The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and Nature Canada, Canada’s oldest national nature conservation charity, officially designated the grounds of Government House, a NatureHood site, as part of the expansion of the existing Saanich Peninsula NatureHood to include the entire capital region.

The official ceremony took place on Wednesday, July 12 at 3:30pm at the Government House residence, 1401 Rockland Avenue, Victoria, B.C.

“We are delighted by Her Honour’s passion for nature, and appreciate her support in acknowledging the Government House grounds as a NatureHood site within Victoria’s capital region,” says Bob Peart, National Chair of Nature Canada’s Board of Directors and volunteer with the Friends of Shoal Harbour.

NatureHood is a Nature Canada initiative that inspires urban residents to connect with nature right where they live and to develop a long lasting relationship with nature. The Government House grounds site is within the capital region NatureHood, adjacent to Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon and Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

“Since NatureHood’s inception in 2012, it has expanded to over a dozen Canadian urban centres, further broadening the appeal of nature with all Canadians, especially youth, exposing a new generation of nature lovers and citizen scientists to nature all around them,” says Jill Sturdy, Manager of Nature
Canada’s national NatureHood program. “As a Nature Canada Woman for Nature, Her Honour’s leadership and commitment to promoting nature awareness and appreciation at the local level is commendable.” adds Sturdy.

“The Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary Society (FOSH) is a proud NatureHood partner and works to highlight the amazing nearby nature of the Saanich Peninsula through public events and school trips,” says Sue Staniforth, President of FOSH.

The reception also honours the Urban Sanctuaries Project, initiated by FOSH and now under the leadership of the Robert Bateman Centre. This community initiative aims to inspire youth to become involved in learning more about the natural systems of the region, with a special focus on celebrating the first three Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Pacific Coast.

The Government House grounds contain more than 14 hectares (36 acres) of maintained gardens and Garry oak meadows. The grounds is 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.