Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary

The mission of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is to be a leader in the stewardship of functioning & diverse ecosystems and an urban refuge that provides opportunities to bring people and nature together.


We provide a diverse and enriching experience with a focus on natural history, education and ecological restoration to inspire personal action in stewardship activities. We achieve this by:

  • Fostering an understanding and appreciation of nature through direct experiences
  • Demonstrating responsible stewardship of our lands and ecosystems through sound ecological restoration and conservation
  • Providing education that encourages personal responsibility for the care and protection of the natural environment.
  • Developing and fostering community partnerships and providing rewarding opportunities for our staff and volunteers.


The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary consists of two distinct areas (download a map here or watch a video here);

  • marshy lowlands surrounding Swan Lake
  • rocky, oak-forested highlands of Christmas Hill


Swan Lake
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. 

Christmas Hill
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.


3873 Swan Lake Road
Victoria, BC V8X 3W1


Contact name: 

Kathleen Burton

Phone number: 



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Description of volunteer opportunities: 

Over the years Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary volunteers have been critical for maintenance, aiding in programs, helping with administration, serving on the Board, and in many other ways, including special events. We could not operate to the level we do without the help of our dedicated volunteers.


Christmas in July

 Christmas in July - evening guided hike
Tuesday, July 25, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Come share the magic of Christmas Hill during a fabulous evening guided hike. Stretch your limbs and listen to the chorus of birds while checking out the great view from a spectacular vantage point. You may even discover the legends of Christmas Hill.
Suitable for families and children over 7 years. Bring a water bottle. Free but donations are greatly appreciated.
Pre-registration required by calling 250-479-0211 after May 1.



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Creatures of the Summer Night

Friday, July 28, 8 pm to 9:30 pm OR
Friday, August 25, 8 pm to 9:30 pm
Check out the nightlife of Swan Lake! Sharpen your senses to look for owls, bats and other nighttime creatures. Using a grab bag of tricks we’ll discover how these animals are adapted to their nocturnal life.
Suitable for families with children over 6 years.
$4 each for Members / $6 each Non-Members.

Pre-registration required by calling 250-479-0211 after May 1.



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Nature Explorers

Nature Explorers, Summer, 2017

- a drop-off program for kids 7 to 10 years old
A series of 2-hour classes on Fridays from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Each class explores a different nature theme through activities, hikes, experiments and more.


July 7 - Magical Marsh
July 14 - Hanging with Herptiles
July 21 - Geological Journey
July 28 - Wondrous Water



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Les Petits Explorateurs

Les petits explorateurs

– a drop-off program for French Immersion nature enthusiasts 5 to 7 years old
This series of four 2-hour classes are for children aged 5 to 7 years who are learning French. Each class features a different nature theme offering discovery, play, and lots of outdoor fun!


Semaine 1/Week 1 - Animal & Plant Movement/Le Movement



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BIG & little

Big & Little - for 3 to 5-year-olds and their adult friend

Tuesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

These fun and interactive programs include hands-on discovery, an outside ramble, a story and a craft.

July 11 - Lovely Ladybugs
July 18 - Awesome Amphibians
July 25  - Terrific Turtles
August 1 - Outstanding Owls
August 8 - Busy Beavers
August 15 - Super Snakes




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Homeschool Science


Home School Science (7 to 10 years)

This series of four 2-hour classes is for home-schooled children aged 7 to 10 years. We provide nature-themed programs with games, discovery and activities which encourage science-based learning while socializing with other home learners.


Cost $80 | Friends of the Sanctuary $60 per 4 week session. Please call the office at 250.479.0211 to register



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Biology Buddies

Kids belong outside!

Our Biology Buddies nature classes focus on the natural wonders around Swan Lake. Each class has a different nature theme, which we interpret through games, stories, crafts and an outside ramble. A joyful nature experience is always our goal.

Summer 2017 Sessions - July and August

Monday to Thursday




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Support for the Eco Learning Hive generously provided by: