The Gorge Canada Day Picnic main stage will host plenty of acts throughout the day. And you can wear your love of country on your sleeve, or on your shoulder. File photos

Organizers brace for upwards of 15,000 at Gorge Canada Day Picnic

New online map navigates 19th annual Gorge Canada Day Picnic

With more than 10,000 people spread over 1.7-kilometres along the Gorge Waterway from Tillicum to Admirals Road, and dozens of features and events on the route, there’s an annual question of how to best navigate the Gorge Canada Day Picnic.

To make it easier, the organizers of the 19th annual Gorge Canada Day Picnic have taken the navigation to the next level, creating an new interactive online map. It works well with smart phones, a handy pocket guide to maximize a stroll through Saanich’s biggest annual event.

“It’s extremely helpful,” said Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, who’s been on the organizing committee all 19 years. “With so much going on this allows you to see where everything is and bring them up, everything.”

The organizing committee estimated upwards of 15,000 people came through the picnic last year.

“We [estimated] close to 15,000 last year, it’s hard to get a pure count because people come and go, it’s a whole neigbhourhood,” Wickson said. “People arrive by water, from across the Craigflower Bridge, and any number ways, there’s so many entry points.”

This year View Royal is adding a neighbouring event with the opening of Craigflower Manor for the day. The Manor will have a beer garden, run by the Highland Games Society.

It’s not associated with the same event as the Gorge Canada Day Picnic, but it does lead back to the original plan from 1999, Wickson said.

“The vision in 1999 was to close Craigflower Bridge for the event. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s an appetite from people to do that. This is an event started by the community and it’s going to continue that way. It’s a take charge event by the community, not asking for others to do something, but doing something itself, because this isn’t Saanich staff’s community.”

This year’s July 1 event includes the usual, starting at 8:30 a.m. with the parade, followed by dozens of art exhibits, market stalls, voyageur canoe rides, music stages, a car show and tons of food.

Most importantly, the map can be easily navigated on smart phones, with clickable links showing where the live music and other events will be. It also shows the traffic barriers which will be erected about one block north of Gorge Road, for those early birds seeking parking nearby.

Festivities culminate at 4 p.m., at which time plenty of buses will head downtown where Victoria is hosting the 150th Canada Day celebration. Gorge Road from Tillicum to Admirals will be closed to traffic from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The parade will boast a guest appearance by the Queen of England and Princess Kate. A guest reincarnation of Emily Carr will also be around to tell stories and do a little painting, of course.

Families are welcome to join the firetrucks and police cars in the parade, and kids are encouraged to decorate their bicycles with flags and wear red.

The parade route starts at Tillicum and slinks up Gorge Road, ending at Admirals where there’s a pancake breakfast from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Craigflower-Kosapsom Park. Plate of pancakes for $3. Coffee for $1.

Nearly everything else is free but for a nominal fee to attend the Strawberry Tea or take a voyageur canoe ride, hosted by the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club at Craigflower-Kosapsom Park.

Need to know:

The picnic is rain or shine. Bring sunscreen, a hat and walking shoes.

Bring a reusable water bottle. There is a CRD water cart refilling station.

Transit:

No. 11 bus will run from Tillicum Mall down Tillicum to Gorge Road at the Tillicum/Gorge Road intersection until 6 p.m. It will not run through the Admirals/Tillicum/Gorge neighbourhood.

A shuttle bus will operate from lower Tillicum Mall to Burnside, right on Tillicum, right on Obed, left on Dysart, right on Cowper, left on Admirals to Craigflower, left on Tillicum back to Tillicum Mall at the approximate scheduled departure times in the rider’s guide.

The shuttle bus will stop on Craigflower at Admirals and Craigflower at Tillicum (Gorge Golf Course) to connect with the No. 14 and No. 26, and on: Tillicum at Gorge to get to the Gorge Picnic or connect with No. 8 or No. 11 to downtown.

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Wear red with pride in the morning parade at the Gorge Canada Day Picnic. File photo

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