Dean Park graced with new interpretive display, sign

The dedication of an interpretive display recognizing John Dean took place last weekend

Joe Benning

NORTH SAANICH — The dedication of an interpretive display recognizing John Dean and his contribution to the citizens of B.C. in John Dean Provincial Park took place Saturday, May 11.

It was a unique and rather special event commemorating the donation of the land for the park by Dean with a sign designed by Edley Signs. This is the first of several signs for the park planned by the Friends of John Dean Park Society and B.C. Parks.

Dean was the first person to donate land to be held in perpetuity as a provincial park. Because of him pioneer settlers that owned adjacent properties to his donated land that was used for the access road, now called Dean Park Road, and to increase the size of the park, which is now 427 acres.

John Dean Provincial Park is the third oldest park in the province and is one of the best maintained parks thanks to the work over the years by members of the Friends and other volunteers.

Gary Zilkie, a member of the Friends Board of Directors, delivered the opening remarks during the dedication, thanking all those who have contributed to the maintenance and upkeep of the park. He paid a special thanks to Jarrett Teague, who has volunteered many years maintaining the trails and provided the original idea and source material for the display.

Sidney Councillor Kenny Podmore thanked the Friends for the invitation, saying because of it he had learned a great deal about John Dean.

“Dean was very industrious and self-sufficient,” Podmore said. “He was a world traveller who looked for ways to improve the world around him. He was interested in nature, became a politician and was known to be kind and generous.”

Friends President, Margaret Reeve noted seventy-five years ago this week, on May 14, 1938, Dean attended the first community event in the park at 87 years of age. That event celebrated the completion of the access road and the major trails that had been built as the result of a Federal work relief program during the Great Depression.

Joe Benning, B.C. Parks Area Supervisor for Saanich and the South Gulf Islands, acknowledged the creativity and hard work that went into the research, development and artistry of the interpretive display.

“This is my favourite part of the job,” said Benning as he unveiled the display. “Projects like these make it possible for people to leave the park with knowledge that builds respect and appreciation for nature and natural systems.”

For more information about The Friends of John Dean Park Society, please contact Friends President Margaret Reeve at 250-652-3282.

— Submitted by Maureen Dale