“We think it is urgent that some organised group be formed to protect the park from fire and vandalism, and to coordinate the use of John Dean Park.”

On May 10, 1984: 1) Edith Gardner; 2) Cy Hampson; 3) Josephine Doman; and 4) Des Crossley, met at: 5-6) Elisabeth and Edo Nyland’s home. They all had become increasingly concerned about the miss-use and the future of the park – they decided to create a “Friends.”

Their concerns were:

  • Garbage dumping along the entrance road
  • Fire hazards
  • Vandalism to facilities
  • Nighttime parties
  • Damage by motor bikes and horses
  • Regulation signs being removed
  • Eroding trails
  • No entrance sign or kiosk
  • Accumulated construction debris at the radar tower
  • Rumors of park transfer from the province to the region


Edo Nyland founded and lead the Friends for 18 years. His leadership, service and sustained interest has secured the future of John Dean Provincial Park. His involvement has now spanned 30 years:

     Leadership Era:  1984-2001  (18 years)

     Advisor Era:  2002-current  (12 years)



 Achieved by establishing the Friends – May 10, 1984

 What would have happened if Elisabeth & Edo didn’t retire to North Saanich?





Subjects – Tackled & Achieved





Coordinated the removal of old garbage throughout the park.





a)       Resisted the proposed sites within the park, became a Water Commission member and negotiated placement within a right-of-way; prevented the precedence of building within a Class A provincial park; and

b)      Resulted in the right-of-way stopped-closed (transacting 3.45 acres from Road to Class A park).





Monitored the aliment activity, reported concerns and saved 3 giant Douglas fir trees. 



Replaced infrastructure and established erosion controls. 



Surveyed and constructed the Barret Montfort, Woodward, Merrill Harrop and Slektain Trails, 1987-89; conducted finishing 1990-92. Known as the great John Dean Park Loop Experience. 




LAND ADDITION (70.35 acres)

a)      Coordinated a petition and achieved the addition of 66.9 acres (from Crown to Class A park) to John Dean Provincial Park’s west side; added August 10, 1989; and

b)      Protected 3.45 acres, by negotiating the stop-closure of Gazette 40, Thompson right-of-way within park (from Road to Class A park); protected May 24, 1994.




Advocated for and coordinated the install and operations.




Advocated for summit topping vice the planned full-cut.




Opposed and stopped the proposed transfer, from province to region. 



Initiated work parties, inspired invasive species removal. 


The great question is: What would John Dean Provincial Park be today, if Elisabeth & Edo didn’t retire to North Saanich? The answer is: the worst case senior of his 10 accomplishments… He’s truly set an example for us all, and I hope this article serves to inform the future of what’s needed to properly care for our parks and protected spaces – thank you Edo, you are the best!

If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt from Edo: there’s got to be a better way… Thank-you Edo, you are the best . . . 



1938 – 2007 

During the spring of 1971, Elisabeth and Edo Nyland built a beautiful 18×34’ log cabin, which looked southward over the length of Annie Lake, near Whitehorse, Yukon. The view included a vista of the mountains in British Columbia. Elisabeth said “living and experiencing the Yukon was the perfect pioneer life, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”

When Edo retired, they relocated to North Saanich on southern Vancouver Island. During the summer of 1983 they built a lovely home on Forest Park Drive, in Dean Park Estates. One of the first places they visited was John Dean Provincial Park, and it was love at first sight. They fully understood the importance of such a park – preserving a large pristine forest. They also noticed an all-pervading neglect, in the garbage along the main road and deterioration of the facilities. It was Elisabeth who suggested something needed to be done, and suggested creating a “Friends.”

In 1984, Elisabeth, Edo and several friends established the Friends of John Dean Park. Meetings were held at their residence; Elisabeth welcomed everyone, and during the meetings arrived with trays of tea, honey and slices of various home made breads. She was an excellent baker and made the most incredible European lunches. Elisabeth built up the top soil on their property, and created an amazing garden. Vegetables, honey, fruits and breads were in abundance – everyone was always invited for a meal or an afternoon tea and was sure to enjoy great conversations!

Every warm sunny evening of the year, Elisabeth and Edo enjoyed an afternoon tea on their front-door patio facing west; it’s like all their friends cycled through because somebody was always visiting, which made the Nyland’s home a very interesting place!

During 2004-05 Elisabeth followed a lifelong desire, she taught English in China! Teaching was something she always wanted to do internationally, and she described it as “the most rewarding time, and exciting experience.”

Born in Germany on February 23, 1938, Elisabeth passed away on October 7, 2007 (age 69), at the Jubilee Hospital, in Victoria. Since 1984 when they founded the Friends, I’ve considered her “The First Lady of Dean Park.” She encouraged and supported the early Friends and provided a balanced second thought for the issues. Elisabeth was a major Friend of John Dean Park, and a lovely personality who’ll be missed…

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