Roots and Shoots

Roots and Shoots: the Buzz in Brentwood Bay

by Linda M. Langwith

The early pioneers of Brentwood Bay were a hardy lot, carving farms out of the forest, caring for their families, raising livestock, growing grain, and selling such staples as eggs, butter, milk and other foodstuffs to a growing population in Victoria. Even in those challenging times of long hours and hard work, thought was given to creating and building a sustainable community. George Thomas and his family always made a point of inviting their neighbours to share in traditional Christmas celebrations. The names of guests are familiar street names and landmarks to those who live in Brentwood Bay, featuring the Butlers, Hagans, Greigs, Durrances and Sluggetts, among others. With growing numbers of children to educate, George Stelly and John Sluggett donated land for a school that, just like schools today, also functioned as a gathering place for concerts, recitals and other events, bringing people together for fun and fellowship. Churches too played an important role in the social fabric through pastoral care.

This deep sense of community fostered by the early settlers is very much alive today in the village of Brentwood Bay. Long-time resident Tanga Blackburn, publicity director for the lively Centre for Active Living 50+, remembers riding her horse down West Saanich Road in the ’60s. “Brentwood Bay has the same country feel only friendlier,” she enthuses. Tanga recalls a power outage one Monday last winter that prevented JJ’s, the local coffee shop, from catering to its regular java junkies. “Breadstuffs Bakery, usually closed on a Monday, came to the rescue of the local coffee lovers and opened its doors – that’s real community and that’s what Brentwood Bay is all about.”

With three levels of schools in the neighbourhood, the village is committed to its young people. Plans are in the works to create a new Central Saanich facility for a Boys and Girls Club in the Brentwood Bay Cultural Centre complex. Scouts and Guides meet in the old school house in Pioneer Park, while the Brentwood Community Hall offers a variety of activities, including badminton and karate.

Stewart Story, of Story Construction, is really excited about his family’s latest project in the village core, a commercial building with flexible floor plans, the exterior finished in a pleasing West Coast style similar to the Royal Bank building, which is also part of the Brentwood Centre Development, a partnership between the Story and Charman families. In addition, a 15-unit condo complex will feature spacious floor plans from 976 to 1,115 square feet, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a fourth floor comprising three units of 1,639 square feet each, with vaulted ceilings and water views. Water and garden features will ensure a tranquil setting for the condo owners, while a gated path from the adjacent Brentwood Bay United church property will allow convenient pedestrian access to the current mall. Stewart’s roots go deep in the community: both his grandmother and his great grandmother operated strawberry farms on Veyaness Road, so it is fitting that his family are part of an ongoing process to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future for Brentwood Bay.

According to resident John McLellan, husband of Rev. Jonelle McLellan of Shady Creek and Brentwood Bay United Churches: “People are quite happy with the changes in the village.” Trafalgar Square is due for a facelift, and more mixed use developments are in the planning stage, all within the urban core, allowing Brentwood Bay to keep its special rural and seaside ambience, wrapped in a small town friendly feel.

Upcoming Events

Community Craft Fair at Bayside Middle School, 1101 Newton Place (off Wallace Drive) on Thursday, December 5th, 3 to 7:30 p.m. supporting the joint programs of Central Saanich Boys and Girls Club and Bayside Middle School. Local artisans, silent auction. Followed by:Bayside Winter Band Concert at Bayside Middle School, Thursday December 5th at 7 p.m.

Speakers Series at Seniors Centre for Active Living, 1229 Clarke Road, Brentwood Bay. Friday December 6th, 1:30 p.m. Guest speaker: Gerie Turner, President of the Centre for Active Living. Presentation about her recent trip to Uganda. Refreshments served. Everyone welcome. Admission by donation. Information: 250 652 4611, 9 a.m. to 1 pm or

Bus Trip to Chemainus Theatre Saturday December 7th. Bus Cost: $20. Please arrange to purchase your own tickets to the play It’s a Wonderful Life. For information or to book a place phone the Centre at 250-652-4611, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or visit

Shady Mountain Christmas Concert at Shady Creek United Church, 7180 East Saanich Road. Sunday December 15th, 7 p.m.

Christmas Bingo at the Centre for Active Living, 1229 Clarke Road. Wednesday December 18th at 1 p.m. Special prizes, progressive jackpot and complimentary refreshments. Everyone welcome. Proceeds go to operating costs for the non-profit Seniors Centre supporting seniors throughout the peninsula.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Brentwood Bay United Church, 7162 West Saanich Road. Tuesday December 24th 6:30 p.m.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Shady Creek United Church, 7180 East Saanich Road. Tuesday December 24th, 8:30 p.m.

Christmas Carol Service at Shady Creek United Church, 7180 East Saanich Road, Sunday December 29th at 10:30 a.m. for those who love Christmas carols!

Photo courtesy Saanich Pioneer Society.

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