Western Canada: Sidney by the Sea

Continued from Salt Spring Island

In late May 2008 on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, we took the Crofton ferry to Salt Spring Island, then the Swartz Bay ferry back across to Sidney by the Sea.

Sidney by the Sea is a pretty big town for Vancouver Island.  There are new apartment complexes going up all over, and the central shopping district has several blocks of businesses rather than just one or two.  Built around the sea, as advertised, the town actually sprawls far and wide along the highway, stretching from a small facsimile of a 1960’s Florida retirement village into a semi-rural community.

We’d come here to taste cider — the fermented kind, that is.

Sea Cider is carried by some of the best restaurants in the area, and we’d already tried the light, crisp Kings & Spies, and heavier, ale-like Rumrunners.  Her at Sea Cider we had fun visiting with the resident sheep (see above), looking out over the orchards with the tasting room staff, who’d come from all over the world to work in the Vancouver Island world of slow, local food and drink.  

We also loved the mild, slightly sweet Pippins – our hands-down favorite – and the local foods recap of their accompanying tasting plate.  Cheese from Moonstruck and Hilary’s, breads and crackers from down the road, roasted hazelnuts from a farm around the corner, yet again the beautiful red pepper jelly, bison sausage, more candied salmon (made by the local Haida tribe), and because we were very nice, cider-soaked apricots they had stashed in the back. 

Stuffed to the gills, we nonetheless wanted to check out a nearby Sidney hangout called The Roost.  Originally just a garden center — where you can find owner Dallas’ “Manly Plants” section — is now also a growing cafe/bakery where you can visit with chickens and sheep, and sit either outside at picnic tables, or in a school bus painted robin’s egg blue and turned into a comfy makeshift dining room.  

The bus seats have been removed and replaced with little tables and bistro chairs, and in back, some wicker benches and pillows.  You put the windows down by squeezing the little metal buttons and pulling down the half-pane — just like on a school bus.  There’s a big, disconcerting stuffed doll with overalls and a hat on in the driver’s seat, but after all…someone has to be in control of this ship.  

There are chickens all over the property, both real and figurative; Adam’s rooster shirt fit right in.  We helped ourselves to some Salt Spring Coffee, and people-watched for awhile.  Get on the bus, indeed.

Dallas and his wife are presently planning to expand The Roost to include a pizza oven and winery, serving both amidst the terraced patios of the garden center.  

Stay tuned, Sidney.


Related posts:

Up to the Aerie, Vancouver Island
Touring Farms and Wineries on Vancouver Island
Amuse Bistro on Vancouver Island
Salt Spring Island


  1. There is nothing better than fresh food from the farm. You made me hungry just reading about it. Candied salmon sounds intriguing.

  2. Southern Vancouver Island feels like one big snack!

    Candied salmon is the native nibble of choice because it can be preserved and eaten throughout the winter. The best way to eat it, apparently, is with a little red pepper jelly on each bite…and who are we to mess with tradition?

  3. I lived in Canada for almost 7 years this is the first I heard of Candied salmon but that tells you there is always something that you learn from other travelers every day..
    I agree with Deb you post made me hungry..

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