HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 2 — 1887 to 1893
ToDay's Solemn Observances
The orders which were sent by cable, from the Admiralty Office, to the senior naval officer, at Esquimalt, concerning the ceremonies to be observed, today, in connection with the burial of Prince Albert Victor, were forwarded also to the officer commanding "C" Battery. They are as follows: Starting at 3:36, this afternoon, the warships of in harbour, and the saluting guns of the battery, will fire minute guns until 4:36. Immediately after the firing of the last gun, the retreat is to be sounded by the bugles, and the Union Jack lowered. All officers, both naval and military, are to wear crape until the 26th, inst.
January 21, 1892
The Prince's Burial Day
Large numbers of people visited Esquimalt and "C" Battery barracks, yesterday afternoon, to witness the farewell salutes of sixty guns to the memory of Prince Albert Victor. H.M.S. Daphne fired from six of her five inch guns at starboard and port sides alternately. Before the last round, the ensign previously at half mast, was run up to the head and immediately hauled down again to the deck, the bugles ringing out the retreat. In every port in the world where a British warship rode at anchor the same ceremony was performed. At "C" Battery, the saluting battery fired minute guns, starting from 3:46, the time having been altered slightly to make the last shot the sundown gun. The ceremony was completed by hoisting the Union Jack to the top of the flagstaff, a position that it has not occupied since last Friday. The Government offices, law courts, city offices, and several private offices, were closed, out of respect to the memory of the dead Duke. No business was done at the police court, all cases being adjourned until this morning. The bells at Christ Church Cathedral, and other churches, tolled out their mournful message at 3:30, yesterday, and all over the city there was an evident feeling of grief at the death of the young prince.
"Gatling Gun" Howard
Among the arrivals at the Dalles yesterday was Captain Howard, of Gatling Gun fame, who had the distinguished honor of bringing his guns to bear upon the insurgents during the Northwest Rebellion, and materially contributing to the comparatively early success of the Canadian Volunteers. Captain Howard has had rather a lively career, having served during the war, and subsequently in several of the eastern states militia organizations. For some time he was in Canada at the head of the extensive powder and explosive works at Brownsburg, near Montreal. Some time since he severed his connection with that concern, and is now on his way to Mexico, on business, for an extensive house, in which he is at present concerned.
Likely To Establish Himself On This Coast
Captain A.L. (better known as Gatling Gun) Howard, who arrived by the Islander on Tuesday night, is in British Columbia with a view to the early establishment of a factory for the manufacture of explosives in this province, either at Vancouver Island or the mainland. He has been much impressed of late with the importance of this mining country as a field for the sale of those grades of his products which are, in these great days of peace, in much greater demand than Gatling Guns and cartridges. He was here some twenty odd years ago, and has numerous acquaintances, with some of whom he has had business relations and others with whom he served shoulder to shoulder in the times of Batoche and Fish Creek. He leaves on Saturday for San Francisco, en route for the land of the Montezumas, where he has orders to fill for blasting powders and with the hope of negotiating sales of ammunition to the Government, by which that article is constantly in demand. There are those who, through Captain Howard distinctly and positively denies the story, allege that he may, in the event of further unpleasant complications, find his way to Chile — Gatling Gun and all. While at the Dallas yesterday, Mr. James (formerly corporal) Wishart, of the Toronto Grenadiers, who had been detailed to assist him in connection with the Northwest rebellion, met Captain Howard, and the two then had a lively discussion over the fighting at Batoche, which both allege might have been captured long before it was had General Middleton only taken the advice of those who had some experience in fighting Indians. There was a very considerable amount of dissatisfaction on this account among both officers and men. The common feeling, they say, was that the General had no confidence in himself, and consequently had no confidence in his men. The conversation turned upon Bremner's furs, both gentlemen saving that all that was known regarding them was not elicited.
January 28, 1892
LIFE AT BATTERY "C"
A Glimpse Into The Daily Work of Our Artillery Defenders
Out at Work Point, where the Union jack floats proudly from its tall flagstaff, and which commands a magnificent view of Victoria, the straits, and the Olympian ranges, are the handsome barrack buildings that house Battery "C". The location besides having the charm of a romantic and beautiful situation, is a point of great strategic importance, inasmuch as its guns sweep not only the entrance to the harbor of Victoria, but keep guard over the Esquimalt Heads as well, their glistening steel muzzles standing ever ready and watching over the sea. That their work may never go farther than the peaceful event of …is the wish and desire of even their guards themselves.
Routine life in military barracks, however monotonous and uneventful it may seem to the soldiers, always has some peculiar charm and fascination for a civilian. The imposing figure of a neatly clad, smart looking sentry at the gate, the bits of color, grouped at every few yards, when two or three men are standing together, the easy, graceful stride of everybody one meets pacing up and down the walks, all being novelties, and a peep into a different world to his own, are, to a visitor, a most pleasant change. They so impressed a representative of the Colonist, who visited "C" Battery yesterday afternoon.
In November, 1887, Victorians were pleased and gratified to hear that they were soon to have a body of Canadian Artillery stationed among them, and towards the end of that month there arrived in the city one hundred non commissioned officers and men with five officers, the latter being Colonel Holmes, Major Peters, Captain Benson, Captain Ogilvie and Captain White, Surgeon Duncan being attached on their arrival. The force was stationed for three years and a half at in the building at Beacon Hill. During that time, owing to casualties, desertions and a large number of men leaving when their three years term of service expired, the number fell off to fifty, and when the battery went into camp at Work Point, it was seen that it would need to be augmented from some source or other before long. Towards the end of 1890 the erection of new barracks was started at the encampment, and the work was quickly pushed to completion. Last September, it will be remembered, Col Prior brought out 52 men from "A" and "B" Batteries to join the local detachment, and these placed it once more at full strength. Besides the ordinary roll, there are now eight attached men.
The officer's quarters, at the new home of the battery, consist of eight modern two story residences built in one continuous terrace, and facing out over the straits. They are in every way built and furnished in such a way as to leave nothing to be desired. The residences are commodious, well built and answer all requirements.
With the men's quarters things are slightly different. They comprise three long one story buildings all exactly alike, with heavy stone foundations and cellars underneath. Each contains two hammock rooms and one sergeant's room. There is, according to both officers and men, no necessity for the cellars underneath, which were built from plans furnished from Ottawa, where it was no doubt thought that furnaces would be needed underground. In this climate it is held that this is not the case, and probably the expense of their construction might have been avoided had the plans been submitted to the Commandant of the Battery. At present there is not near enough room for the men, and some new quarters will shortly have to be added. The buildings, though defective in many ways, are built in an excellent manner, and made as strong as possible. Each room is kept scrupulously clean and neat, and the utmost pains are taken to ensure freedom from dirt and disorder.
Life at the Point is, of course, carried out with the greatest precision, Reveille sounds through the barracks at 6:30 in the morning, and from then till eight the men are comparatively at liberty. At 8 o'clock breakfast id ready, and at nine there is the general officer's parade for the day. The drill and fatigue squads are then told off for the morning. Ever since the corps have been established in their new barracks there has been a great deal of fatigue duty, because, although the government have supplied all the material, the work of cleansing, grading and draining in what was little better than a primitive forest has all been done by the men. They have also made all roads to barracks, and have done a great deal of work in rooting up stumps and dragging large trees from the land.
Dinner is served at 1 o'clock, and for two hours before that time the Commandant holds "receptions", when luckless offenders against discipline are punished and censured. From 1 till 2 there is a liberty hour, and at 2 o'clock the parade is sounded, the whole force being drilled until 4. At 2 o'clock the guard, consisting of a non commissioned officer, three men and a trumpeter, parade also. From 4 till 5 the men are again free, and at 5 they get supper. At 10 o'clock the tattoo sounds, and all the men, except those out on pass, must be in their barrack rooms. All lights have to be out by 10:15, and the silence is only broken from that hour until next reveille by the steady and unceasing tramp of the sentries in front of the guardroom. The manner in which leave passes are granted is very simple, and gives almost unlimited freedom to the well behaved soldier. Any good conduct man can obtain leave, on application, when off duty.
In the guard house, though, it is also a well built structure, there is plenty to show, that it was not well planned. The provost cells and guardroom are not separated, but run into one, while the officer's room and prisoner's cells are not located in a suitable position.
The portion of the barracks devoted to the married men consists of a long row of houses, containing ten quarters, each having two rooms. These rooms are ten feet square. There are no back doors to the buildings and not an inch of yard space. Besides this, owing to there being no building set apart for either a library or a hospital, both of these institutions are crowded into the quarters.
At the top end of the barracks is a long racket court, 76 by 28 feet, which belongs to the canteen. A stage is now being built in it, and it is used generally as an amusement hall.
The government allows a sum of $20 per year for supplies of literature, and, as this sum is of course very inadequate, the men subscribe a small amount monthly. In addition to this, all fines for drunkenness go to the library fund, so that in one sense those addicted to the failing, may be said to be performing a laudable act, when they get "under the weather". There are now about two hundred and fifty volumes in the library, as well as a large number of periodicals.
The Battery have almost daily drill at Macauley's Point, with their 7 inch guns. The guns at Work Point are several 7 pounders, rifle muzzle loading, and one 61/2 pounder, R.M.L. also. These latter cannon are used for saluting purposes. At the back of the barracks buildings are two well equipped boat houses, no boats, however, being furnished by the Government, although a good deal of what is really government work is done on the water.
The great source of dissatisfaction that exists among all residents of the barracks, is the disgraceful state of the parade ground. All practice in barracks is precluded because of its condition. The place is badly drained and its whole extent is saturated with moisture. It needs to be thoroughly graded and graveled before it can be made fit for use. The inconvenience, when it is remembered that drill is going on at all hours of the day, can well be imagined.
The additions to the present buildings that are most urgently needed are a hospital, reading room and library, married n. c. officer's quarters, sergeant's mess room, officer's and quartermaster's storerooms, and stabling.
Arrangements for protection from fire are well nigh perfect. There is a commodious hose house, and the men are turned out for the practice once every week. In addition to this, a fire picket, in charge of a non commissioned officer, is told off daily.
Nearly the whole time the Battery has been in Victoria it has been short of an officer, there being only two subalterns on the commandant's staff instead of three. This, of course, necessitates much harder work on the part of the officers. The men complain of their clothing, it being exactly the same as supplied in the east, without regard to local conditions at all, and also that their pay is the same here as it would be in the east, when the cost of everything is so materially different. However, notwithstanding this, all the rank and file are thoroughly contented with their life; they respect, and have a strong regard for their officers, who, in turn, treat them with the greatest consideration and kindness.
January 29, 1892
Brilliant Display at the Opening of the Provincial Legislature
The second session of the fifth Parliament of British Columbia was duly inaugurated at 3:30 o'clock, yesterday afternoon, by His Honor the Lieut. Governor in the presence of a distinguished assembly of representative British Columbians, who filled not only the floor of the house, but both sides and end galleries. Outside, a cheerless, misty rain descended gently, darkening the white helmets of the guard of honor from "C" Battery, and turning to mud the newly laid gravel on the drive.
The military, in full winter uniform, took their position on the lawn between the treasury building and the legislative hall, 53 rank and file, not including the fine band of 21 musicians, who made the opening of the House the occasion of their first appearance.
His honor arrived shortly after 3 o'clock, accompanied by his private secretary, Mr. Herbert Stanton, and attended by the following staff: Lieut. Col. Holmes, D.A.G.; Capt. Benson, R.C.A.; Capt. Palmer, R.C.A.; Capt. Wood, R.N.; Capt. Jones, District Staff; Lieut. Martin, R.N. and Lieut. Kingsnorth, R.N. After a brief call at the Treasury building, the Lieut. Governor passed the sainting soldiers, and the squad of provincial and city police on guard, at the main entrance to the house, and proceeded to the Throne, the band playing one bar of the National Anthem ... cont'd.
February 12, 1892
Adjutant General Powell has written to Col. Holmes, requesting him at once to forward to the Militia department a plan showing the precise site selected for the new powder magazine. The departmental architects are engaged on the plans of the building, and not knowing the nature of the land on which the structure will be erected, have asked for further information.
As a replacement Magazine for the Dominion Powder Magazine at Beacon Hill Park, this location in Work Point Barracks was proposed. It did not materialize and the West Bay Island Magazine was in turn built in 1893.
February 21, 1892
Everything in Good Order
Yesterday afternoon, Col. Holmes, of "C" Battery, and Lieut. Col. Prior, B.C.B.G.A., made an inspection of the arms and accoutrements of the Garrison Artillery at the drill shed, James Bay. There were present to receive the two commanding officers — Lieut. Sargion and Sergt. Major McConnan (No. 2), Capt. Quinlan and Sergt. Major Drysdale (No. 3), and Capt. Smallfield and Sergt. Major Hibben, of No. 4. Col. Holmes made a thorough inspection of everything, and on concluding, expressed his pleasure to find things in such a neat and orderly condition. No complaint was to be found with anything, with the exception of a shortage in a few overcoats that members of the battery have not yet returned. The report will be duly presented by Col. Holmes to the authorities at Ottawa.
March 1, 1892
Some twelve months ago, Major Peters, "C" Battery, tried a very interesting experiment — that of acclimatizing Chinese pheasants, He secured a couple of score of these beautiful birds, which reached him in excellent health. These he set at liberty on Prevost Island, and, for a time, the birds appeared to do well. Of late, however, they have developed a decidedly roaming disposition, and have almost deserted their island home. Some young birds have made their appearance, but, so far, the experiment cannot be pronounced a success. Capt. Musgrave introduced the birds on Salt Spring Island, and has met with better success.
April 2, 1892
THE ESQUIMALT FORTIFICATIONS
No Armament Ready in case of an Emergency
Esquimalt, the only Imperial naval station on the Pacific Coast, is at present virtually defenceless. Should the Imperial Government decide to fortify it, Esquimalt can readily be made as impregnable as St Lucia, the Gibraltar of the West Indies, and in the event of an agreement being made between the Dominion Government and the Home authorities as to the proportion of the cost of the proposed defences to be borne by each, work shall be commenced immediately on a strong fort, to be erected either at the meteorological station or on Brother's Island.
At Macaulay's Point and other available positions outside Victoria and Esquimalt harbours batteries will be erected, to be armed with heavy guns of the same type; but at present Victoria will have to rely upon the Pacific Squadron for protection from a foreign foe.
The only guns now in the navy yard are three five inch Armstrongs, breech loading, five 6 inch guns of the same type, and one 22 ton breech loader, by the same maker, all being held in reserve for ships of the Pacific Squadron. In addition to these are 6 — 40 pounders, two each to be mounted on the Empress of India and her sister ships in case of war at any time being declared and their services claimed by the Imperial Government as cruisers. There are also a few old muzzle loaders, whose services might have been of use at Sebastopol, but which would bark in vain against the sides of a modern ironclad.
None of these guns would be available for coast defence, as it would be highly imprudent to infringe on the reserve armament of the fleet. With the exception of the 22 ton gun which carrying a 317 pound shot, has an extreme range of about nine miles, with a piercing capacity at 2,000 yards through 8 to 10 inches of armour, they are not sufficiently powerful to repel an attack by a foreign fleet.
H.M.S. Champion may not reach Esquimalt till Monday or Tuesday next, as she is reported steaming up the coast under easy sail.
The City of Puebla passed the Warspite, the flagship of H.M. Pacific Squadron, yesterday, and the flagship will, it is expected, anchor in Esquimalt Harbour this morning.
Rowdyism in the City
One of the members of "C" Battery, named Wm Taylor, was arrested, yesterday evening and taken to the lockup, where a charge was entered against him of having wantonly and maliciously assaulted Mrs. Foote, wife of Dr. Foote. He had previously broken a pane of glass in a store on Yates street, and was indulging in general rowdyism, when the lady in question happened to pass. He is said to have used insulting language towards her and then struck Mrs. Foote with his clenched fist.
April 30, 1892
The Department of Public Works, Ottawa, issued a "Tender for Hospital at Artillery Barracks, Victoria, B.C., on April 21st.
"C" Battery R.C.A.
The commandant publishes with pleasure the following extract from the Militia Report for 1891:
The percentage for "C" Battery, R.C.A., both of desertions and courts martial, is not only the lowest in the regiment, but is also the lowest in any of the permanent corps.
This result reflects the greatest credit on all ranks, and the commandant hopes that no efforts will be spared to reduce the record even lower this year.
May 21, 1892
Information Not Ready As To Esquimalt's Fortifications
Ottawa, May 20. On the vote for "C" Battery, Sir Richard Cartwright expressed a hope that negotiations regarding the Esquimalt fortifications would be made known at a reasonably early date. To build fortifications so as to resist ironclads would involve very heavy expenditure, and Canada ought to know early what she has required to undertake.
May 23, 1892
The Military and Naval Salute
In accordance with custom, the Queen's Birthday will be ushered in with a Royal Salute from the navy and battery guns. This announcement is made in order that the thousands of visitors in the city may not fancy that a Russian fleet has swooped down on Canada. There is neither war nor rumor of war at present.
May 24, 1892
The New Drill Shed
The contract for the building of the new drill shed was signed, yesterday, by Messrs. Humber & Sons, the successful tender. Their figures were $33,916. Another local firm tendered at $33, 997, which was pretty close figuring. Some of the tenders ran up to $40,000. The old building will be torn down in the course of a few days, and work begun on the new structure.
June 15, 1892
WANTED: To buy a good family milch cow. Apply to Major Peters, "C" Battery.
July 7, 1892
"C" BATTERY SECTIONS
Another match between the Right and Left Sections of "C" Battery, R.C.A., took place at Macaulay's Point yesterday, the left section winning by four runs McNeill, the star bowler of "C" Battery, was in his usual form, and covered himself with glory by taking eight wickets. The left section was badly handicapped by the absence of Gunner Swinyard and Capt. Benson, their two best bowlers. The right section took their innings first, sending Capt. Ogilvie and Bombardier Shaw to bat, who put together 15 runs before Shaw's wicket fell. McNeill followed Shaw, but was disposed of by Ruthven who nearly bowled him out. Body was the next man in, and made 6 by careful play, before he was caught by Master Gunner Bridgeford. Gordon made 2 but was bowled by the Master Gunner Mitchell's innings was short, he unfortunately playing a ball on his wicket. Smith then took his place, but was caught by Bridgeford after making 1. Slade knocked up 5 but was then run out. Davies' batting promised well, but he was unluckily caught by Ruthven, after scoring 2. Larkin was next to bat, but was bowled by Bridgeford after making 1 run. D'Amour was last man in and carried his bat. Right section total - 52 runs. Highest scores for right section, Capt. Ogilvie - 23, Gunner Body - 6.
The left section then sent Major Peters and Gr Carnegie to face the bowling of Gr McNeill and Capt. Ogilvie. The first wicket to fall was Capt. Peters, who retired with a score of 19. Sergt. Proctor was next to bat, but, unfortunately, hit the wicket with his bat, after scoring 1. Master Gunner Bridgeford followed Proctor, and scored 6 before McNeill bowled him. Gr Smythe was short lived, McNeill taking his wicket also. Gr Bowman was caught by McNeill, after failing to score. Gr Hickey was another of McNeill's victims, being bowled out for 1. Gr Carnegie was caught squareleg by Br Shaw. Ruthven made 1 , Gr McCormick 3, Gr Burke 0 and J Peters 1, all being bowled by McNeill. Left section total - 56. Highest scores for left section , Gr Carnegie 23, Major Peters 19, and Master Gunner Bridgeford 6.
July 12, 1892
To Go Into Camp
In view of the spread of smallpox in the province, a proposal has been made that the soldiers at "C" Battery shall go into camp at some point outside the city, possibly at Goldstream, and it is understood the matter was being considered by the officers of the corps last evening, but no decision will be arrived at until today. If a suitable site can be had, and there should be no difficulty about it, the men would have a pleasant outing, which in any event would do them no harm.
August 24, 1892
ON BEHALF OF "C" BATTERY
To the Editor: Having noticed several items in the papers relating to the music supplied by the band of "C" Battery. R.C.A., at the James Bay Athletic Association entertainment on Saturday last, I beg to lay the true facts of the case before you in order that the injustice of the statements reflecting on the conduct of the band may be corrected.
The secretary of the club obtained the band for a three hour's engagement, which is already stipulated in what is known as a "third class engagement".
The general custom among musicians is four pieces an hour. In order to prove that the band did their duty I enclose the programme played on the occasion, consisting of 16 pieces, eight of which are selections. As to the National Anthem not being given the band master considered it out of place, as the entertainment was still in progress at the time the band left, fully half an hour beyond the time stipulated for.
The band master denies being asked to play "The Queen". It would be interesting to know how much music the James Bay Athletic Association consider proper to be contained in a three hour engagement.
J. Peters, Major
Victoria, B.C., August 23rd, 1892.
September 6, 1892
HON. MR. BOWELL HERE
The Minister of Militia Warmly Greeted By His Many Friends in Victoria
Visiting "C" Battery — An Inspection of The Corps — Very Satisfactory Results
Hon. Mackenzie Bowell, Minister of Militia, arrived from Vancouver on Sunday night and is registered at the Driard, where he will remain most of the week. He is accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Jamieson, of Belleville, his granddaughter, Miss Holton, and his grandson, Master Jamieson.
Mr. Bowell was warmly welcomed here by his many friends. He is no stranger to Victoria, having been out on the coast several times before, when he held the Customs portfolio. On Monday morning he accompanied Major General Herbert to C Battery Barracks, where an inspection was held, the result of which gives general satisfaction. Both the General and Mr. Bowell pronounce the corps to be in first class condition and the appearance of the barracks, stores, accoutrements, etc, all that could be desired. The men's quarters especially are comfortable, and only a few slight repairs and additions are needed. Among the latter is a hospital, for which provision has been made, and a storeroom, which will not cost very much, and which will probably be allowed.
The question of the location of a magazine for the storage of the explosives which are now in the park was taken up, and it has been decided to build the magazine on a small rocky island, just opposite the barracks. Hon. Mr. Bowell thinks that to be the most suitable place for it, most especially as access will be easy, and a small bridge can be built to the magazine without much difficulty and at small cost. Cont'd.
October 18, 1892
Talent in "C" Battery
A varied entertainment was given in the Racquet Court at the barracks by the rank and file, non commissioned officers and gunners of "C" Battery on Saturday evening, assisted by Messrs. Pover (H.M.S. Warspite) and Healy (R.M.L.I.). The show was pronounced by the audience an unqualified success. Shortage of space prevents a fuller report being given.
October 26, 1892
City Police Court
Justices of the Peace Dalby and Shakespeare presided at the morning levee held in the police court yesterday. The case of Oscar Bull, charged with receiving stolen goods, was remanded until Friday.
Wm. E. Losse, charged with refusing to attend Battery drill, was then heard. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. Capt. Quinlan, of Battery No. 3, testified that Losse had been absent from battery drill though aware of the time and place. For this he had been unable to give any satisfactory reason. A verdict of guilty, with a $1 fine and $2 costs, was rendered, with the alternative of one week's imprisonment. J. Walker pleaded guilty to a similar charge and was fined $1.
October 27, 1892
Lost or Found
Lost — A brown and white spaniel dog. Finder bringing same to "C" Battery barracks will be rewarded. Anyone keeping the dog after this notice will be prosecuted.
November 26, 1892
The hospital at "C" Battery is nearing completion, and will probably be handed over by the contractor next week. It is a spacious and comfortable building.
December 9, 1892
The Powder Magazine
The question of the removal of the powder magazine from its present dangerous position in Beacon Hill Park, has again been brought up by the letter from the Secretary of the Department of Militia and Defence, read at the council meeting on Wednesday evening. In this letter it was stated that the matter had been referred to the agent of the department here, who would act in the matter. Mr. F.C. Gamble of the Public Works department said yesterday, "It will be some time before we can get the explosives removed. When Col. Holmes returns we will go into the matter, but the new magazine has yet to be built before the old one will be abandoned. This will probably be done in a couple of months."
The Flagship vs The City
A match to take place on the Naval Range is on the lapis for tomorrow afternoon, the contending teams respectively representing H.M.S Warspite and the local volunteer corps. The match will be at 200, 500 and 600 yards, seven shots at each range, and the rifle, Martini-Henry.