Historically, Sidney was a small farming community and the location of Vancouver Island's first flour mill. The heavily wooded forests of the region soon fostered sawmills and a thriving lumber industry.
The Saanich People have lived on the Saanich Peninsula for thousands of years prior to contact with Europeans. The Hudson's Bay Company obtained large tracts of forested lands from the Saanich People in 1852. James Douglas purchased much of the land in North Saanich in 1858, and one year later William and Charles Reay became the first settlers on the northern portion of the Saanich Peninsula when they purchased land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Some of this land is now the town of Sidney, incorporated as a village on 30th September 1952.
Sidney takes its name from nearby Sidney Channel and Sidney Island (originally known as Sallas Island). Captain Richards of the survey ship Plumper renamed it Sidney Island in 1859, after Fredrick William Sidney (later captain), also a member of the Royal Navy.
Sidney is located along Highway 17 at the northern end of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island just south of Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and east of Victoria International Airport. The town is also a port-of-call for the Washington State Ferry, with ferries running from Sidney to Anacortes, Washington.
Established in 1971, the Sidney Museum has served the community of Sidney and North Saanich since then. Run by the Society of Saanich Peninsula Museums, the museum promotes awareness of local heritage through exhibits, programs, and collections. Its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 items. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also features rotating monthly exhibits.
The British Columbia Aviation Museum Society is located next to the Victoria International Airport and is dedicated to preserving aircraft and artifacts. The Society collects, restores, and displays aircraft and artifacts related to the history of aviation in Canada, with emphasis on British Columbia's aviation history. Museum activities include aircraft restorations to static or airworthy status, constructing engine displays, modeling aircraft, maintaining artifacts, books, pictures and videos representative of flight, and creating memorials to aviation and the people who made it happen.
Colourful aquarium habitats teem with marine life from the Salish Sea. Guests of all ages have the opportunity to shake hands with sea urchins & tickle sea stars in the touch pools. Hundreds of fish, invertebrates and marine plants recreate the ocean environment and give an underwater view that most people never experience.
Experience the sights of hundreds of exotic butterflies flying free in an indoor tropical paradise. Sense the smell of flowering plants, delicate orchids and the rainforest that is home to fascinating birds. Hear the waterfalls as the stream flows for the koi and provides a home for flamingos. Friendly staff, guided tours, an art and gift store, attached restaurant and plenty of free parking will compliment your visit to Victoria Butterfly Gardens.
Butchart Gardens is located 15 km (9 mi) southwest of Sidney on Saanich Inlet and has been designated a National Historic Site. Comprised of 22 ha (55 acres) of floral displays, you will find spectacular views as you stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve safeguards a portion of British Columbia's beautiful southern Gulf Islands, truly a special place - rich in nature, rich in culture. The national park reserve was officially established in May, 2003 and is comprised of lands dotted throughout 15 islands, islets and reefs and protects one of the most ecologically at risk natural regions in Southern Canada. Blessed by a warm Mediterranean climate, this area is home to a myriad of sensitive plant species and diverse wildlife. The national park reserve offers a variety of opportunities for Canadians to learn about and experience an exceptional coastal island landscape and the cultures of the people who live there. Recreational opportunities include boating, kayaking, camping, picnicking and hiking, geocaching, wildlife viewing or simply enjoying the many sheltered beaches. Sidney Spit on Sidney Island (accessible by passenger ferry in the summer months) is renowned for its warm sandy beaches, hiking trails and bird watching- ideal for the whole family.
Symphony Vineyard is known for its Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Leon Millot. There is a tasting room and picnic area which was opened to the public in June 2012. All of Symphony's wines are produced from their own vineyard, and they offer tastings and wine sales during summer and fall weekends. They also sell jams, chutneys, and wine jellies, all made at Symphony from farm fruit.
Vancouver Island's regional and provincial parks provide safe, well-maintained, and well-signed hiking trails through some of the most beautiful areas on the Island. A hike along the Galloping Goose Trail is relatively flat as it is built along an old rail bed. This 55 km (34 mi) trail is accessible from various points. The north leg of the trail connects with the Lochside Regional Trail, a 29 km (18 mi) route that winds its way from Victoria through the Saanich Peninsula to Sidney and Swartz Bay.
Sidney is a hub for saltwater fishing excursions. Year-round salmon fishing is available, as well as cod, snapper, halibut, sole, crab, prawns and shrimp in local waters. Boaters can launch at the Van Isle Marina, or at the Tulista Park boat ramp on Lochside Drive, beside the Anacortes Ferry Terminal.
Divers can explore the wrecks of the G.B. Church and the HMCS Mackenzie. Graham's Wall, Tozier Rock, The White Lady, Burial Islet, Octopus Point, and other hot spots off the peninsula's coast are accessible from Sidney, either as day charters or liveaboards.
Glen Meadows Golf and Country Club in Sidney is a challenging 18-hole championship golf course. Nearby golf courses include the 9-hole Sunshine Hills Golf Course on Central Saanich Road in Saanichton and the challenging 9-hole Prospect Lake Golf Course on Prospect Lake Road in Central Saanich. The Victoria area boasts 8 championship golf courses in close proximity, including Cordova Bay Golf Club, Olympic View Golf Club, Gorge Vale Golf Club, Royal Colwood Golf Club, and Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club. Nearby Oak Bay has the Victoria Golf Club and Uplands Golf Course.
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia