Mount Tolmie marker gives visitors better bearings

A new directional marker at the top of Mount Tolmie helps people orient themselves while they check out the view.

A new directional marker at the top of Mount Tolmie helps people orient themselves while they check out the view.

Victoria Taxi driver Doug Size frequents Mount Tolmie at least five times a month.

Recently he brought a group of cruise ship passengers from Houston, Tex. to the summit to check out the views on a clear spring morning.

He pointed out, as he does to all tourists, the observatory on Little Saanich Mountain. He noted the nearby University of Victoria and, in the distance, Washington State. And he now has a new tool to help him show off the surroundings.

At the summit, a directional marker details landmarks on the South Island and surrounding area, along with the distance to each location.

The large compass indicates 31 different sites, including the Olympic Mountains (57 kilometres southwest of the marker), Mount Baker (116 km northeast) and the northern tip of Vancouver Island (435 km northwest).

Size says he’ll appreciate the marker when he brings tourists to the top of the mountain.

“A lot of people come up here because it’s a good lookout point,” he said. “There’s a lot of things to see, so it’ll be a heck of a nice addition to what I normally show people.”

Patty Mack, former president of the Mount Tolmie Community Association, helped spearhead the project, along with Saanich Rotary Club’s Bill Bryant and Saanich park planner Becky Goodall.

“About three years ago, my husband and I were out for a walk and thought it would be a good idea for a directional marker that showed people what they were looking at,” Mack said. “It’s been a lot of work and a labour of love, but it’s really satisfying to have it done.”

It took more than two years from conception to installation, Mack said, adding that one of the biggest challenges was deciding what landmarks the marker should point out.

“Each time we thought we’d nailed it down, we’d realize we were missing some point of interest,” she said. “So we decided on some things you can see from up there, and some things you can’t see – like Seattle – so you know which direction you’re facing.”

The marker was made by Smith Bros. Foundry and Machine Work Ltd.

“Community means a lot to me, and this shows others that there’s always things you can do to improve your community,” Mack said. “I’m sure everyone who had a hand in this will always feel proud going up knowing they were part of this.”