Saanich Neighbourhood Information
Victoria, British Columbia
Your Guide to Living in Saanich
Saanich is a large and incredibly diverse area of Victoria. The most populous and largest district in the Greater Victoria area, Saanich is home to roughly 115, 000 people, covering over 100 square kilometers of the upper peninsula. Despite such a vast area, Saanich is an accessible and convenient place to live in Victoria thanks to its many schools, parks, beaches, shopping and more!
Where is Saanich
Saanich is one of the 13 main municipalities of the Greater Victoria Area. It is located directly north of central Victoria. Saanich is bordered by Tolmie Avenue to the south, and Bear Hill Road to the north, with natural coastal borders on its beautiful eastern side.
History of Saanich
Saanich has a rich indigenous history, and has been the home of the Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) peoples for thousands of years, while the first ships from the Hudson Bay Company arrived to settle the Saanich Peninsula in the 1840s.
Part of this rich history, the Saanich neighbourhood of Gorge Tillicum houses the Craigflower Schoolhouse, the oldest surviving school building in Western Canada. In the late 1950s, the University of Victoria also moved its campus to the border of Saanich and Oak Bay.
The blended history of Saanich has greatly contributed to its vibrant mixed communities of students, seniors, families and young professionals.
Saanich is home to twelve different neighbourhoods, varying in size a population. These are just a few of the notable residential neighbourhoods in this large district.
A village bordering on the district of Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay is a beautiful waterfront area of Saanich and hosts the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Just a short walk to the University of Victoria, this area is popular with students and as well as families. In addition to the beautiful coastline and newly renovated children’s playground at Gyro Park, Cadboro Bay Village is also home to a charming neighbourhood pub, a locally-owned grocery store, and other unique shops.
Largely residential, Gordon Head is a beautiful ocean-side community in Saanich. Spanning the farthest-east edges of the peninsula, Gordon Head is a peaceful neighbourhood for nature lovers, with beautiful secluded beaches and the very popular Mount Douglas Park, which stretches from the coastline to the summit of Mount Douglas and offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the peninsula. Gordon Head is also home to the University of Victoria, which offers its own recreation facilities, trails, theatres and more!
Just a quick and beautiful drive outside of Victoria, or a nice easy cycle along the superb Lochside Trail, Cordova Bay is a quaint seaside village. The village itself is surrounded by a large residential area boasting beautiful ocean views with occasional glimpses of the spectacular white-capped Mount Baker. Cordova Bay Village is home to boutique shops, predominantly locally owned, and the fantastic Red Barn Market for any grocery shopping needs.
The Quadra neighbourhood in Victoria is truly a hidden gem. With an abundance of shopping areas, quick access to downtown, many schools and beautiful walking trails, Quadra is quickly becoming a favorite spot for young families. This neighbourhood has easy access to many shopping centres in Victoria, including Uptown, Mayfair Mall and Hillside Mall, while still being secluded and surrounded by nature. Quadra is bordered by Swan Lake Nature Reserve and the Lochside Trail, a very popular spot for bird watching and outdoor adventures.
Because it covers such a large area, the district of Saanich is home to a multitude of different beautiful parks, beaches, recreation centres and golf courses.
Some of the best hiking and walking areas in Greater Victoria can be found in Saanich, including Mount Douglas and Mount Tolmie, which both offer fabulous views of the city and the coastline, and are accessible by car as well.
For a gentler stroll, Saanich is also home to the large Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park that offers rowing and swimming, as well as a 10 km trail around the lakes popular with runners, walkers, cyclists and horseback riders. Closer to the city is the Swan Lake Nature Reserve, a great spot for families and bird watching enthusiasts.
Because of its expansive coastline, Saanich is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Victoria, including Mount Douglas Beach, Gordon Head Beach and Gyro Park. Further up the peninsula, Island View Beach is also a popular spot for a swim and a picnic.
The district of Saanich also maintains several public recreation centres which run programs for adults and children throughout the year.
Schools in Saanich
Saanich is part of School District 63 Saanich, and has several public elementary, middle and high schools to best suit the needs of each individual family. Parents and students are given the opportunity to focus on their child’s area of interest by choosing schools that specialize in arts and drama like Claremont Secondary, or have special sports programs like Parkland Secondary’s hockey academy. Many schools in Saanich offer French immersion as well, allowing students to participate in the program from kindergarten to grade 12. The Challenge Program is also available for gifted students at Mount Douglas Secondary School. This variety of options allows parents to tailor their child’s particular needs within the public school system.
For families interested in private education, Saanich is also home to St. Michaels University School, a private day and boarding school that offers Advanced Placement options for twenty-eight different courses, the most established program of its kind in Canada.
Schooling in Saanich doesn’t stop in high school, as this district is also the home of the University of Victoria, and both the Lansdowne and the Interurban Campus of Camosun College.
Saanich is easily accessed by car from the upper peninsula communities like Sidney, and from the heart of Victoria. Both the Patricia Bay Highway and the Trans-Canada Highway run at least partially through Saanich, making for a quick commute anywhere.
Saanich is fully serviced by BC Transit, with transit services reaching to more remote areas allowing easy access to amenities. Saanich is also home to several bus exchanges, like the Royal Oak Exchange or the University of Victoria Bus Loop that add ease and convenience to traveling by public transit.
Like most of Greater Victoria, Saanich is also easily accessible by bicycle, featuring many bike lanes on major streets as well as the Lochside Trail running through the entirety of Saanich.
With its wide range of indoor and outdoor activities available, great schools, and beautiful views from every angle, it’s no wonder Saanich is such a large and popular region of the Greater Victoria Area!
Saanich, British Columbia
Province: British Columbia
Total Area: 103.78 km2 (40.07 sq mi)
Population: 114,148 (2016)
Density: 1,099.9/km2 (2,849/sq mi)