet’s Bog Conservation Area is located east of the Patricia Bay Highway near Broadmead in Saanich, on the east side of Chatterton Way. Curbside parking is available on Emily Carr Drive and the south side of Dalewood Lane, or outside of business hours in the Chatterton Business Complex.
Nearby Regions & Towns
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).