Prior Lake is a tiny paradise that has been used by naturists for as long as anyone can remember. A naturist, not to be confused with a naturalist, is a person who seeks to enjoy nature in a completely natural state – that is, without clothing. The lake’s natural beauty, small size, warm water, and ease of access make it a fantastic place to swim or sunbathe.
The philosophy of naturism includes being considerate to others, and on your first visit to Prior Lake you will find naturists to be friendly and respectful – to you and the natural environment around them. Prior Lake generally has a more laid-back, mature feel to it than its noisier neighbour. If you are hesitating on your visit to Prior Lake because you are not sure what to expect, take the plunge. You will be glad you did!
Creeks & Watershed
Prior Lake is part of the Craigflower Creek Watershed. Waters from Upper Thetis Lake and Lower Thetis Lake pass through Prior Lake, as do waters from Teanook Lake and McKenzie Lake. The main outflow of Prior Lake takes water on to Craigflower Creek, which eventually empties into Portage Inlet (the north end of the Gorge Waterway).
There have been three docks at Prior Lake through the years. The first one was small and known to sink below the waterline when it got crowded. The second, much larger dock was provided by the City of Victoria, but then subsequently removed when Thetis Lake Park was transferred to the Capital Regional District (CRD) in 1993.
The naturists who had been enjoying the dock for decades mobilized to raise funds towards the construction of a new dock, for which the CRD provided the remainder of financing and constructed in 1994.
Prior Lake was originally known as Little Thetis Lake and acquired its current name in 1934 after Lieutenant-Colonel The Honorable Edward Gawlor Prior, a man whose history is deeply interwoven with the development of Victoria.
Mr. Prior arrived on Vancouver Island in 1873 and was originally employed as a mining engineer. In 1878 he owned a hardware store in a building that still stands at the corner of Government and Johnson Streets in downtown Victoria. Mr. Prior later moved into politics, being elected to the provincial legislature in the late 1880s and 1890s, eventually serving as the premier of British Columbia from 1902–1903. Long known as a hard worker, Mr. Prior died in 1920 while serving as lieutenant governor.
For trail maps, access information, and much more, get your copy of the Lakes of Victoria, BC guidebook.