Esquimalt Gorge Park is the center of many of Victoria’s family-friendly community events throughout the year, from outdoor concerts to Easter egg hunts for the kids. With its broad green lawns, gorgeous Japanese Garden, water access, playground area and accessible multi-use trails, this park is truly a focal point for family activity.
Highlights of Esquimalt Gorge Park
- Ample parking
- Picnic tables
- Public restrooms
- Stroller and wheelchair-friendly multi-use trails
- Water access
- Japanese Garden
- Nature House
Victoria’s mild climate means its parks can be enjoyed at any time of year. That being said, spring and summer are truly when the Esquimalt Gorge Park is at its best. The broad lawns practically beg sunbathers to spread out their blankets and soak up some rays, while the lush gardens are havens for plant lovers and photographers. There is a large sandy playground is often filled with the laughter of children, and the nearby water is dotted with people out on their boats or sitting on the shore with their fishing poles. The many picnic tables and benches offer a convenient, pleasant place to sit for a while, or get together with your family and friends.
Esquimalt Gorge Park’s Japanese Garden
Just 11.65 hectares in size, the park was first established in 1905, under the name of BC Electric Gorge Park. In 1907, Isaburo Kishida designed North America’s first Japanese Garden here, complementing the existing floating sampan tea room and amusement park. The garden was a popular hotspot in the park, until 1941, when Canadians of Japanese descent were sent to internment camps and a wide-spread anti-Japanese sentiment led to the tragic destruction of the original garden.
The park’s popularity declined from that point until the 1950’s, when the Township of Esquimalt assumed control of it and began systematically improving the park. Over the past few decades, steps have been taken to refurbish and update the area, including recreating the Japanese Garden. Although the garden is not yet as beautiful as it once was, steps continue to be taken to bring this part of the park back to its former glory.
Caring for Esquimalt Gorge Park
Aside from being maintained as a popular destination for family fun, Esquimalt Gorge Park is also a great place for learning about the local ecology. In addition to the many heritage trees found throughout the park, the Gorge Waterway Nature House has been established through a partnership between the Township of Esquimalt and organizations like the World Fisheries Trust. Open on the weekends between 10am and 4pm, the Gorge Waterway Nature House allows visitors an interactive way of exploring the Gorge Waterway’s ecology.
Through community involvement and care, this wonderful family park has come back from the brink, to be enjoyed by people of all ages for generations to come.