French Beach Provincial Park
Victoria - Sooke, Vancouver Island,
This 59 hectare park along the spectacular Strait
of Juan de Fuca offers beautiful trails, whale watching, secluded
campsites and waterfront picnic areas.
Imagine loving to travel so much, you would walk
across Canada! Imagine falling through the ice in the Northwest
Territories, losing to frostbite all the toes off one foot and the
heel of your other, thanking aboriginal knowledge that you did not
lose more! Imagine not stopping there, traveling by boat and canoe
down the Bulkley Valley to Vancouver, and then paddling around Vancouver
Island to find your future home!
It took pioneer James French two adventurous
years to travel from New Brunswick to Victoria. He pre - empted
the land west of Sooke in 1885. French was an early naturalist,
traveling the world to bring exotic animals to zoos for public enjoyment
and education. After an expedition to Africa, French once brought
home a small elephant shortly before selling it to the Woodland
Park Zoo in Seattle.
French died in 1952, survived by his family who
continued to live on the property and play an active part in local
logging. French had hoped that a much larger section of the west
coast of Vancouver Island would be made into a provincial park.
His home and favourite beach would become French Beach Provincial
Park in 1974...twenty years later, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
would further his dream.
French Beach lies within the traditional territory
of the TSou-ke First Nation. Their economy was based on hunting,
fishing, and gathering, extended families among the Straits people
owned the lands and resources which could not be sold but inherited.
Situated on the straits of Juan de Fuca. This
59 hectare park is situated on the Strait of Juan de Fuca 5 km east
of Jordan River. Beautiful hiking trails lead you through second
growth forest of Douglas fir, Ditka spruce, western hemlock and
western red cedar to the beach. You will also find salal, Oregon
grape, and evergreen huckleberries, and a large variety of ferns
along the trails.
Once on the beach, there are excellent whale
watching opportunities. These magnificent animals migrate to northern
feeding grounds in the spring and return south in the fall.
French Beach is also an excellent location
observe seabirds, bald eagles, and ospreys. Otters, seals, and
lions can also be seen playing offshore.
French Beach is located near the northern
edge of the Olympic Peninsula rain shadow and receives more precipitation
than Victoria but much less than areas to the northwest such as
Port Renfrew or Bamfield.
Watch the Ocean
Killer Whales and Grey Whales have often been
observed swimming past the beach or feeding just off the points.
The best time to see Grey Whales is during their migration from
the Mexican coast to Alaska during March and April. Both California
and Northern Sealions can be found here from late August through
May. Harbour Seals are often seen offshore, they can be recognized
by their basketball-shaped heads bobbing at the surface.