Walbran Park

 

Walbran Park is in the community of Oak Bay, one of thirteen communities that form the Capital Regional District of British Columbia. Named after Captain John T. Walbran, a mariner and author of the nineteen o’nine book titled ‘British Columbia Coast Names’, Walbran Park has two sections: it hosts a cairn dedicated to explorations of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and a Second World War observation post.  The Board of Canada established a Historical Site Monument in the park in nineteen twenty-five. The plaque on the cairn indicates that in 1592 the Strait of Juan de Fuca was discovered but it took until 1787 before Charles William Barkley explored the area.  Later, in 1792, Captain George Vancouver explored the Strait and surrounding waterways for the British Government. The area was further explored when Captain Walbran, whom initially served on the British training ship HMS Conway, cruised the Strait of Georgia and areas aboard the SS Quadra. This section is about two hectares in size. Also Walbran Park, take in the breathtaking vista from the World War II platform observation post located across the street from the rock cairn.  The concrete platform provides a fantastic panoramic view of Oak Bay’s and Victoria’s hidden coves and bays. The platform has a metal nineteen step staircase and metal deck. This section, about one hectare in size, of the parkland is also composed of gneiss rock of the Coquitz and Weiss terranes. The rocks show some glacial striations and are mostly covered by mosses, lichens, grasses and springtime flowers. Small shrubs, mostly broom and a few Garry oak trees can also be found in this hilltop parkland. Gonzales Hill Regional Park and Sunny Green Space are nearby.

Geographic Location N48º 24’ 42”  W123º 19’ 14”

Walbran Park can be reached from the Trans-Canada Highway. Continue along the Hwy 1 into Victoria as it becomes Douglas Street. Turn off Douglas onto Hillside Avenue to head east. Stay on Hillside Avenue as it becomes Lansdowne Road. Continue along Lansdowne Road to reach Foul Bay Road. Continue along Foul Bay Road to reach Fairfield Road. Turn left onto Fairfield Road and continue along to Denison Road. Turn right onto Denison Road and continue up the hill past the parking area for Gonzales Hill Regional Park to the end of the road. There is limited roadside parking along Denison Road.  City busses travel close to this park and the park can be access by walking up the trail and stepping up the 116 stairs near intersection of Sunny Lane and King George Terrace.  It is near a public beach access to McNeill (Shoal) Bay.

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Robert J. Porter Park

Porter Park arch Porter Park tree

A one and three quarters of a hectare Garry oak meadow with several rocky outcrops forms the Fairfield neighborhood park called Robert John Porter Park. R.J. Porter Junior was the mayor of the City of Victoria from nineteen nineteen to nineteen twentyone. The park is mostly a  natural rocky meadowland with two playgrounds on sand bases. It borders along Fairfield Road although the granite rock outcrop partially obscures the view of most of the parkland. Picnic tables and benches are found in the park. The playground area off of Kipling Street has a tetter-totter, climbing arch, a high long metal slide with a curly pole and four swings, two with toddler seats. This play lot has several large granite boulders and an excellent alder forested area as nature play sites. The second playground is slight north of the first one and lies near the corner of Thurlow and Kipling Streets. It has colorful plywood structures shaped like a rig truck, slide, swing and covered shelter with benches. For the imaginative parent and child this space is fun. The western end of the park has a large grass covered field. The Fairfield Community Garden, Fairfield Community Center and Sir James Douglas Elementary School Green Space lie to the west of Porter Park. Just across Kipling Street is Brooke Street Park.

Geographic coordinates N48° 24′ 50” W123° 20′ 44″

Robert Porter Park can be reached from Blanchard Street. Turn east onto Fairfield Road and follow along to Kipling Street. Turn right onto Kipling Street and look for the park to the left. There is limited roadside parking. City buses travel along Fairfield Road from downtown Victoria.

Rockland Woodland Garden

Rockland Woodland Garden  trailA unique neighborhood naturalized garden is found at the northern junction of Craigdarroch Road and Joan Crescent. Sown with native plants like snowberries, Oregon grape, sword fern, camas, western trumpet honeysuckle, Nootka rose and ocean spray, the garden represents the terrain of Southern Vancouver Island pre-eighteen hundred. Outcroppings of granite rocks cover much the ground around the taller Garry oak, big leaf maple and black locust trees. The maintenance of the natural garden is through cooperation between the Rockland Neighborhood Association, Central Middle School teachers and students and the City of Victoria. There are information signs near the footpath into the garden as well as along the twenty step staircase to the upper section of the woodland. This is a wonderful place to explore in your backyard.

Geographic coordinates N48° 25′ 24” W123° 20′ 40″

Rockland Woodland Garden can be reached from Blanchard Street. Turn east onto Fort Street and follow along to Joan Crescent, which is across from Central Middle School. Look for the signs toward Craigdarroch Castle as it is slightly further along Joan Crescent. Turn right onto Joan Crescent and look for the garden at the y-junction with Craigdarroch Road. There is limited roadside parking in this neighborhood. City buses travel along Fort Street between downtown and the University of Victoria.