Heal’s Rifle Range was once a seasonal lake and marsh. This beautiful valley was well known by local First Nations as a good place to find tule reeds, to weave mats and capes.
Portions of this valley, later known as Sections 126, 82 and 83, were purchased from the HBC in 1860 by Fred and Charlie Heal, sons of John Heal. They both farmed and leased the land. The Sisters of St. Ann also purchased some of the Heal property and grew vegetables there for St. Joseph’s Hospital.
In 1915 a proposal suggested that the land be developed as a military range for the Army, partly as a solution to serious unemployment in the region. The regions’ mayors and reeves wrote to their MP with urgent requests to create jobs for locals. The range began operation in 1916.
The reality of war was always present at Heal’s: many soldiers trained in weaponry there, and far too many did not return. On Sept 10, 1915, the Daily Colonist noted that “Mr. Samuel Cameron, foreman of Heal’s Range, has received a ‘Missing in Action’ report for his son Kenneth, member of 50th Gordon Highlanders, 16th Division, 1st Contingent”.
Heal’s Range remained an active military range throughout the years, seeing militia and cadet use after the war, and was used for grenade training in WWII. By the 1960’s, local gun clubs also used the range for weekend events and tournaments. The range was also used for events during the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Presently owned by DND, the range is often in use today.
*This post was provided by Saanich Archives,
To learn more about Heal’s Rifle Range, visit Saanich Archives to view these resources:
Saanich Archives files.
Heal’s Rifle Range.
Clerk’s Files — Heal.
Green, Valerie. Fall 2006 Broadmead Community Association.