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The colourful flowers illuminate the greenspace at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC
Home > Learn from a Local > Learn from a Local - Briony Penn

Learn from a Local - Briony Penn

A few questions with… naturalist Briony Penn

Briony Penn is a naturalist, writer, broadcaster, illustrator and a fifth-generation Salt Spring Islander. She’s so passionate about protecting endangered species and sensitive ecosystems, Penn joined five women in a 2001 Lady Godiva-style protest on horseback in downtown Vancouver against logging on Salt Spring Island. She’s proud to say her granny painted in the same sketch club as Canadian artist Emily Carr, which also makes her an honourary Victoria citizen in our books.

Naturalist Briony Penn

Q: What’s your favourite thing about Victoria?

A: The Garry oak and camas meadows in the spring at Beacon Hill Park.

Q: What neighbourhood do you like to hang out in?

A: Fernwood and James Bay

Q: Let’s go for a walk. Where are you headed?

Knockan Hill Park or Christmas Hill/Swan Lake

Q: Where’s the best place for a great Victoria photo op?

A: Straddling the rocks where the two tectonic plates meet at Sahsima (Harling Point) and looking out to Trial Islands. 

Q: If Victoria had a theme song, what would it be?

A: Victoria musician, Chris Frye’s “Under the Garry Oak Meadow” which you can listen to here

Q: If Victoria had a walk of fame, whose star would you add?

A: Elsie Claxton, W̱SÁNEĆ elder, who shared her knowledge of her home so generously. 

Q: What’s your favourite place in Victoria to get away from it all?

A: I love going to BC Archives where no one can find me and in between diving deep into the records, I sit out in their native plant garden where you can have the whole place to yourself most days with the most beautiful plants from all over British Columbia.

Q: What’s your top Victoria restaurant?
Q: What’s your favourite Victoria craft brewery, distillery, coffee shop or winery to visit?

A: Swans of course. They started the whole trend in craft breweries and you couldn’t find nicer people than Paul and Mary. 

Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Victoria?

A: That we are really a community of clubs and societies that provide opportunities for visitors, too. Think of any society, from choirs, amateur theatres and sketch clubs to natural history societies and you can catch great lectures, concerts, plays field trips and experience authentic Victoria.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about Victoria?

A: That summer is the best time to visit. The most beautiful and vibrant time to visit the Salish Sea is in May when the wildflowers are blooming, the songbirds have arrived, the seabirds haven’t left yet, the whales and sea lions are around and the frogs are still singing in their swamps.