12th July 2023
A visit to the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia would not be complete without a visit to beautiful Tod Inlet. It’s a well-hidden hideaway off southern Sannich Inlet that offers boaters far more than just access to the fabulous floral displays of the world famous Butchart Gardens.
The first bright to port is Butchart Cove and the boaters’ entrance to Butchart Gardens. Visitors are welcome to tie up overnight to four buoys (stern tie to the shore) that are provided; however, these are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also a large dock for offloading passengers, dinghy mooring and floatplanes dropping off guests. Visitors are requested to moor their dinghies on the shoreline side of the float to keep the cove side available for visiting tour boats and seaplanes.
Tod Inlet reaches back behind Butchart Gardens into Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and offers ample anchoring room. Anchor in water deeper than 20 feet to protect eelgrass. The inlet is narrow at the entrance and visiting boats should stay close to the starboard side upon entering to avoid a rock to port, marked by Green Buoy U21. The inlet is narrow when seen from Brentwood Bay but opens somewhat after a bend. In the narrow sections, anchoring boats run a stern tie to shore so not to impede the passageway deeper into the inlet. Boats in the more open sections around the bend often can swing without a stern tie. The inlet is well protected from potential winds and offers a good holding bottom.
Towards the end of the inlet is a dinghy dock where visitors can go ashore and hike 25 miles of the trails that wind throughout the park. The park protects a significant portion of the Gowlland Range, one of the last remaining natural areas in Greater Victoria.
It’s a short dinghy ride back to the entrance of the gardens and all that is required to enjoy the gardens is lace up your walking shoes, pick up a map and flower guide at the gate and enjoy a gentle stroll around the picturesque grounds. The main attractions include the Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Star Pond, Italian Garden, Piazza and Mediterranean Garden.
The gardens are stunning! Whether you are an avid gardener or not, you will appreciate the beauty that the grounds provide. As visitors walk stroll the grounds, their senses are awoken by the beauty, stunning colors, aromas, and textures.
In 1904, Robert Butchart and his wife, Jennie, made their home in Tod Inlet. Robert, a successful cement manufacture, was attracted to the location because of its rich limestone deposits. Once he had exhausted the deposits, Jennie came up with an idea to create a garden in the pit that remained. By 1920, the gardens had become so popular that they attracted up to 50,000 visitors each year. The hospitable Butcharts christened their estate “Benvenuto” (Italian for “welcome”) to greet their guests.
The grounds are filled with art objects acquired during the family’s travels. The Fountain of the Three Sturgeons and the bronze casting of the wild boar are both from Florence, Italy. The boar, affectionately known as “Tacca”, is located on Piazza in front of the Butchart Residence. His snout is finely burnished by thousands of visitors who give it an affectionate rub for good luck.