Kinsmen Gorge Park is in the seaside community of Esquimalt, one of thirteen communities that form the Capital Regional District of British Columbia. Nestled on the south side of the Gorge Waterway, there are eleven and half hectares of landscaped play lands. As you stroll into this park you get the peaceful feeling that green grass and shade from tall Douglas fir and heritage trees brings. The gentle slopes host a variety of garden areas including the rose garden, perennial borders and a Japanese garden. The walkways are asphalt, concrete and a few are covered in gravel or wood chips. The walkway along the waterway has viewpoints with benches along the railed length. Head toward the Gorge Bridge to see the tidal rapids ebb or flow. There is an annual rowing race for those who want to challenge themselves. It is hosted through the Gorge Rowing Club. There are ladders on the retaining walls that provide access from the water. Most areas along the pathway have steps as well as ramps. There are two pedestrian bridges that cross over the creek. A stroll along the perimeter pathways is about one and half kilometers.
The small swimming area, into the ocean water of the Gorge Waterway, is from the mud-sand beach near the creek. This tidal beach can be used to launch a personal watercraft. The Gorge Creek flows into the Gorge Waterway through this park. Its two hundred hectare watershed forms the one and half kilometer urban long creek. The banks of Gorge Creek are fortified with rocks along both sides. Its riparian area is formed mostly from cottonwood trees with an under-story of grasses, ocean spray, Oregon grape and snowberry bushes. There are also arbutus, big leaf maple and oak trees in this parkland.
Picnic sites and picnic tables are found throughout the park. There are several along the water and near the play area. The playground is composed of climbing apparatus, swings and slides. Its based is a sandy gravel surface. There is a large grassy field that provides an off-leash area for dogs and many other grass covered slopes. The building that once housed a concession is now a Nature House that provides public education for hands-on learning, educational information and nature presentations. It may also have drinks and snacks.
This parkland has long been used as an outdoor getaway as the British Columbia Electric Company hosted picnics, concerts and additional entertainment in the late eighteen hundreds. The Takada Japanese Gardens, designed by Isaburo Kishida and built in the early nineteen hundreds, can be explored. The gardens were operated as a Tea House for years by the Takada Family. Fortunately the Japanese Gardens were restored and maintained by local citizens. Gorge Park is a fantastic area for kids to place and is toddler friendly. It is a good place to launch personal watercraft like paddleboard, kayaks and canoes.
Geographical location 48 25’ 24” 123 45’ 12”
Kinsmen Gorge Park can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway. Take the exit for Tillicum Road and continue along south past Tillicum Mall. As you head south, cross the Gorge Bridge from Saanich and look for the entrance to the park on your right, across from Gorge Point Pub. You can park here and stroll along the water or park further in the park. It is a short stroll over Gorge Bridge to get to Gorge Park on the north side of Gorge Waterway.
There are several other accesses into the park. You can enter from Gospher Crescent and from Craigflower Road. There is a small parking lot at the foot of Sioux Place from which you can get into the park by crossing over a foot bridge. You can take three different bus routes to the park. Buses travels along Tillicum Road, Craigflower Street and along Gorge Road.
More information about the history of this park and surrounding area can be found in Maureen Duffus’s Beyond the Blue Bridge
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