HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 1 — 1842 to 1886
The Hudson's Bay Company established a farm on San Juan Island to strengthen a British claim to the island.
November, 1853. The sailing ship "Thames City" left England for Victoria carrying Royal Engineers bound for duty in British Columbia.
Three "Crimea huts" were built by Governor Douglas upon request from the Royal Navy, as a temporary hospital to house sick and wounded from the war with Russia. They were situated on Duntze Head at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour, referred to as "Hospital Point" in an early illustration. Not to be confused with the "Hospital Point" where the Marine Hospital was located on Songhees lands in Victoria harbour.
After an election completed by July 22, 1856, the Island's first "House of Assembly" met within the palisades of Fort Victoria.
On July 29, 1856, Esquimalt became an official Royal Naval base, replacing Valparaiso.
The Crown Colony of British Columbia was created on August 2, 1858, with New Westminster the capital, and James Douglas its first governor.
In July, 60 officers and soldiers of the Royal Engineers arrived, followed by another detachment of 165 officers, soldiers, 37 women and 38 children in late 1858 and June 1859 to build infrastructure, along with 161 Royal Marine Light Infantrymen from China, a force to maintain order due to the gold rush fever. Other detachments followed. The units were called the Boundary Commission and the Columbia Detachment.
The Royal Engineers were disbanded in July of 1863, with 22 officers and soldiers, 8 women and 17 children, departing from New Westminster for England on November 16. There is much to be said about their valuable contribution to the development of British Columbia.