In early 1953, the Victoria Gyro Club, under the leadership of President Wilf McGregor, acquired 4.4 acres of land on the shore of Cadboro Bay from the estate of Mary Goward for the sum of $4,500. The Goward family had achieved financial success through their involvement in the B.C. Electric Railway Company. Perhaps not coincidentally, another of the Goward family members had been a member of the Victoria Gyro Club since 1941. The money for the purchase was raised through the Club’s hugely successful annual hole-in-one contests. In April 1954, the Club donated the land to The District of Saanich for the purpose of creating a “public park or pleasure ground for the use, recreation and enjoyment of the pubic, under the name Cadboro Bay Gyro Park.” The speed with which the entire transaction took place suggests that it was the Club’s intent from the get-go to donate the land for that purpose.
Between the time it was purchased and then transferred to Saanich, the land, much of it marsh, was filled with 65,000 cubic yards of hog fuel, using equipment, materials and labor donated by Club members. In August 1954, the seawall bordering the high tide mark was completed. Gyro members continued their contribution to the construction of the park. One member was the architect and another the building contractor who together constructed the two story bath house and caretaker’s residence.
Cadboro Bay was named after the British ship Cadboro which sailed into the bay in 1842, startling the local Songhees first nation people who lived nearby. Cadboro Bay is also the home of a legendary sea creature, named Cadorosaurus (nicknamed “Caddie), which has exposed itself to many reliable witnesses over the last one hundred and fifty years.
For the first three years, Cadboro Bay Gyro Park functioned under the stewardship of the Victoria Gyro Club, but by 1957 had grown to thirteen acres; too large and too active for the Club to manage effectively. It was then that Saanich took over operation of the park and constructed the much played upon assortment of giant sea creatures. The park has undergone several renewals since then and the Club has participated in many of the planning committees along the way.
Cadboro Bay Gyro Park turned sixty years old in 2014. A lot of feet have trampled its grass. Countless picnics have been had and literally thousands of children have enjoyed the beach and the land-locked sea creatures.