Heritage Acres in Saanich, BC is operated by the Saanich Historical Artifact Society.
Like me, you may have seen the sign for Heritage Acres as you’re driving along the Pat Bay Hwy. And like me, you may have thought the site contained a few old tractors and some farm equipment along with a little train.
Yes, there are tractors … but so much more!
What a great surprise! We stopped in the other day and spent a wonderful and most enjoyable couple of hours just wandering around the site which includes an amazing museum, many heritage buildings, lovely walking trails and yes … the train!
It’s a large, 2-storey building with the main floor arranged into what looks like an old village with storefronts that lead into recreations of old-time businesses. There are also many displays of antique items such as games, medical equipment, printing and typesetting machines, sewing & knitting machines, food and food preparation items and yes, farm equipment! The upper floor is an amazing collection of all types of antique items and oddities … it will either bring back memories for the older folks among us or make the younger ones marvel at how we got along with such ‘primitive’ equipment! LOTS to see!
Once you’re done with the museum, you’re free to wander the grounds – there is 29 acres with lots of trails – and look around at the many old buildings scattered about. There is an old schoolhouse, a chapel, a completely furnished log cabin, tool sheds, machine sheds, a streetcar barn … and more! Most buildings are furnished and open to the public.
The Newman Boathouse holds a collection of marine artifacts, cameras and photographs. These items, as well as the funds to construct the building were generously donated by Mr. John Newman. John, as a long time resident of the Saanich Peninsula. John was a small boat builder, photographer and an Olympic rower in the 1930s. The basement of this building houses a collection of antique boat motors and marine paraphernalia.
This is one of the best historical sites/museums I’ve been to in a long time!
And oh yes … the train! While it wasn’t running when we were there we wandered the tracks … and folks, this isn’t your little ’round the circle’ kind of train. The trains are run by the Vancouver Island Model Engineers and what a ride it is! The tracks are extensive and wind through some beautiful country. There are trestles, tunnels … you’ll pass a large pond complete with a windmill … not your average ‘kiddie train’. One of the comments heard was “You actually feel like you’ve gone somewhere!” (See Below for Photos of Trains)
In addition to the museum, historical buildings and train … there are many beautiful picnic settings for you to enjoy both in the open and covered.
There are many scheduled events throughout the year or you can book the chapel, schoolroom or picnic areas with bbq facilities for your own special events. For more on bookings click this link: Rentals
There is even a general store with some artifacts for sale from excess inventory of the park!
The Nature Trail
There are some beautiful walking trails all through the 29 acre Heritage Acres property. As you wonder through the beautiful forested property you will come upon all kinds of interesting old farm implements, most of the labeled as to their former function. It will also lead you to some good views of the railroad.
Location: 7321 Lochside Dr., Saanich, BC (turn onto Island View Rd. – you’ll see Michell’s Farm market on your right – then turn immediate left onto Lochside Dr)
Hours of Operation
Winter hours are 9:00AM to 1:00 PM daily, October to May
Summer hours are 9:00AM to 4:00PM daily, Mid June to Mid September
Admission are By Donation!
Vancouver Island Model Engineers – VIME
VIME operate their trains on a limited schedule. For dates and times, please check their website: VIME Rundays
ALL VIME train rides are by DONATION, whether or not there is a gate charge.
VIME also offers a limited number of days when trains may be hired for a private event such as a birthday party. For more information see their request page here.