Beacon Hill Park

Photo By: Gord Handford

Beacon Hill Park

Perhaps the most popular park in Victoria, Beacon Hill Park is located just outside of downtown, right across from the Dallas Road Walkway. Its 81-hectares provides plenty of land for nearly every activity. Many locals head to its walkways to break a sweat. The park also features fantastic floral gardens, fountains, picnic areas, ponds, a petting zoo and even water parks like the giant watering can feature. While Beacon Hill Park has a bit of a haunted past, it is also a significant historical area thanks to its abundance of history for the Lekwungen People and importance to First Nations culture. The beauty of Beacon Hill Park is undeniable, and plenty of sunny days are spent within its fields, waterparks and gardens. The paved trails make Beacon Hill Park incredibly accessible, and stroller and wheelchair friendly, so everyone can get their dose of fresh air and greenery.

Photo By: Dan Schiff

A hotspot for birders, the park’s pond features provide a home for flocks of ducks, and even the occasional heron. Amongst the stands of Garry Oak, Western red cedar, arbutus and Douglas fir there are squirrels and raccoons abound. River otters are often seen enjoying the water features of the park, and of course, there are plenty of deer grazing throughout. As of 2014, the park has featured a stunning, gated (to keep the deer out) rose garden thanks to Anne Steers, a long-time resident of B.C.’s capital city. Set in a circular pattern, the garden features 150 roses of different colours and species. The beautiful arbor within was erected with the hope that it will provide the perfect, romantic setting for wedding photos of those in love. This is to honour Anne and her late husband, Ernie Steers, for whom she donated the rose garden in memory of.

Photo By: Sam Vandervalk

In an area known as Checkers Pavilion, the park’s important, First Nations history will make a return appearance in the form of a traditional longhouse, which is intended to be used for educational and cultural activities. The park also has traces of the Lekwungen People’s roots through the ancient burial ground, which is still considered an important place to re-bury the remains of First Nations. The most famous First Nations aspect of the park is the Tallest Totem Pole in the World, the story pole Spirit of Lekwammen. Although the pole has been taken down and put back up once for restoration purposes, it has sat in Beacon Hill Park since 1956 and free stands at 128ft high. It was carved by the famous Kwakwaka-wakw carver and historical figure, Mungo Martin, who also created the Mungo Martin House in Thunderbird Park. He left behind an important legacy in establishing a rise of culture awareness, pride, promotion and education.

Photo by: Michael Brunet

When the daffodils bloom, Beacon Hill in the park is a cheery place to spend a sunset. It overlooks the Juan de Fuca Strait and Dallas Road Walkway. Despite the park’s beauty, as promised, it does have a haunted past. Unfortunately, Beacon Hill Park used to be a popular spot for those seeking to escape their lives through hanging. The park also had a bad reputation when it came to women walking it alone in the dark. Check out our Haunted Places page to learn the story of the Screaming Doppleganger, as one example. Beacon Hill Park also used to be the site of a zoo, where a beautiful and rare Spirit Bear was held in captivity. A popular site for tourists, the Beacon Hill Park Zoo had actually held a number of bears starting in 1891, which were kept in worse condition. They were swiftly replaced as they became stressed, ill or died. The park saw plenty of protest to the way the bears were kept and treated, and eventually the Beacon Hill Zoo came to a close.

Photo by: Russell Scott

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