Sunday, 12 April 2015

Beckwith Park

Dogs permitted: off leash
Upper trails are wheelchair accessible

Beckwith Park is tucked in off the south end of Quadra Street, in what used to be some of Greater Victoria's prime agricultural land.  The park itself is a well equipped neighbourhood park, smack in the midst of residences that have sprung up as farmland was sold and rezoned.  It boasts one of Saanich's few waterparks during the summer, a newer playground equipped with a good variety of play structures, and has 2 tennis courts, washrooms open year-round and open soccer fields.

The pathways around the playground and fields are paved and smooth, and the trails surrounding the pond are smooth and mostly level for wheelchair accessibility.  Towards the eastern side of  the park, however, the trails become a little less level, and rougher.

Dogs are permitted off-leash everywhere except the playground area.  On any given weekend, there are groups of dogs romping around in the open fields, and dogs accompanying their owners on jaunts around the trail.  If your pooches are prey-driven (like our shiba inus are!) you may want to keep them on-leash in the area around the duckpond.

Beyond the standard neighbourhood park setup, there is a network of trails that lead around a pond, and into the Garry Oak meadow.  At the eastern side of the park, you can continue your walk along a designated bike route on residential streets that ultimately leads to Lochside Trail, and out to Blenkinsop Lake.  At the present time, it is not possible to do a loop around Blenkinsop Lake, so you will have to double-back in order to get back to Beckwith park.


This area was home to the farms of a number of Saanich pioneers at the turn of the century, and what is currently Lochside trail was actually a CNPR railway line out to Patricia Bay with a railway trestle crossing over Blenkinsop Lake. At that time the North Quadra area was occupied mainly by dairy farms - the Rogers Farm to the west side of Quadra, and the (current) Beckwith farm on the eastern side between Beckwith Avenue and Lochside trail.   Beckwith farm continues to be farmed today, dedicated mainly to blueberries.

Beckwith Park is named after J.L Beckwith, a Victoria city councillor and Mayor for a term in 1912. He is remembered not only for his years of public service, but also for saving Craigdarroch Castle from being torn down, and for establishing Victoria College in 1921. Strangely enough, J.L. lived on Fernwood road, not in the North Quadra area. I think further research is in order to determine what further connections exist.

Flora and fauna

Beckwith park itself is largely Garry Oak meadow, with an understory of grassy wildflower meadow. A springtime walk revealed not only the native Erythronium sp. (Easter lilies), chocolate lilies (Fritillaria) and a smattering of Camassia quamash.


Around the pond, and closer to Blenkinsop lake, the Garry oak trees give way to species that like wetter conditions - cottonwoods and alder, with elderberries closer to the edges.  As you walk along Lochside trail towards the lake, you will also encounter salmonberries and on a spring day, smell the skunk cabbage.

This park is a great birdwatching spot.  There are a variety of habitats within a short distance, and nesting boxes have been set up in strategic spots throughout the park. You will likely hear a number of different songbirds, hear and see Stellars Jays, see ducks in the pond, and perhaps even spy a turtle or two basking on a log in the lower part of the pond.

Connected greenspaces

In late 2013, the municipality of Saanich acquired just over 31 acres of farmland that borders Beckwith Park and surrounds Blenkinsop Lake.  This new parkland allows for a buffer between the active agricultural land and the Beckwith stream/Blenkisop Lake watershed, which connects to Swan Lake and Colquitz Creek.

Future plans for this new acquisition include creating trails that will connect Beckwith Park and Lochside trail to Valewood Park, on the south side of Broadmead.


Saanich parks info on Beckwith Park
Saanich acquires 31.4 acres of Blenksinsop land, Victoria News, Sept 27, 2013
Victoria heritage register, 1423 Fernwood Road.

All images © 2015 Janice Mansfield