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Sealion Medieval Market in Saanichton is a time warp to the Middle Ages, complete with sword fighting and minstrel shows

Market and annual “battle” between mainland and island baronies takes place May 27
The Sealion boasts a market as well as an actual battle between two armies in full medieval armour. (Image supplied)

By Jonathan Brenneman

The Sealion Medieval Market, an annual market set to take place this year in Saanich’s historic Heritage Acres, promises to be a lively event.

The planned activities include archery, musical performances from minstrels, and an actual battle between two armies in full medieval armour (more on that later).

Even the products on offer, sold by 30+ vendors in colourful tents—largely textiles, soaps, knives, and the like—will serve to set a mood that is in equal parts playful and deadly serious. This is because, while the annual festivities are meant to be, well, festive, the medieval re-enactors from the Barony of Lionsgate (Vancouver) and Seagirt (Victoria) do not muck about where their accuracy is concerned; this is reflected in the historical authenticity of everything from the clothes and armour worn, to the names people answer to, to even the canvas tents participants spend the weekend camping in.

It should be added, however, that the warriors on the battlefield will be using mock weapons (the swords are made from rattan, which is often used in wicker weaves), and all combatants are expected to return home in one piece! Spectators interested in taking a closer look at combat activities will need to sign a safety waiver and pay an additional fee.

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“We have tons of safety checks in place so that any serious injuries are very rare,” says Jen Peters a.k.a. Isabella da Firenze, Seneschal/local branch president of Seagirt. “It’s great exercise and we have people who have practiced and grown very skillful at it. What they’re doing will definitely not prevent them from going to work on Monday morning.”

The international organization responsible for providing the method behind this madness is the U.S.-based Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). With over 30,000 paying members worldwide, 20 regional kingdoms—both Lionsgate and Seagirt belong to one called An Tir—and events occurring in different kingdoms nearly every weekend, it turns out the medieval world is still alive and kicking if you know where to look.

“I’d say the attraction is in doing something different,” adds Peters. “Whether it’s armoured or rapier combat, archery, or the gentler arts like embroidery, storytelling, or weaving, or perhaps even the medieval sciences. For those with kids, it’s a great place to bring them for a few hours where they, too, can experience a little of our SCAdian magic.”

On Saturday, May 27, the place to experience this magic will be Heritage Acres (7321 Lochside Drive) in Saanichton from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $10 cash for adults, free for youth under 19 (must be accompanied by an adult).

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