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Heritage Passport offers ticket to Saanich's historically significant buildings

Booklet is a guide to landmark spots in Saanich

You don’t need a passport to take a trip down memory lane in Saanich this summer, but the municipality will gladly give you one.

Building on the popularity of its self-guided Heritage Walking Tour guides — which highlight properties with heritage value throughout the municipality — Saanich has unveiled a Heritage Passport, now available at its municipal hall on Vernon Avenue.

The booklet includes a map of seven heritage buildings and one structure — the Swan Lake trestle — in the municipality’s core and Quadra areas. The self-guided tour generally takes one hour and 15 minutes to walk, or 15 minutes to cycle, excluding stops to admire the buildings.

“A heritage building doesn’t necessarily mean it is old,” said Sonia Nicholson, vice-president of the Saanich Heritage Foundation, which produced the new passport. “The building could be a landmark in the community, be part of a story of significance, included because of the architecture it represents or the architect who designed it. Alone, without information, a building lacks context. With information, suddenly you have a story of the people who built it, lived in it and the area around it.”

The 24-page booklet — a joint project of the foundation and the district’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Advisory Committee — is designed to engage the reader, regardless of age.

Under a picture and description of each site are questions and blank spaces for people to record what they observe. After they’re finished answering the questions, participants can drop the passports off at Saanich municipal hall to be entered for a prize draw.

The booklet also includes blank pages at the end for notes or drawings, and participants are invited to share their photos on social media and tag them #saanichheritagehunt.

“The booklet is meant for all ages, although I kid-tested it with my own children, 10 and 15 years old,” said Nicholson, who has lived in the municipality on and off since 1997.

The Heritage Passport tour starts at Saanich municipal hall and ends at the former Tolmie School building on Boleskine Road, although you can visit the properties in any order.

The booklet also includes four other properties that aren’t on the itinerary but are in the neighbourhood, if you’re up for extra exploration.

While the municipal hall is open during regular business hours, the other locations are private properties and not open to the public.

If the new format proves popular with the public this summer, it may serve as a template for future publications, such as guides to view public art or cultural sites.

The Saanich Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit society that promotes the preservation, maintenance and restoration of designated municipal heritage sites.

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