HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 2 — 1887 to 1893
PLACE THE BLAME ON THE RIGHT SHOULDER
To the editor: "One seventeen years with his colors" in his note respecting the slight to the militia at the opening of the Legislature should know that the service regulations require that requisitions for guards of honor, or any other military service, have to be addressed to the Deputy Adjt. General of the district, and cannot indicate any particular corps. It is the duty of the Deputy Adjt. General to detail such corps as he thinks proper. In this military district the Deputy Adjt. General is, unfortunately for the volunteer militia, the commanding officer of "C" Battery, the paid branch of the militia. His interest is to build "C" Battery, and as an inefficient volunteer militia would be the strongest lever in his hands for this purpose, it is only human nature that he does not foster the latter force. The Deputy Adjt. General of the district should have no special command or force in which he has a special interest. To have ordered a guard of honor at the opening of the Legislature from the volunteer militia would have shown the weakness of "C" Battery, and that the volunteer militia are, after all, the force on which dependence must be placed. "One seventeen years with the colors" will easily understand why there was no guard of honor. - Justitia
January 22, 1891
WORK COMMENCES TODAY
The Remainder of the "C" Battery Buildings to be Proceeded With at Once
George McFarland, contractor, and his son, F.L. McFarland, both of Thorold Ontario, are guests at the Driard.
The former has obtained the contract for the construction of the officer's quarters, cook house, married men's quarters, guardroom and canteen at "C" Battery barracks, and he expects to put men at work today, clearing and otherwise preparing the way for practical building operations.
No time will be lost in pushing the work along, and the contractor promised that the new buildings will be ready for occupation this summer. They will be frame, convenient in arrangement, and corresponding in style to the presently erected. The terrible roads, which made a visit to the battery with a carriage almost impossibility, it is expected will be put in good repair before the close of the present season.
The April 1891 Canadian census shows officers and men of the battery registered in the Esquimalt sub district. The description of the residences in the census indicate sgt's and men in a three room one story building, a staff sgt, sgt major and officers in a two story, numerous rooms, building, likely Work Point Barracks three "huts" and the officer's quarters respectively. The exception was Major Peters and his family, registered in the Yates St ward in the City of Victoria, but believed to be in barracks on December 30th, as Mrs Peters was advertising for domestic help at that time.
British Columbia Directory:
The 1891 Victoria Directory reads "C" Battery Barracks — Macaulay's Point.
April 7th, Laying of the cornerstone of the new St. Saviour's church, at Victoria West.
May 19th, "Col. Prior will move for all reports of Col. Holmes to the Minister of Militia since January 1888, regarding the "C" Battery barracks, the Victoria Drill Hall, and the removal of the magazine from Beacon Hill."
August 27, Lieut. Col. Holmes returned to Victoria from Nanaimo, where he was taking preliminary steps towards the organization of a volunteer company of infantry.
The new buildings for "C" Battery are going up very quickly.
March 24, 1891
Lt. Col. Holmes Report as to the Condition of "C" Battery
Ottawa, March 23. Lt. Col. Holmes, in his annual report, states what became of the 94 men who landed in Victoria, three years ago, to constitute "C" Battery. Completed three years and discharged - 40; discharged by purchase - 13; discharged as unsuitable - 5; discharged invalided - 2; deaths - 2; deserted - 22; re-engaged - 10. He urges the following previous recommendations: (1) Non-commissioned officers and men to receive extra pay per diem after the first year's services, and the keeping back a part of the first year's money until the expiration of the service. (2) Sending out a draft annually to fill the vacancies. It is just as cheap to send twenty men each year as sixty men every third year. Guard duty and other work must be done whether the battery is full or not. Twenty men short the first year and forty the second, throws too much work on the remaining, rendering them justly dissatisfied. He adds that with dissatisfied men, proper discipline cannot be maintained.
April 5, 1891
The builders are hard at work at completing the barrack buildings at Macaulay's Point. The detachments to make up the strength of C Battery are expected to reach here next month.
May 3, 1891
Mr. Mellon, formerly staff sergeant of "C" Battery, will hereafter serve the Queen as an officer of the Provincial Police. He has the material in him for an A 1 policeman.
May 14, 1891
The Powder Magazine
Ald. Munn moved, seconded by Ald. Coughlan, that the Dominion government be again requested to remove the powder magazine at Beacon Hill park at once; and be notified that unless the magazine be forthwith removed, it will be taken down by the city without further notice.
Ald. Renouf said that there was a large quantity of powder in the magazine when he was in it last. He had been informed that there was no powder at the park now. It had been removed to Brother's Island.
Ald. Coughlan strongly supported the resolution. The time for action had arrived.
Ald. Munn remarked that the Dominion Government had admitted that the magazine should be removed and had only raised the question of expense. A private magazine would never have been allowed to jeopardize life and property as this one had.
Ald. Robertson enquired where it was proposed to take the magazine to.
Ald. Munn — Tear it down altogether.
The motion passed unanimously, the audience testifying approval.
May 16, 1891
Full of Powder
The magazine at Beacon Hill Park is not, as many have supposed, empty, now that the battery have folded their tents and departed to their new home over the harbour. On the contrary, it contains about 11,000 pounds of powder, mostly in kegs, enough to wreck the entire neighbourhood. The city council do not think it is safe to allow this danger to remain in the heart of the park during the Queen's birthday celebration, when immense crowds will frequent it. Col. Holmes has done all in his power to induce the minister of militia to order the removal of the source of danger, but has, up to the present, been like the council, unsuccessful. There was an excuse in years gone by for the existence of the powder house in the park; when the battery left the excuse was destroyed.
A tender was issued for "The construction of a Sidewalk along Head St, between the Esquimalt Road and "C" Battery", by the Lands and Works Dept., Victoria, B.C., on May 15th, 1891.
The statement of mortality, published by the Dominion Government, showing the number of deaths in the principal cities of Canada, gives the total number of deaths in Victoria for the month of March as 27, of whom 7 were females. The causes of death were, lung diseases, 7; phthisis, 4; cancer, 2; cerebo spinal affect on, 2; heart diseases, 2; enteritis, 2; whooping cough, old age, apoplexy, epilepsy, disease of the bladder, teething, and haemorrhage being responsible for 1 each, the cause of death not being given in 1 instance. Among the ratio per thousand were: Sherbrooke, 3.63; Quebec, 3.19; Hull, 2.50; Three Rivers, 2.21; Peterborough, 2.15; Montreal, 1.96; Ottawa, 1.93; St Hyacinth, 1.87; Kingston, 1.85; Fredericton, 1.78; Galt, 1.64; Halifax, 1.57; St John N.B., 1.53; Hamilton, 1.51; Toronto, 1.25; Victoria, 1.20.
May 22, 1891
Col. Prior interviewed Sir Adolphe Caron, today, relative to the removal of the powder magazine at Beacon Hill Park. The minister thinks if the citizens want the magazine removed, they should provide new buildings.
Deputy Minister of Militia and Defence
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Ottawa
Sir, I have the honor, by direction of the Minister of Militia and Defence, to request that you will be so good as to place the sum of $5,000.00 in the Supplementary Estimates for 1891 – 1892, for building a new Powder Magazine in Victoria, B.C.
I have the honor to be,
This was the initiating letter before follow up of much correspondence between Col. Holmes and Ottawa in regards to building of a new powder magazine in the Victoria area due to dissatisfaction with the existing one at Beacon Hill Park and the fact the Battery had relocated to Work Point Barracks. The end result was the building of a magazine on the small island off West Bay in 1893, with a 12 foot by 160 foot wooden walkway likely build by Geo McFarland who had constructed the Officer's Mess. Colonel Holmes first proposal was a location next to the Guardhouse in Work Point Barracks but was not acceptable by Ottawa. The Royal Engineers Recreation building was later built on that site, currently the concrete parking area next to the Guardhouse.
Police Record for May
The record of police arrests for the month of May, up to May 31, were as follows: Drunks, 41; in possession of intoxicants, 3; larceny, 3; desertion from "C" Battery, 3; vagrancy, 3; gambling, 2; insane, 2; carrying concealed weapons, 1; supplying intoxicants, 1; and rape, 1. Total, 58. There were two lodgings supplied to destitute persons.
June 7, 1891
A three plank sidewalk has been constructed to "C" Battery barracks.
To Invade Victoria
Captain Lovell of Tacoma Department, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic was in Victoria yesterday. He stated that he has completed arrangements to establish a Grand Army post here, which will have twenty live charter members.
Grand Commander Veazey of the order has authorized Capt. Lovell to formally establish the post here which he will do at an early date. This G.A. R. post will be the third in existence outside of the United States, the first was opposite Detroit in Canada and the second was in the Sandwich Islands. Mr. William R. Cadman has the local charge of making preparations for its installation.
Honors For a Victorian
Sergt. W.J.H. Holmes, son of Colonel Holmes, commandant of "C" Battery, has graduated with honors at the Royal Military College, Kingston. He ranks first in military engineering and first in civil engineering. He obtained special mention in practical geometry and engineering drawing, special mention in civil and military surveying and reconnaissance, and special mention in discipline and conduct. This is all the more creditable as Mr. Holmes was but 16 years of age when he entered Kingston, and the youngest in a class of twenty four. Not intending to engage in military service, he has devoted his attention as he otherwise would to the military subjects, or he might have obtained a higher place. As it is, he is first in the subjects of most importance to him. Mr. Holmes was a pupil of Rev. Mr. Jones before entering the Military College. He has proved himself a painstaking student, and has reflected credit on himself and his preceptors.
He went on to command the 48th Battalion CEF formed in Victoria in February 1915. They trained at Willows Camp, left Victoria June 25 and Canada July 1st bound for England. The unit was re-designated the 3rd Pioneer Battalion prior to departing for France in March 1916, and was disbanded in May 1917 after the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
July 24, 1891
"C" Battery to be Strengthened Without Delay
Ottawa — July 23. Mr Prior had a long conference with Adophe Caron today, relative to the strength of "C" Battery. He pointed out the inconvenience and hard work entailed upon the small strength of the establishment at Esquimalt. Sir Adophe Caron said sixty men would be sent from Kingston without delay.
August 7, 1891
The "C" Battery man who was sent to jail a few days ago, on a charge of lunacy, is reported to be out again.
September 17, 1891
Appropriations for New Public Buildings, "C" Battery Barracks Etc.
Victoria — New public buildings, $10,000; military buildings, guard room, gateways etc, $1790; military buildings, including Macaulay Point battery, $9,000; Post Office improvements Victoria $900; Dredging the outer harbour, Victoria, $30,000.
The Royal Navy Yard, Esquimalt, B.C., issued a Tender "to erect another brick Powder Magazine at Cole island, Esquimalt Harbour" on September 17th, 1891.
September 26, 1891
The time for receiving tenders for the new powder magazine in Esquimalt harbour expires today.
October 2, 1891
A formal commission was issued to Col. Prior, yesterday, to take command of the draft for "C" Battery. "A" Battery, of Kingston, contributes 29 men, and "B" Battery, 25 men. There are also two women and five children. The Kingston detachment joined the Quebec men this morning.
City Police Notes
James Brown was arrested yesterday evening by Officer Redgrave, charged with the larceny of a coat from Wm Teemer. The larceny took place from a saloon on Johnson Street. John McCarthy is in custody as a deserter from "C" Battery. He was arrested by Officer Smith.
October 7, 1891
Arrived this Morning
Lieut. Col. Prior, M.P., accompanied by 60 men from A and B batteries to complete the complement of "C" Battery, arrived from the east by the Yosemite, early this morning.
October 8, 1891
A Fine Body of Men
"C" Battery, with the addition to its ranks from the east, is now supplied with a full complement of men, and barrack life has lost its sameness and monotony. The men just arrived are the pick of batteries "A" and "B", and a credit to any army. As soon as things are a little settled, the re-organization of the battery band will be undertaken by Prof. Pferdner.
October 10, 1891
Settled Down to Work
The draft of men brought over, on Tuesday night, by Col. Prior, to strengthen the force of "C" Battery, have quickly fallen into their routine work, are now established in their new quarters. The commanding officer is highly pleased with their efficiency, and congratulates the battery on having been increased by such a fine body of men.
October 18, 1891
The first paper chase of the season took place yesterday afternoon, the meet being at "C" Battery barracks, the hares were Colonel Holmes and Captain Ogilvie. Starting from the barracks the route lay to Macaulay Point, then to Craigflower, and then by a circuitous route back home. The hares managed to get to the battery about a minute before the leading hound. The event was a success in every way, and it is probable that many more runs will be made before the year closes.
December 10, 1891
Ottawa — Dec. 9. The Militia Department received, today, Col. Holmes' report as to the new magazine at Macaulay Point.