News Release: Naturehood Plaque at Government House


nature canada logofosh logo

Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia unveils NatureHood site plaque
to nurture a new generation of nature lovers

VICTORIA, B.C.  December 18, 2017 — The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, unveiled a plaque today to officially designate the grounds of Government House a Nature Canada NatureHood site. Earlier this year, Her Honour designated the grounds of Government House a NatureHood site to commemorate Canada’s sesquicentennial.

“Nature Canada is honoured to have its NatureHood site plaque unveiled today by the Honourable Judith Guichon,” says Bob Peart, National Chair of Nature Canada’s Board of Directors and volunteer with the Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH). “These historic grounds on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations are the ceremonial home of all British Columbians. It is an ideal place to inspire urban BC residents to connect with nature right where they live and to appreciate this remarkable and unique part of Canada’s heritage.” he adds.

“Nature Canada’s NatureHood program is all about inspiring urban Canadians, especially youth, to explore nearby nature and help to foster a new generation of nature lovers,” says Jill Sturdy, Manager of Nature Canada’s national NatureHood program. “As a Nature Canada Woman for Nature, Her Honour’s leadership in encouraging children to explore nature will continue to be felt for many years to come.” adds Sturdy.

The Government House gardens are open to the public year-round. The NatureHood plaque is located at the trailhead of the Woodlands trail, featuring native plants of British Colombia, including unique Garry oak habitat. Government House is located within the capital region NatureHood, adjacent to Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon and Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

The Government House Grounds:
The Government House grounds contain more than 14 hectares (36 acres) of maintained gardens and Garry oak meadows. The grounds are divided into numerous different zones according to plant life and/or garden style including: the British Columbia native plant garden which contains species unique to the province; a Cottage Garden which is arranged in an informal style with a mixture of ornamental and edible plants; gardens to supply cut flowers, herbs, and an orchard with apple, plum, and quince trees; a rock garden tended by the Heather Society of Victoria; iris, lily, rhododendron; rose gardens (including a formal Victorian rose garden based on the plan of that at Warwick Castle in England); and, water features such as the fountain pond and the duck pond. There is also a unique 8.9 hectares (22 acres) Garry Oak ecosystem. The gardens are open to the public year-round and are enjoyed by many visitors.

For media comment please contact:

Bob Peart, Chair, Nature Canada Board of Directors
250-655-0295 |

Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager
613-276-7226 |

About Nature Canada and NatureHood: Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada, a nature conservation charity, has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of over 50,000 supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country and with affiliates in every province. One of its signatory initiatives is the NatureHood program that inspires urban residents to connect with Nearby Nature – nature right where they live. Working closely with grassroots naturalist groups, NatureHood promotes nature through celebratory events, educational and stewardship activities and wildlife observation. NatureHood aims to inspire a new generation of nature lovers. For more information visit

About Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH): The Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary Society (FOSH), a non-profit society works to build public support for the continued protection of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which encompasses several of the bays and inlets just north of Sidney, and to promote public awareness and appreciation through celebratory events. The sanctuary is part of the Sidney Channel Important Bird Area. FOSH is a local NatureHood partner. Visit

Post Event Update


Bob Peart, Co-Chair of Friends of Shoal Harbour, and the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, pose for an admiring crowd


Letter by R.Peart summarizing a presentation to North Saanich Mayor & Council, Monday, November 20, 2017


Lunch break on the Scoter Trail along Patricia bay (unrestored section)

November 30, 2017

Mayor and Council

RE: Recent Friends of Shoal Harbour presentation

I want to thank you for the invitation to speak to Council on Monday November 20th about the activities of the Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) and the NatureHood program.  We thank you for your continual support for our initiatives.  So much appreciated.

The points I made include:

The ecological, cultural and economic value of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
And to this end, how important it is that there is cooperation with Sidney in its care and management.

Tsehum Harbour, Roberts Bay, etc are ecologically significant areas and that the management of the foreshore development is crucial to the protection of its habitat.
As the Saanich Peninsula is situated so much within a marine context, the management of Pat Bay is important as well — as the migratory birds move back and forth to feed and rest.
And to this end, how important the Scoter Trail is so that people can walk along the shore and enjoy the waters and scenery of Pat Bay.

In 2013, we hosted a forum: Sharing our Shores: Towards a Community Vision for Tsehum Harbour and the Shoal Harbour MBS; and that we intend to host a follow-up forum in Spring 2018. Again any community vision involves cooperation between yourselves and Sidney council.

Regarding NatureHood:
The focus of NatureHood is on reconnecting children and families with nature.  Nature in ‘your hood’ — NatureHood.  To this end we deliver a variety of programs to youth and school children to get them outside and learn about where they live. There is much health research about the value of being outside.

In 2015, the Saanich Peninsula received the designation of NatureHood in a ceremony with the Lieutenant Governor. In 2017, that designation was expanded to include the entire capital region, with a sign being erected at Government House in early December to honour this designation.
One of the fun and important programs of FOSH and NatureHood is the annual Bufflehead FFestival.  We see the Bufflehead Festival as an important way to bring people to the Saanich Peninsula to enjoy the winter birds, and that over time it can become an important economic asset and destination, like similar bird festivals around the province.  It is encouraging that the Robert Bateman Centre has become a key supporter of the Bufflehead Festival, indeed this year he even painted a special bufflehead painting to commemorate the occasion. Again we thank you for your support of FOSH and its annual bufflehead day program.

I reminded you of the ‘sister sanctuaries’ of Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary; and that similar programs are occurring with them as well.

In closing I made two specific requests:
1. The proposed boundaries of the Strait of Georgia NMCA do not include Shoal Harbour MBS.  This omission doesn’t make sense to us.  So our request that in any correspondence related to the NMCA, or in any meetings with Parks Canada, if you could support our request that SHMBS be included within its boundaries that would be appreciated.
2. That financial resources be made available to extend the Scoter Trail north as far the reserve lands, as has been recommended previously.

We know that you are supportive of an integrated approach to the management of SHMBS and the Saanich Peninsula, and we thank you for your support of FOSH and our volunteer work.  If we can work in any way to broaden the knowledge and education about this region and to build a ‘nature vision’ with North Saanich citizens please let us know.


Bob Peart
Chair, Nature Canada
Vice-chair, FOSH




Cantilevered from the crumbling bank,
brought low but curving to the light,
this fir persists.
One heavy rain into the clay might
refresh its roots or bring it down.
What to do but fashion needles, ripen cones?

Through the forest in the slope behind me
sunlight warms my shoulders.
The bright patch moves seawards,
shrinks and fades.
I will not follow it.
Like the fir, I take what I need from this place,
learning not to ask “How long?”

(F.M. Boyce 27-09-2017)