W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary

(wh-my-eh-then: Place of the Deer)

(Formerly Mary Lake)

History of the Land

Yellow Wolf drummers and singers doing a Dedication Ceremony for past Stewards of the Earth in 2011 at W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary 

Territories of the WSÁNEC Peoples

The sanctuary lies within the territories of the WSÁNEC (wh-say-nich) Coast Salish Peoples.

​We recognize the integral role the ancestors of the WSÁNEC Coast Salish Peoples have played as past stewards of the Highlands lands.

The teachings of the WSÁNEC (wh-say-nich) peoples speak of the land, the water and the people as equal members of a complex system, an integrated entity connected through cultural traditions

​“We need to protect our land.​That is what the Ancestors said. We need to keep the land clean, our streams clean. We need to be giving back to our land.”
~ John Elliot Sr. Tsartlip Elder

This territory was used by the Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum, Esquimalt and Whyomilth (Songhees) peoples for hunting, gathering food & medicinal plants, relaxation and spiritual practices.

Tom Sampson

Respected elder Tom Sampson, from the T’Sartlip First Nation regarding  W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary :

“It is a place we could go to find everything that was needed to survive – food, medicine, a place of relaxation, a place of finding one’s own spirit or one’s own soul. It is sort of like a sacred walk. As a young man or woman you walk to find yourself to find your spirit……….”

“Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to be respected and protected for all time. You cannot own it. We have to share that moss and shade of tree with other parts of creation. The residents that are underneath that moss, it is amazing what you will find under there. You will find lizards you will find snakes you will everything there.”

“….all the medicines – lots around this area. There is a plant (licorice fern) you have to take the root and clean it and it is like an antibiotic if you have a toothache or sore throat you chew it and the saliva activates the medicine.”

Reflections of W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary – Coast Salish History

Protection and Conservation

Private ownership of the land began in 1887. ​The original house and gardens were in an area near Millstream Rd on the eastern side of the property

It was during the property’s ownership by Albert Reginald Manzer (a logger) from 1935 to 1947 that the first earthen dam was built to flood the hardhack swamp and create a lake which he named after his daughter Mary.

In 1947 the property was purchased by Gertrude Mabel Snider a Victoria artist and member of the The Island Arts and Crafts Society which later became the Victoria Sketch Club.

​Gertrude initiated the conservation of the north half of section 14 as a natural area. ​Miss Gertrude Snider a contemporary of Emily Carr served on the Island Arts and Crafts Society’s executive committee, and became a regular exhibitor at the annual exhibitions.

“Her entire life has been dedicated to the pursuit of art and while for years Victoria artists have bitterly bemoaned the noticeable absence of an art gallery, gentle little Miss Snider quietly went ahead and started one herself.”
Excerpt from 1949 Times Colonist Article

Peter & Hazel Brotherston

The property was purchased by Peter and Hazel Brotherston two avid conservationists in 1963. ​Peter Brotherston had the concrete dam constructed in 1964, completing the present configuration of easterly and westerly arms of the lake. They also installed the adjacent fish pond and fish ladder. They built a new 4,600 sq. ft. house on the edge of the lake and removed the original house.
The W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary Property was purchased from the estate of Peter and Hazel Brotherston on Dec. 23, 2016 by the W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary Society (formerly Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society).




Declaration of Partnership with T'Sartlip First Nation


In spring 2018 after Tom Sampson -TTASELEK,  W̱JOȽEȽP (T'Sartlip) Elder's many visits to the property since 2011, he suggested we approach T'Sartlip Nation Council to become a partner on the project to support seeking funding to help retire the mortgage.

In the fall 2018 we agreed upon a Declaration of Partnership with T'Sartlip First Nation as a foundation for the protection and restoration of the lake and adjacent lands for the future generations.

This provides the opportunity for mutual collaboration to protect, restore and acknowledge the land for it’s ecological, cultural, and spiritual values.

W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary

1772 Millstream Rd,
Victoria, BC V9B 6E4

[email protected]

W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary Society 1772 Millstream Rd.
Victoria, BC. V9B 6E4
Registered Charity BN: 11894 6953 RR0001

WSÁNEC Coast Salish

W̱MÍYEŦEN Nature Sanctuary lies within the traditional territories of the WSÁNEC (Saanich) Coast Salish Peoples.

​We recognize the integral role the ancestors of the WSÁNEC Coast Salish Peoples play as past stewards of the Highlands lands.

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