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HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS

by Jack Bates

PART 1 — 1842 to 1886


1877

Daily Colonist
May 1, 1877

DEFENCELESS

In the event of Great Britain declaring war against Russia, we wish to again direct the attention of the authorities to the fact that the sea coast of this Province will be defenceless. The Russian war vessels now at San Francisco might batter down Victoria, shell the Dockyard and seize or destroy the great Collieries on the east coast of the island. Property of the value of many millions of dollars lies absolutely at the mercy of the invader. The local Government have time and time again drawn attention to our defenceless situation; we are not aware that any steps have been taken to materially increase the Naval forces on this station. It is said the Shah with the Admiral is expected in July; but one warship cannot watch and protect the long coast line of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The attention of the Imperial Government should be again directed to this remote but important quarter of Her Majesty’s possessions.

May 26, 1877

The Russian Fleet in the Pacific

The Pall Mall Gazette says: In addition to the three heavily armed steam corvettes, each manned by 200 or 250 men, there are three small but useful sloops, all together some thirty miles north of San Francisco. These Russian vessels have been in their present position for upwards of two months, and according to the officers, were awaiting the arrival of four more corvettes. It is added that the whole squadron is meant for an attack on Vancouver Island, as well as to prey on British shipping, in the event of an outbreak of war between England and Russia. Whether this is the case or not, it can scarcely be contended in this instance that the ships of war have been sent to San Francisco from the Amoor to protect Russian interests or to avoid the overwhelming strength of the Turkish fleet in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Our own force on this Pacific station is notoriously weak until the arrival of the Shah; and if Russia has all along counted upon England’s hostility sooner or later to her settled plan of attack in Europe or Asia, it is at least a convenient coincidence for her that probably is no other part of the world could so much damage be done to British commerce in a short time by a few smart vessels as in the Pacific Ocean. But then there have been a good many convenient coincidences with respect to Russian policy of late.

The B.C. Directories for 1877 / 78 show Lt. Col. C.F. Houghton, D.A.G., Dominion Militia, res Drill Shed, James Bay.


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