Saanich BC, the Saanich Peninsula or District of Saanich — all the same thing — is a municipality on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is located north of the provincial capital, Victoria. It has a population of 108,265, making it the most populated municipality on Vancouver Island, and the seventh most populated in the province. The municipality is named after the Saanich First Nation.
Saanich is part of Greater Victoria and a member municipality of the Capital Regional District.
The Municipality of Saanich was incorporated on March 1, 1906. With an area of 103 square kilometres (40 square miles), it is the largest of the core municipalities making up Greater Victoria. The topography is undulating with many glacially scoured rock outcroppings. Elevations range from sea level to 229 metres (751 feet). The physical setting is greatly influenced by water. There are eight square kilometres (2,020 acres) of fresh water lakes and 29.61 kilometres (19.40 miles) of marine shoreline.
Saanich is home to part of the University of Victoria which straddles the boundary with the neighbouring Municipality of Oak Bay. Saanich is fairly large in area and contains a wide variety of rural and urban landscapes and neighbourhoods stretching north to the Saanich Peninsula. Saanich is the location of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory near Elk Lake. The Municipality of Saanich contains a long shoreline with sandy beaches located at a number of ocean bays. Two of the beaches are Cadboro Bay Beach and Cordova Bay Beach. Cadboro Bay is known as a place to view the “Cadborosaurus”, a mythical sea monster that may or may not exist. Saanich’s notable parks include Mount Douglas Park, Mount Tolmie Park (with viewpoints) and Gyro Park.
Saanich has been the home to First Nations people for thousands of years. The non-native history begins with the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1840s.
The Craigflower Schoolhouse (originally called Maple Point School), the oldest surviving school building in Western Canada, was built on orders from Kenneth MacKenzie. He came from Scotland with his family in 1852, on the Hudson’s Bay Company ship Norman Morison, to establish a farm for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company. A school was needed for the children of farm employees, as well as those of arriving settlers.
The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory telescope was designed by Dr John Stanley Plaskett, astronomer with the Department of the Interior in Ottawa. The 72 inch (1.8 m) reflecting telescope was the largest of its kind in the world when it was built, though this was only the case for a few short months in 1918.