Book Review – Secret Lakes of Southern Vancouver Island

Secret Lakes of Southern Vancouver Island
Adam Ungstad
UNGSTAD Information Architects
150 pages

Secret Lakes of Southern Vancouver Island
Secret Lakes of Southern Vancouver Island: Adam Ungstad

Secret Lakes of Southern Vancouver Island is a nice little guide book to some of the well known and lesser known lakes in the Saanich Penisula and Sooke. If you’re planning a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, and are considering options for a morning viewing wildlife or an afternoon swimming, this book is full of places that are a little off the beaten track.

Adam Ungstad’s book describes twenty-five lakes around Victoria. The beginning of the book features an overall map with the locations of the lakes. A simple introduction to lake ecology follows. Ungstad also categorizes the lakes into a series of “Top Ten” lists, a useful feature if you’re looking for specific places for swimming, families, accessibility, nature, hiking, fishing, canoes and kayaks, dogs, bicycles, and mountain biking.

Each lake has a map, lists of basic facts, activities and facilities. Detailed directions to the lake (from downtown Victoria) are provided. A general description of the lake and its interesting features follows—trails, swimming areas, seasonal flowers and typical birds that can be seen. Black and white photographs of each lake give an idea of what it looks like.

Overall this book appears to be very useful and should be a good resource to explore lakes that are less well known. While reading the book, I couldn’t help thinking that it would make a really good eBook or mobile app. It would be great to see the images in colour and connect directly to a map feature with real time directions from any location. If you’re not starting from downtown Victoria, you’re going to have to do some navigating to find these lakes.

Secret Lakes has a few minor flaws, but these don’t detract from the overall usefulness of the book. The descriptions of the lakes don’t follow the order of the lakes listed on the map, which can be a little confusing. Naturalists interested in finding sites for botanizing might be disappointed by the lack of information about specific plant communities. In the same way, birders searching for target species will find the generic descriptions of “warblers, woodpeckers, wrens, etc.” less than helpful. In addition to swimming, Ungstad might have included a reference to a signature species as a reason to visit a certain lake.

Floating Dock
Floating dock at Swan Lake in Victoria, British Columbia – great for exploring!
 Two lakes in the book will likely remain secret. Heal Lake (#25) isn’t shown on the map and the description of the lake (while interesting) is short and lacks the detail of the other entries. No map or directions are provided. The other odd lake (#26?) is Quarantine Lake. Again, it gets an abbreviated entry but no directions or location on the main map.
Despite its minor flaws, Secret Lakes looks to be an excellent resource for exploring Victoria, British Columbia. We’re definitely going to check out some of these locations on our next trip “down island.”

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