Culture & Heritage

Sidney is located within the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ People who have been on the land since time immemorial and continue to have a vibrant presence today. W̱SÁNEĆ Nations include Tsartlip, Pauquachin, Tseycum, Tsawout, and Malahat.

The Town of Sidney is committed to working  toward strengthening relationships and dialogue with W̱SÁNEĆ Nations.

Those interested in learning more about W̱SÁNEĆ culture and ways to respectfully acknowledge and work alongside local Nations can find a range of resources available through the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council.

Aspects of Sidney’s heritage

The tabs below outline different aspects of Sidney’s heritage and programs that support community identity. Related information can be found on our Heritage Preservation page.


For thousands of years, the Saanich Peninsula, along with the Gulf and San Juan Islands, has been home to W̱SÁNEĆ people who built permanent winter homes in the area in the shape of cedar longhouses.

Bazan Bay, which lies near the southern border of Sidney and North Saanich long served as a gathering site for camas and urchins, and also a site for greeting visitors from neighbouring tribes. From this site, First Nations people launched their canoes to travel to the surrounding islands. Tsehum Habour at the northern end of Sidney was a historic village called W̱SI,I,KEM.

The W̱SÁNEĆ continue to have a vibrant presence on the Peninsula today, proudly speaking and preserving SENĆOŦEN, a dialect of Coast Salish languages.

Learn about W̱SÁNEĆ history and ongoing presence on the Saanich Peninsula through a summary provided by the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council in the Official Community Plan (page 15).

Sidney’s landscape changed significantly with colonial settlement. Following the British Government’s establishment of the colony of Vancouver Island in 1849, the Hudson’s Bay Company obtained two large tracts of land in 1852, which became known as North and South Saanich Districts.

Within a few months after the advent of the Fraser River gold rush excitement in April 1858, the majority of the North Saanich District was spoken for by gold miners, settlers, and speculators. Among them were William and Charles Reay, Donald Fraser, William Booth, and Octavius Ommaney, who purchased land which is now part of the Town of Sidney.

In 1891, fifty acres of land owned by the Brethour family was subdivided into lots and registered as the Township of Sidney. By the close of 1892, there was a general store, a post office, a boat building shop, and a hotel.

The name “Sidney” comes from nearby Sidney Island, which can be seen from the shores of the community. Sidney Island was named after Lieutenant Frederick William Sidney (later Captain) who was a member of the Hydrographic Service of the Royal Navy.

Transportation played a major role in the success of the Peninsula, with rail and sea links to Victoria and the Mainland, and more recently with Victoria International Airport established on the border of Sidney.

Sidney was incorporated as a village on September 30th, 1952 and has enjoyed steady growth. It’s current population is 12,300* residents (*2021 Census).

The Town of Sidney is honoured to hold “Sister Cities” relationships with three cities:

  • City of Cairns, Queensland, Australia (May 3, 1984)
  • City of Anacortes, Washington, USA (June 7, 1996)
  • City 0f Niimi, Japan (June 30, 2008)

In establishing these affiliations, each community has a greater opportunity to develop meaningful and long-term relationships and enjoying mutual benefits in tourism and economic development.

The Sidney Sister Cities Association  (SSCA) is a non-profit organization made up of community volunteers who work on behalf of the Town to promote peace through respect, understanding and cooperation. The goal of the SSCA is to foster international relationships, understanding and cooperation at the grass roots level, person to person and between organizations.

Original Coat-of-Arms

Sidney’s original Coat-of-Arms was designed in 1969 by Professor A. L. C. Atkinson It consists of a shield centered with the sloop H. M. S. Plumper, which Captain George Henry Richards commanded when surveying Sidney Island and Sidney Channel for the Royal Navy.

On the upper left and right of the shield were two arrowheads with clasped hands between them, symbolizing the friendship between First Nations and settlers. Above the shield was a flaming beacon, which formerly marked the rocks off Sidney and after which Beacon Avenue was named. Below the beacon is the motto “PHARUS EXCLARARET NOS” , which translates to “Let a beacon enlighten us“.


Updated Coat-of-Arms

Image of the Town of Sidney official crest

In 1996, based on a proposal from Sidney’s Environment Advisory Committee, the crest was updated to included bufflehead ducks and arbutus leaves to represent the natural environment of Sidney.

Shoal Harbour, particularly Roberts Bay, is important winter habitat for buffleheads. The southern BC coast, including Sidney, is one of the few areas where arbutus trees can be found.


Official Flag

Image of the Town of Sidney flag

In 1999, the Town adopted an official flag design with the Town’s Coat of Arms with two blue waves of the sea below.

Town Crier. Kenny Podmore

Sidney’s Town Crier is Kenny Podmore. The position is appointed by Mayor and Council to represent the Town as an ambassador at significant municipal and related functions, mainly as a means of welcoming agencies or dignitaries or promoting the Town.

You will often see the Town Crier Emceeing events, leading parades, opening new parks, facilities or businesses and welcoming visitors and dignitaries to our community.

Sidney’s first Official Town Crier was Bert Stevens who was appointed on June 24, 1991, during the 100th-anniversary celebrations of the founding of Sidney. Bert remained as Sidney’s Official Town Crier up until 2003 when he stepped into the role as Honourary Town Crier.

Bert Stevens eventually developed partial blindness, but continued to fulfil his duties with the assistance of his guide dog, Bing.

In 1998, Kenny Podmore was appointed Deputy Town Crier and worked alongside Bert Stevens. On December 1, 2003, Kenny was named Sidney’s Official Town Crier, a role which he maintains to this day.  Kenny is often joined by his Consort, Rhonda Todrick.


Mayor’s Community Builder Award

Established by Council policy in 2011, the purpose of the Mayor’s Community Builder Award is to honour and recognize an outstanding individual who has provided long-term initiative and leadership in the development of our community.

Criteria for selection includes but is not limited to:

  • Specific service, deeds and activities that have made the community a better place to live
  • Outstanding contributions in a particular field or endeavor
  • Selfless volunteerism.

Persons conferred with the honour of the Mayor’s Community Builder Award will have a commemorative plaque placed in the garden area surrounding the Beacon Park Pavilion.

Learn about Mayor’s Community Builder Award Recipients.