Saanich Peninsula is located north of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is bounded by Saanich Inlet on the west, and various straits of the Straight of Georgia on the east, chiefly Haro Strait. The exact southern boundary of what is referred to as the "Saanich Peninsula" (or simply as "the Peninsula") is somewhat fluid in local parlance.
Geography and Climate
Lying in the rain shadow of both the Vancouver Island Ranges and the Olympic Mountains, Saanich Peninsula is the driest part of Vancouver Island. The driest recording station in the provincial capital city of Victoria averages only 635 millimetres (25 in) of precipitation annually. Precipitation increases from east to west, and from south to north.
The natural flora of the region include mixed forests of Douglas fir, Western red cedar, hemlock, arbutus, Garry oak, and manzanita. The ground cover includes snowberry, Oregon grape, salal, sword fern, trillium, and fawn lily. The peninsula is characterized by rolling hills and numerous freshwater ponds and lakes. Notable natural features of Saanich Peninsula include Elk Lake, Beaver Lake, Mount Newton, Bear Hill, Tod Inlet, Mount Finlayson, Prospect Lake, Durrance Lake, and Mount Work. Many of these features are protected in regional and municipal parks.
Many different kinds of bedrock underlie the peninsula. Sandstone is common at the northern end. Granodiorite crops out in many northern and central areas. Amphibolite, diorite, gabbro and quartz diorite are common in the south. Smaller areas of andesite, basalt, chert, dacite and limestone are also found.
The region is the historical homeland of certain Coast Salish peoples. Several Indian Reserves are located on the peninsula, predominantly along the shore of Saanich Inlet. Early European settlers arrived in the mid-nineteenth century, pursuing mainly resource-based economic activities such as logging, fishing, and — most notably — agriculture. The peninsula is home to the oldest agricultural exhibition in Western Canada, the Saanich Fair, sponsored by the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society. In more recent decades, residential and commercial development has become widespread on the Peninsula, although provincial law protects much of the region's farmland from rezoning. The peninsula is also home to many wilderness parks, mostly on its southwest. The largest of these is Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.
The peninsula is also the location of the Swartz Bay terminal of the BC Ferry Corporation, the Victoria International Airport at Patricia Bay, aka "Pat Bay", and the western terminal of the Washington State Ferries run through the San Juan Islands from Anacortes to [[ Sidney, British Columbia|Sidney]]. Another ferry on the west coast of the peninsula connects Brentwood to Mill Bay
Just north of Elk Lake is the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Butchart Gardens is located just south of the town of Brentwood Bay, which is also home to a long-established private school of the same name.
- Central Saanich (containing the villages of Brentwood Bay and Saanichton)
- Highlands (the southwestern part)
- North Saanich
- Saanich (its northern portions)
The Tsawout First Nation reserve and band office is located in Saanichton overlooking James Island on the east shore of the Peninsula; the Tsartlip First Nation is based on the west side of the peninsula north of Brentwood Bay; the Pauquachin First Nation is based between Mount Newton and Coles Bay on west side of the Peninsula; and the Tseycum First Nation is based on the NW of the Peninsula along the shores of Patricia Bay.