250-477-4401 info@gowardhouse.com

Goward House

Home Away From Home



In 1908, when Bernard and Mary Goward built their new home in the Cadboro Bay forest they named it ‘Woodlands’. That name is as appropriate now as it was then because the garden beds and lawn of today’s Goward House are still nestled within this precious six-acre urban woodland. Interested hikers can experience the beauty and diversity of this forest along a network of footpaths established between 2002 and 2010.

By choosing  combinations of these Goward woodland footpaths, you can go for a  one kilometre walk through this urban woodland without leaving the Goward House property.

Trail maps are available at the front desk.

Building Restoration

In 1989 the District of Saanich commissioned a structural assessment of Goward House (Ker, Priestman & Associates Ltd. 1989). The 1989 engineer’s report identified all of the structural failings that would require attention to bring the building to modern codes and safety standards.

Clearly, the Society’s building committee, the supervising architect and the renovation contractor (Campbell Construction Ltd.) faced several challenges as they brought the former ‘Woodlands’ home back to life. The heritage appearance of the original home was preserved. The most notable change was to raise the entire house by 27 inches, provide a new concrete foundation, and excavate the crawl space sufficiently to create an entirely new lower level. By late 1991, the result was the Goward House we know today, with nearly 8,000 square feet of floor space on three levels.

Funding for the early 1990’s renovation came from many sources. Major contributors included: District of Saanich; Province of B.C.(through the GO-BC Fund); Government of Canada (through the New Horizons Program); Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation; B.C. Seniors Lottery; Vancouver Foundation; Victoria, Foundation; and the Great Canadian Casino Corporation (VI) Ltd. Other contributing organizations included B.C. Heritage Trust, Brock House in Vancouver, and Saanich and Gordon Head Kiwanis.

Everett Peterson on his daily rounds

About Our Woodland

Goward House has six acres of woodland on its property, carefully improved and maintained by our very own devoted foresters Everett  and Merle Peterson, and their crew of volunteers. Throughout the woodland are loop trails for your enjoyment. Learn more below…

Restoration of Goward Gardens and Woodland

In April 2008, Goward House Society received a two-year grant from Saanich Legacy Foundation to upgrade the garden beds and to encourage use of native plant species in the contact zone between garden beds and adjacent woodland.

By summer 2009, approximately 70 potted native plants had been planted in newly enlarged Goward House garden beds. In October 2011, Goward House Society received a grant from the Fido-Evergreen Grant Program under the title “Boundary naturalization in a municipal natural area, Saanich, B.C.” That project, completed in June 2012, resulted in removal of invasive non-native shrubs and vines in a 5-meter-wide band of the Goward woodland along the rear of private properties on Rowley Road

The woodland restoration program has been greatly aided by financial support from Saanich Legacy Foundation, the Fido-Evergreen program, and from Small Sparks grants from Saanich Recreation and Parks. Further restoration is planned to return the Goward woodland to more natural conditions. Priority locations can be seen in ‘Woodlands Restoration Plan’ below.

Before and After

To view the significant impact of restoration efforts in the woodland, please view the gallery of images compiled by Merle Peterson here. To return to this page, click the ‘back to previous page’ button of your browser.

Woodlands Restoration Plan, 2015 – 2019

Woodland restoration has been ongoing since 2015 in seven priority locations:

  • Planting of shore pine, western yew, salal, and sword fern in area cleared of invasive ivy several years ago (2015-2016)
  • Completion of ivy and holly removal bordering Haro Creek wetland (2015-2016)
  • Ivy and holly removal in the Haro Creek floodplain (2015)
  • Ivy removal in centrepiece of open forest near the kindergarten (2015-2017)
  • Ivy removal and conifer planting in woodland edge along Haro Road (2015-2018)
  • Blackberry removal and reintroduction of native ferns and shrubs in the open area bordering Frank Hobbs School grounds (2015-2018)
  • Blackberry removal and reintroduction of native ferns and shrubs in the open area at rear of Rowley Road properties (2015-2019)

The objective is to supplement areas where non-native plants were removed from this woodland between 1990 and 2014. Target date for completion is 2019.

We welcome new volunteers from Goward House Society and from the local community to assist with this restoration project. If interested, please contact Elaine Leonard, Goward House (250-477-4401) or Everett Peterson (250-477-8331).


This photomap shows several entry or exit points that connect chip-surfaced footpaths to the Goward House garden and lawn area. From the map, walkers can find several alternative circular routes of varying lengths to suit their interests. The largest perimeter walk of half kilometer can begin at location C near the lower Arbutus Road entrance to the front parking lot. A hiker can proceed down the hill from location C to location A, a low wetland area of the Haro Creek floodplain dominated by cottonwoods, red alder, skunk cabbage, ferns and horsetail.The three largest cottonwoods on the property occur at location A, and from there the perimeter footpath extends south to the largest Douglas-fir in the Goward woodland at location D.

From location D the perimeter footpath passes through a wetland, then through an unforested blackberry field, to emerge at location B, the site of the largest oak in the Goward woodland. From location B, the perimeter route leads the hiker past several shore pines, emerging near the tearoom of Goward House. A pamphlet with a map of the footpaths is available from the front desk.

Goward House Trail System






For your safety, please do not use these footpaths during high winds when there is risk of falling debris.

Plant Species of Goward Woodland

In 1993, Dr. Richard B. Smith, then a recently retired forest ecologist from the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria, compiled a list of about 90 plant species in the Goward woodland, excluding species of mosses. The existing plant list is available on request from the front desk.

What will the future Goward woodland be like?

In 2009 Saanich Parks and Recreation began development of an Urban Forest Strategy. One early outcome was a realization that although mature urban trees are protected little attention is given to young trees that are a part of natural forest succession. In 2009 Goward House Society began identifying locations of the very few young trees present in the Goward woodland. These are mainly saplings of grand fir and broadleaf maple but also two young Garry oaks and one young cascara sapling. One indication of future changes is that the most conspicuous tree species now in this woodland – Douglas- fir, arbutus, western yew, red alder, black cottonwood, shore pine and willow – have few, if any, young saplings to replace the mature forest now present. The likely future structure and appearance of the Goward woodland is a subject being researched at present.

Further information about Goward House and its surrounding 6-acre woodland can be found in a booklet, From the Beginning…’Woodlands’ and ‘Goward House’: a brief history, available for purchase at the Goward House front desk.

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