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.