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Exploring the Edible Gardens
of the Sooke Harbor House

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Vancouver Island's Aeire Resort
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- by Pamela LaSalle

Sooke Harbor House - Vancouver Island

"So many places to go, so little time"--this cliche is never more true than when one is choosing a travel destination. Sometimes not planning a singular destination will serendipitously lead you to the "perfect" place, that is how we found the Sooke Harbour House. Driving west from Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island for about 45 minutes will bring you to the Sooke Harbour House. Cloistered beside Whiffen Spit, which extends way out into the mouth of Sooke Harbour and which helps to protect the inner basin, the Sooke Harbour House awaits the curious traveler. The owners, Sinclair and Frederique Philip have poured their heart and soul into developing, now one of Canada's most delightful and unique resorts.

Sooke Harbor House - Vancouver Island, BC - Eating Flowers

Inspired by their origins, Sinclair hails from the Canadian plains, and Frederique from Cannes, France, together they transformed a sparse white clapboard house built in 1928 and turned it into a retreat of comfort and serenity far from the maddening crowds. Infusing their passion for beauty and celebrating the natural stunning surroundings, the Sooke Harbour House is situated on a bluff with breathtaking views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. It is here that Sinclair began his odyssey to grow a garden unlike any other, with more than two acres of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers, many of them uncommon, to provide the guests at the Inn with meals that celebrate fresh, local and seasonal organic fare. Frederique's passion for beauty can be found in the unique coastal themed rooms she designed. Each of the 28 guest rooms feature some form of local antiques, collectables and original art and their private balconies are a perfect location to savor the fresh ocean air and catch glimpses of sea lions, otters, seals and eagles in their natural environment.

Sooke Harbor House - Vancouver Island, BC - Edible Gardens

Wandering through the gardens, one can begin to recognize a few of the 350 edible plants that are used in the kitchen's daily menu and which reflect traditional foods, uncommon berries and seasonal products. Products from local organic farmers, gardeners and fishermen complete the palette of fresh ingredients that are served to the guests. The smell of lavender and rosemary and flowers permeate the garden. In the summer, kiwi's, figs, and plums grow and the garden is ablaze with nasturtiums, verbena, passionflower, thyme and an abundance of bergamot and borage flowers. Who knew that one could eat tuberous begonias? This is one of the joys of discoveries that abound from exploring the gardens. Edward Tuson, the acclaimed chef at Harbor House keeps everything local, yet enjoys the constant variety of fresh salmon, black cod, Dungeness crab, West Coast mussels, lobster mushrooms, chanterelles, gooseneck barnacles and limpets, and fresh suckled meat raised by local farmers to create his signature dishes.

Sooke Harbor House - Vancouver Island, BC - Kitchen

Not to be overlooked is the wine cellar which houses the largest collection of British Columbian wines in the world. The Wine Spectator has for the last six years awarded the cellar with the rare Grand Award of having the world's 77 best wine lists. There is also an art gallery and the grounds itself where over 120 local artists are represented; a spa which features a unique seaweed body wrap and offers locally produced seaweed spa products.

Additionally interesting is the fact that the Sooke Harbour House has developed a unique system of water reclamation and recycling, along with a breathable grass parking lot. It has been awarded the "Four Green Leaf Audubon Hotel", the highest environmental rating in this system of any hotel in British Columbia to date. Sustainable environmental practices and organic lifestyle are a way of life at the Sooke Harbour House.

Sooke Harbor House - Vancouver Island, BC - Suite Interior

There is much to savor at Sooke Harbour House and Sinclair and Frederique Philip have made this resort an enticing and enjoyable experience for the wanderer who finds this retreat either by design or curiosity. For more information and directions to the Sooke Harbour House visit