Come at the right time of year (late April to late May) and see spectacular, huge rhododendrons in bloom in this known-mostly-to-locals park. To get here take the number 6 bus (catch it across from the Dutch Bakery on Fort Street) and ask the bus driver to let you off near the intersection of Rock and Quadra.
To get back to town walk back down to Quadra Street, cross to the other side that you got off from and catch a bus back into town. Or continue on to the intersection of Quadra and McKenzie (away from town) where you'll find a shopping centre (Saanich Centre) where you can have a coffee (Starbucks), fast food (Quiznos, Dairy Queen), 'Canadian' food (White Spot) or buy fruit and baked goods (Thrifty Foods). There's also a Keg Steakhouse before you reach Saanich Centre and as the restaurant is housed in an old winery you may find this an interesting place to have your dinner.
I'm not quite certain what this protest scupluture is, other than the information given on the sign beside it which states that the Victoria Harbour walkway was built for the enjoyment of the public and not for mega-yachts. This protest sculpture seems to have been fabricated entirely out of natural drift wood that has been painted.
Not having any background into the ongoing battles over further development of Victoria's Inner Harbour the sculpture and its statements were a bit of a surprise to me.
If you trust the builders (whoever they are) of this sculpture there are several places where you can sit and enjoy the view. This includes a spot called "King and Queen Neptune's Throne" and a spot marked "Reserved 4 U". These are assembled out of driftwood that has been arranged to form seating and stairs of sorts. I would definitely test the structure before trusting it, as even if the builders constructed it properly tides and weather may adjust its stability, as with anything having to do with driftwood near the water line.
Note there is a sign painted on the side of one of the entry boards in large red letters saying "Caution". Indeed! Other parts are clearly marked by the builder as being "Unsafe to walk on" and obviously you would not want to trust those with your weight at all.
As for me, I was pleased enough to appreciate the contraption from a distance, and appreciate it for what it is: a not-so-subtle reminder that scenic vistas and public places are frequently under pressure from other uses. What we see when we visit a place is frequently the result of many different political pressures pulling in different directions, and ongoing efforts to change what we have visited may be underway out of our view.
The web site below is the one given on the sign on the contraption - which is for keeping track of the developments proposed for the inner harobour.
To get here, you need to walk west from the Johnson Street Bridge along the Westsong Waterway. The approximate location is along the water by the walkway, and not near any points where the walkway connects to the local street network. It is close to the loop formed by Russell Street, Milne Street, and Mary Street to give you an approximate idea of the location.
Following a different branch of the old Canadian National Railway line north of Victoria, the Lochside Regional Trail branches off of the Galloping Goose Trail just north of the Highway 1 crossing. This trail heads northeast from the junction, and runs through a long series of highway overpasses. While this obscures the surrounding scenery, the fact is I'm not convinced there would be that much scenery here to begin with to see, as it is mostly failry unappealing suburban sprawl.
At least being depressed into the narrow cut keeps the road crossings to a minimum, and the line is nearly straight for quite some distance.
The line passes over Switch Bridge near the Swan Lake Nature Sancturary, Blenkinsop Trestle near the northeast edge of town, and gets very close to Mount Douglas Park. The trail eventually continues northeast all the way to the ferry terminal at Sidney.
The junction with the Galloping Goose Trail is at km post 4, though in reality the entire trail system is considered part of the Galloping Goose Trail network. Information about this branch of the trail is consolidated onto the Galloping Goose Trail web site.
See also my Galloping Goose Trail Victoria Tip and Galloping Goose Trail Vancouver Island Tip.
Located as far west as you can go and still be in Victoria (the western border of the park is the line between the cities of Victoria and Esquimalt), Barnard Park is located on a hillside looking out into the harbour (partly the Inner Harbour, and partly the Outer Harbour). There a a large number of trees, which mean that except for the benches along the water there isn't too much of an actual view from inside the park.
Running through the park, and along the waterway, is the Westsong Walkway, which connects this park to downtown Victoria along the water.
The park features a number of benches, a small playground area, tennis courts, and a reasonable amount of open grass.
This is also one of the few remaining area close to Victoria proper where tidal flats have been preserved. From the park you can look out over the edge of the sea wall and watch birds as small as sand pipers up to as big as a Great Blue Heron explore and probe the sand for food.
On the east side of the tidal mud flats you will find a small shelter along the Westsong Walkway that is separated from the rest of the park. Perched on the rocks about the water this shelter provides a place to ponder the hooded mergansers, herons and other birds that visit this spot.
There is no access to the mud flats area as it is a small natural preserve.
I suggest getting to the park from downtown Victoria by walking on the Westsong Walkway, but the street entrance is at Rothwell Street and Esquimalt Road. Several busy bus routes operate on Esquimalt Road past the park.
While it isn't exactly hidden from view, since it is right across the street from the Parliament Building and next door to the huge Hotel Grand Pacific, this little plaza isn't featured on that many tourist maps of Victoria. It is a pleasant little park commemorating the union of Canada.
Featured in the park is a reasonably impressive roiling fountain, which creates quite a splash zone when the wind blows from the right (or wrong!) direction, a concrete block with a time capsule in it, and the Coat of Arms of all the Canadian provinces and territories. Where appropriate, the year of incorporation as a province is featured below the Coat of Arms. This means Yukon, Northwest, and Nunavut have no dates yet, as they are still territories.
The plaza is particularly attractive at night, when the fountain and Coat of Arms are lit up.
The area to the north and south of the paved plaza features plants (the "garden" part of Confederation Garden) and a statue or two that are monuments in their own right. One of these is a monument in commemoration of the treaty of 1825 between Russia and Canada, in which the UK ceded what is now the state of Alaska to Russia, and Russia ceded what is now British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and parts of the Northwest Territory to the UK (that is, Canada). This expanded Canada's boundaries to the Pacific and Arctic, as they are today.
The plaza is an artificial construction, but the rocks on the north side of the garden area are indigenous to the location.
How to Get Here:
The plaza is located across Menzies Street from Parliament, and on the southwest corner of the intersection of Menzies and Belleville Street. At first glance it appears to be part of the Hotel Grand Pacific, but there is no direct pathway between the hotel's entrance garden and the Confederation Garden Court.
I have called this walkway "Gorge Walkway East" as I know not what else to call it. I have called it this because the nearby road is called Gorge Road East.
From the trail intersection at the north end of the bridge where the Galloping Goose Trail crosses the Inner Harbour, this trail wanders along the edge of the water south and east a short distance until it runs into a place where industrial use of the land is still ongoing. Here, the pathway makes a small loop in the land owned by a commercial enterprise in the area, and the view is somewhat cut off from the water by a patch of tall grass which appears to be an effort at restoring some natural habitat to the area.
This section of trail features a restaurant, an eccentric bird sculpture just outside one of the commercial buildings, some good views of the water, a kayak club and their launch pier, and a station stop on the Victoria Harbour Ferry route.
The dock is privately owned, and according to the sign those using it will be charged $15.
There are very few benches from which to sit and enjoy the water along this walkway.
As I was visiting in January, I did notice a few wintering birds out on the water, including a mixture of common mergansers and hooded mergansers.
Connecting with the Galloping Goose Trail just on the south side of the bridge over "The Gorge", this small park features some good views of the small bay here at the east end of "The Gorge". It also has access points to the water in a few small piers. There is also a playground, scattered benches, and a few picnic tables.
Much of the park is steeply sloped down to the water.
The small bay below the park seems to be a very popular place for people to anchor their boats overnight, and even in on this winter day in late January there is quite a number of them, as you can see in the photos taken on January 30th, 2011.
The very far northern end of the park has two of the most hidden benches in it, and though the trail doesn't go anywhere past this point it does provide a decent view of the rest of the park.
As most of the trees are deciduous the views will be a lot different in the rest of the year, but for winter there is a clear view of the surrounding area.
The web site below is the city of Victoria Parks department, which owns the park.
The official start of the Trans-Canada highway isn't one you will find on the mainland. Instead, to say that you have truly driven the entire distance across Canada, you have to come here to Vancouver Island and start (or end) at Milepost 0 of one of the longest highways in North America.
Despite the fact that roads continue north and west from Victoria, the official start of the Trans-Canada highway is at Douglas Street and Dallas Road. This is about 1.2 km (0.72 mile) south of the parliament building in downtown Victoria. This is the far southwestern side of Beacon Hill Park.
How to Get Here:
Walk, drive, or wander south on Douglas Street until it ends at the south side of the island. Bus routes # 1, 3, 19, 30, 33
While walking along the Dallas Road waterfront walkway, I came across the Ross Bay Cemetery. This is not a difficult thing to find: the cemetery is huge and faces the water, and thus is just on the north side of Dallas Road.
It contains a large number of very old graves, and it is obvious that some very early families that are important to the history of Victoria and Vancouver Island are buried here.
The cemetary is closed to dogs, and is closed to all entry from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
The web site below is by a group that is dedicated to preserving and researching the historic cemeteries of Victoria.
How to Get Here:
Ross Bay Cemetery is bordered on the south by Dallas Road, on the west by Memorial Crescent, on the east by St. Charles Street, and on the north by Fairfield Road. There are several bus routes that serve this area. These include 19, 30 and 33.
On May 4th, 2010 this monument to Canada's Royal Navy was installed on the northern end of the downtown section of Victoria's waterfront. This marked the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, while previously sea protection was provided directly by the Royal Navy. With what would eventually become World War I brewing, the duties of guarding Canada were transferred to Canada's own military.
The most prominent feature of the new plaza is the "Homecoming" statue, celebrating the safe return after being put out to sea for a long period of time.
The plaza also features tribute bricks to various locations where Her Majesty's Royal Canadian Navy has been active.
There is also a pretty nice view of Victoria's inner harbor from this location.
Located just west of the ferry termnal that serves the international boats linking downtown Victoria with various places in the USA, Laurel Point Park features wonderful views of Victoria's Inner Harbour. The park is the home of the Waterfront Walkway for the section of the walkway that goes through this part of Victoria.
Located along the Westsong Walkway on the north side of Victoria's Inner Harbour, Pallastsis Point has been held as a special place for Vancouver Island's native cultures. It is regarded as a sacred meeting site.
A large totem pole was installed at the point in 1994 for the Commonwealth Games. In 1997, this pole was removed and reconfigured into four separate peices: two sections remain at Pallastsis Point and two others are at the Songhee Reserve.
The totem pole symbolizes friendship and welcoming between the Songhees and "Visiting Nations" and has been placed here due to the significance of Pallastsis Point as a sacred place of coming together.
The location is largely left as natural rock, but there are a few small pathways that have been carved into the rocks. There is also a small trail that goes down to beach level.
When I saw the relatively large expanse only slightly southeast of downtown Victoria called "Beacon Hill Park" I immediately thought of a fairly tall hill with wonderful 360 degree views in all directions, including downtown, the island, and across the straight.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the hill here isn't that tall, and therefore the view from the top really isn't as impressive as I had hoped it would be.
It does provide a decent view to the south, but really isn't as impressive as the completely unobstructed view available from such places as Clover Point Park or the Ogden Point Breakwater.
Inside the park you will find a duck pond, playground facilities, a small preserved forest, and a lot of maintained open park space shaded by large trees.
This large block of Vancouver Island marble was dedicated Earth Day (April 22), 2000, and is "A gift to all people from Maarten & Nadina Schaddelee" with the enscription
From many directions we have come
At peace with Nature we are one
Always Free - Semper Liber.
It is placed in Clover Point Park (see previous tip) but it is truly an "off the beaten path" as I imagine most people visit the park without even noticing this sculpted marble block between the viewpoint and Dallas Road.
The rock is equipped with several symbolic shapes, including whales and a shell of an Ammonite. The symbolic nature of the images is declared on plaques on the base of the rock, but if I told you what is written there, you wouldn't stop to look at them now would you?
So, you will have to stop and look at the enscriptions for yourself. This is the more meaningful way to see the sculpture anyway, since not only are the symbols important, but so is the placement among the elements of the mountains and waterway. To simply read the enscription out of context would not have the same impact.
The southern most point in Victoria juts out into the water of the straight of Juan de Fuca, and defies the wind and the waves to wash it away. On this rocky point of land sticking down like a spare thumb is equipped with a loop of road and parking places for a number of vehicles, and faces the scenery of the Olympic Mountains on the other side of the Straight.
Though I have called this an "Off the Beaten Path" spot, the fact is I think it is safe to say that during the best weather, warm or not, you will most likely see quite a number of people here, and parking will be a pain.
However, the park is also well connected with the rest of the southern shore of Victoria though a paved walkway that runs the length of this shore line. If you want to enjoy the spot like a native, walk along here and enjoy the view from the walkway, and don't worry about parking at Clover Point or anywhere else.
The small rocky beaches are not especially interesting unless the water is at a particularly low tide, though you will find some Black Turnstones and a few other wintering shore birds here in the winter months.
The park is also equipped with a few works of art, the most obvious of which is a Rock called "Millennium Piece", and is in the next Off the Beaten Path tip.