Steven Haley-Browning

Steven Haley-Browning

New kids on the old block

Heritage Bistro owners take local history to heart

The eyes of the Prospect Lake community are on Steven Haley-Browning and Graham Little. The owners of the Heritage Bistro on West Saanich Road are getting a lot of attention in rural Saanich for melding old with new in a building rich with history.

The restaurant, at the corner of West Saanich and Prospect Lake roads, is the latest tenant to occupy a 101-year-old building that started life as the Prospect Lake General Store in 1913.

“What’s it like being in such an old building? High hydro bills,” Haley-Browning says with a laugh. “I swear it’s haunted. There are days we left at night where the lights were off, and we came back the next morning and the lights were on. We checked the alarms and no one’s come in or out. It’s got its own little quirks, its own little stories.”

Despite Heritage Bistro being new to the community – it opened on Feb. 17 – once you step inside you’re treated to a walk down memory lane, with walls covered in historical photos of the building’s storied past.

“A lot of community members have come in and given us their pictures from when this was a postal outlet and a general store. There’s photos with the trolley cars in front of it, and people hitching their horses in front to come in,” says Haley-Browning, operations manager. “These things should be in a museum; it’s memorabilia since the time this place has been around and the different areas of business it has done. … You don’t get that (community connection) in a new building.”

For most of the 20th century, the building operated as a general store. That’s changed in the last decade, as ownership switched hands five times. Until 2008, it operated as Prospect Lake Market. For less than a year, in 2008, it was SOL (Sam Otter Links) Farms.  From 2008-2010 it was Ken’s Café at Prospect Lake, then Tia’s Heritage Café Co. from 2010 to late 2013.

The second floor of the two-storey building contains a living area, but it’s being used as office space right now.

Haley-Browning, former owner of Haley’s Hideaway in Sidney, says operating a restaurant in rural Saanich is a very different experience from being located on a busy, walkable street.

“There’s a learning curve. We’re on the way to The Butchart Gardens, at the entrance to Prospect Lake. Something like 10,000 cars go by here every day. As far as being out in the middle of nowhere, we are but we’re not,” he said. “This place, the building, is a destination.”

Heritage Bistro is at 5303 West Saanich Rd. For more info on the restaurant, visit


Storied past

On March 15, 1911, Saanich pioneer John Durrance signed a land transaction with Saanich to take ownership of the property at what became 5303 West Saanich Rd. He paid $200 for the land.

Rancher Samuel McCullough, who moved from Ireland with his wife Susanna in the early 1890s, built the Prospect Lake General Store around 1913.

Their daughter Sarah and her husband, John (Jock) Nisbet Findlay, a roofer, ran the store, which included the local post office.

Between 1946 and 1963, Jack and Evelyn Durrance owned and operated the store. Jack was the son of John Durrance.

The building was added to the Saanich Heritage Register around 1991.

– Courtesy of Saanich Heritage Register

Just Posted

Police are looking for witnesses and video footage after a crash on June 18. (Photo courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP looking for videos related to Corvette crash

Driver believed to have fled the scene of View Royal crash

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Greater Victoria with unusually high temperatures expected Monday and this coming weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria’s first week of summer will be a scorcher

Special weather statement issued Monday by Environment Canada

A rendering shows what the Doral Forest Park development would look like from the southwest. (Rendering via D’AMBROSIO Architecture & Urbanism)
Beaver Lake area project passes next hurdle in Saanich

Council approval for 242-unit parks edge development hinges on meeting of conditions

Victoria police are looking for the owner of a pink and white bike they recovered in North Park. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police searching for owner of child’s bike

Officers recovered the pink and white bike in North Park

A report on food security in Sooke reveals that nearly 15 per cent of people in Sooke have trouble getting food on the table. (The Canadian Press)
Food security a growing challenge in Sooke

‘This isn’t going to get any better if we don’t do anything about it’

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Most Read