The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary consists of two distinct areas (download a map here);
- marshy lowlands surrounding Swan Lake
- rocky, oak-forested highlands of Christmas Hill
The marsh around Swan Lake provides good habitat for many birds and small animals, including muskrat, river otter and mink. They make their homes in the rock walls, marsh grasses and cattails beside the lake. Swan Lake's water comes from a large watershed to the north and the east, which includes Blenkinsop Lake. The water drains west from the lake into the Colquitz River and drains into the Pacific Ocean at Portage Inlet.
The highland environment of Christmas Hill is in marked contrast to the lowlands of Swan Lake. The glacially moulded rock faces, the vernal (seasonal) pond and the majestic view from the hilltop are of special interest to visitors. The meadows surrounding Christmas Hill bloom with a sea of wildflowers in the spring. The Swan Lake and Christmas Hill sections are connected by a trail corridor. A 2.5-kilometre loop trail, that includes two wharves and a floating walkway, provide access to the lake area.
Swan Lake History
The lake was formed 12,000 years ago when the last glacier receded. Swan Lake was rescued from oblivion just a few decades ago. During most of its recent history it was a dumping ground for raw sewage, dairy farms and a winery. Cleanup began in the 1970's and today the lake is a rich habitat for a variety of wildlife.
The Nature Sanctuary Society
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is a nature education centre. It is a registered charitable organization run by the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society (Charity # 11920 7157 RR0001). The lands and facilities are owned by the Corporation of the District of Saanich, and the Nature Sanctuary Society operates through a land management agreement with Saanich since June, 1975.