The Capital Regional District staff lead an evening canoe trip around Beaver Lake. The tour touches on the roll of Elk and Beaver lakes in local history

Tranquility amid nature at Beaver Lake

Saanich history and ecology merge on the water with CRD canoe tours

Pamela Patterson pulls her paddle out of the water and places it over her lap. The canoe she’s in continues to glide across the colourful rippled surface of Beaver Lake, reflecting the blues, reds and oranges from the sunset above.

“It’s so quiet,” Patterson says in a slow, relaxed tone.

A bald eagle screams above, an army of bullfrogs hiding in the cattail croak in unison, and a raft of wood ducks quack at the side of the canoe.

Beaver Lake isn’t all that quiet, in the purest sense of the word. But for Patterson, being so far removed from the sounds of the Pat Bay Highway or the bustle of urban living, and amid nature is the kind of quiet she enjoys.

“We live in paradise. And being on the water with the canoe, with the quiet and the nature – there’s nothing like it,” she says.

Patterson is one of eight people taking part in a guided evening canoe trip, put on by the Capital Regional District.

The three-hour tour was a leisurely paddle around the lake, with participants intent on spotting some of the wildlife that call Saanich home.

Naturalists Heather Chatwin and Reed Osler were on hand to lead the trip and talk about the lake’s natural and unnatural history.

“If you’ve ever heard about the bullfrog invasion on Vancouver Island, we’re actually at ground zero of that invasion,” Chatwin tells the group, recounting a story about an entrepreneur in the 1970s who unsuccessfully started up a frog business in Victoria, with the hope of selling their legs to restaurants.

“There wasn’t much of a market for frog legs, and the bullfrogs here take five years to mature. So what happened is all these disgruntled people who bought in to the (business) were sad, and they dumped the bullfrogs into this lake.”

While Chatwin talks about the lake’s history – dams separated Beaver from Elk Lake while it was used as Victoria drinking water supply – she shows off a beaver’s tooth, and pulls out a tin can filled with the scent of castoreum (or natural castor oil).

“I’ve learned a lot from the program that the CRD puts on – the history of the area and the wildlife, how it’s all interconnected,” Patterson says.

While she lives in Kelowna now, the Victoria native returns to Vancouver Island regularly, and participates in the canoe trips at least once a year.

“This is such a great opportunity to get out on the lake. You see wildlife when you’re out on the lake that you just don’t see when you’re running around it,” Osler says.

“It’s amazing to get to see all the different creatures – because every time we go out it’s a different experience – and to be constantly learning every single day,” Chatwin adds.

The CRD offers canoe adventures throughout the summer at Elk/Beaver Lake park. For more information, see crd.bc.ca/parks.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Heather Chatwin, parks naturalist with the Capital Regional District, shows off the impact a beaver could have on a piece of wood, while Evan Wallbridge, 9, looks on. Kyle Slavin/News staff

 

Just Posted

Electrical appliance failure likely caused apartment fire that killed one Saanich resident

Large parts of the Richmond Road apartment building remain uninhabitable following June 21 fire

Artificial reef created off East Sooke

Divers are discovering plenty of new sea life

Garden suite applications on the rise, but not without a few hitches: staff report

Victoria city council to hear update on revised garden suite application process

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

UPDATED: Wanted man facing sex-related charges arrested by Sidney North Saanich RCMP

West Shore RCMP asked for the public’s help locating Richard Tom, 32, earlier this month

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

UPDATE: Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ North Island house fire

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Most Read