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Saanich Heritage Information

Pimlott family in front of Pimlott Brothers Royal Oak Grocery, 1913 (Saanich Archives 1980-012-001)

A Brief History of Saanich

Ancestors of the First Nations people lived in the area we call Saanich for a period of at least 4,000 years before the early European settlers arrived in the Greater Victoria area. Archaeological evidence of many midden sites containing great amounts of shell remains, ash deposits from fires and evidence of the food processing activity of the First Nations people can be found along the sea shore and inland as well.

By the mid-1850s, employees of the Hudson's Bay Company and the first colonial settlers embarked on transforming the virgin forests of the Peninsula into one of the oldest agricultural settlements in British Columbia. The farms and dairy herds of Saanich soon became a vital source of food for Victoria's expanding population and by the turn-of-the-century the district was renowned for its cultivation of fruit and flowers. Since that time Saanich has become a major residential area in the Capital Regional District while still maintaining an important agricultural base.

The history of Saanich and its pattern of settlement is still evident in many of the old buildings and structures located throughout the district. The homes, schools, churches, commercial buildings, and farm buildings of heritage significance reflect the efforts and aspirations of the pioneer era as well as later periods of development. They provide a tangible link with the past and a meaningful sense of historical continuity.

Heritage Register

Saanich Heritage RegisterThe Saanich Heritage Register 2008 is an updated edition including a total listing of 298 heritage Registered and Designated sites. Eighty of these sites are Designated Heritage Buildings. The BC Local Government Act gives Municipal Governments authority to establish a Heritage Register as a record of real property that is considered heritage property.

The purpose of the Heritage Register:

  1. Properties listed on the Register may be protected by Municipal Council through a variety of measures outlined in the Local Government Act;
  2. The Register is used by Saanich Staff in the decision making process for the future of each property listed; and
  3. The Register is a great record and resource for Saanich residents, staff and Council on the history of our community.

You may wish to refer to our Info on Saanich Heritage Register brochure for Frequently Asked Questions.

Copies are available for purchase ($24.95) at Saanich Municipal Hall, Planning Department, 3rd Floor.

Heritage Management Plan

The Saanich Heritage Management Plan 1999 provides Policies and Procedures for the designation and alteration of heritage buildings and the development and subdivision of lands connected with heritage buildings. The Heritage Action Plan is an update and appendix to the Management Plan.

Heritage Designation

Heritage Designation of a structure requires approval by Saanich Council.

The Application for Heritage Designation provides a list of criteria for evaluating a building or site and information on what is the effect and benefit of designation.

Heritage Alteration Permits

Heritage Alteration Permits are required when an owner applies to alter the exterior of a Designated Heritage Building. When a Building Permit Application is submitted for a Designated Heritage Site the Building Department initiates a heritage review process by referring the application to the Planning Department and the Heritage Foundation.

House Restoration Grants

Owners of Designated Heritage homes may apply to the Heritage Foundation for a House Grant to restore the exterior of the home. See the House Grants Program Guide and download the House Grants Application form.

All heritage restoration grant applicants are expected to follow the Restoration Guidelines for house grants.

Saanich Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation’s mandate includes:

  • Management of Restoration Grants,
  • Review of heritage designation and alteration applications,
  • Promotion of heritage conservation.

Visit the Saanich Heritage Foundation.

Arts, Culture & Heritage Advisory Committee

The Arts Culture & Heritage Advisory Committee has a mandate to give advice and feedback to Council on Saanich Arts, Culture and Heritage services and programs.

Centennial Heritage Banners

The Centennial Heritage stand alone display banners were created for the Municipality’s Centennial Celebrations in 2006 and may be borrowed for public display.  The display banners are organized into 15 themes.  Each banner contains fascinating facts and captivating photographs depicting events, people or places of Saanich in connection with the themes.

The banners can be used to encourage awareness, education and pride in Saanich Heritage and are available to be displayed at any public indoor event or facility.

Please visit our banners page to learn more!

Significant Sites & Attractions

Some of Saanich’s Significant Heritage Structures are included on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Heritage Walking Tours

Download and view or print the Saanich Heritage Walking Tours.

Gorge Road West area

Gorge Tour One covers the area between Admirals Road and Colquitz Avenue and Gorge Tour Two provides a guide between Adelaide Avenue and Inez Drive.

Gordon Head Area

Torquay Tyndall tells the story of the Torquay and Tyndall area of Gordon Head.

Centennial Trails

The trails and walkways in Saanich are diverse and provide opportunities for recreation, transportation, exploration, and connection of the rural and cultural richness of our community. Many biking and walking trails follow the historic rail rights-of-way that pass historic points of interest.

Download the brochures and maps for the trails from Phase 1 of the Centennial Trails webpage.

Natural History

Saanich has established a Tree Preservation Bylaw to preserve and protect our native and significant trees in order to retain much of the beauty and heritage that we recognize as important in preserving our environment and quality of life.

Inventory of Heritage Markers

Memorial Trees Along Shelbourne St.

Marker erected at the corner of Shelbourne and Elnido in 1976

In Memoriam Victoria area soldiers fallen in World War I
These heritage trees were planted by:
General Sir Arthur Currie,
Sept. 21, 1922
Lord Byng of Vimy,
Aug. 24, 1922
Joseph J. Cesare Joffre,
Mar. 29, 1922

Erected by the Municipality of Saanich and the Heritage Tree Committee Victoria Horticultural Society, 1976

WWI Memorial Cornerstone

Inscribed: ‘Saanich War Memorial Health Centre, November 1920’

Located at 4353 West Saanich Road. (*arch no longer standing)

Plaques at Lansdowne Airfield

William Wallace Gibson and the first all Canadian designed and built aircraft flew Lansdowne Airfield in 1910.

Marker erected at Lansdowne and Richmond road in 1985.

Dodd House

Historic Dodd House interpretive sign was installed in July 2007, located at Lambrick Park in front of the Designated Heritage Dodd family house restored by the Heritage Foundation.

Feng Shui Site in Saanich

In 2006 the District of Saanich installed an interpretive sign on the Galloping Goose Trail next to Swan Lake to commemorate the historical significance of the auspicious Feng Shui site on the slopes of Christmas Hill

Hallmark Society Award


Congratulations to the Heritage Foundation for being awarded a 2008 Hallmark Society Award of Merit for their work in conserving and restoring Captain Charles and Grace Dodd House at 4139 Lambick Way in Lambrick Park.  The volunteers of the Heritage Foundation have work for many years to restore this house that dates back to © 1859.

An interpretive sign has also been erected on the site to inform visitors to the park of the history of the home and the Dodd family.

Healthy Saanich Values a Connection to Heritage


Memories of the past and dreams of the future and what they have in common are explored by pioneers and young students working together in a Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee Initiative - "Life in Saanich" Memories Book Project.

1999 Healthy Saanich map was also created at a community workshop sponsored by the District of Saanich.

Heritage Traffic Control Box Anti Graffiti Wraps

The District of Saanich has installed several Anti Graffiti traffic control box wraps for community beautification.  Some of the boxes exhibit historic photos and information in relation to the area they are located.

Saanich Heritage GIS Map Service

To view a map listing the Heritage Locations in Saanich, please follow this link and agree to the terms.

Once the map launches look to the left-hand side of the page. Expand the Planning and Environment folder under the Map Layers heading and select the Heritage Sites box.

Research the History of Your Home

Go to the Saanich Archives web page.

Useful & Interesting Links

Part 27 of the BC Local Government Act

Saanich Pioneer & Log Cabin Museum

Saanich Historical Artifacts Society

Hallmark Society

Victoria Heritage Foundation

BC Heritage Branch

BC Heritage

Vancouver Heritage Society

BC Archives

Canada’s Historic Places

BC Orchard Industry Museum

History provided by Saanich Community Associations

Mount Tolmie Community Association

Broadmead's Rithets Bog

North Quadra Land Use Protection Association

Royal Oak Community Association

Gardens and Farms in Saanich

Knockan Hill Park on Burnside Road

Glendale Gardens, Doris Page Winter Garden

Island Farms Guide - Download the guide to local farms found along scenic West Saanich Road, Old Field Road and Blenkinsop Road

Last modified: August 06, 2014