HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 3 — 1894 to 1906
January 13, 1899
The D.O.C. M.D. No. 11, has received notice from the Imperial authorities that his quarters in Work Point Barracks – Victoria, B.C., will be required in connection with a proposed increase of the Imperial Troops at Esquimalt.
The papers in this office concerning the transfer of these barracks to the Imperial authorities do not contain any reference to quarters being allotted to the D.O.C. in the barracks. If you have any papers bearing on this subject I should be glad to see them.
Jany 16, 1899. Returned to G.O.C., with case A 10329, re Officer’s Quarters.
17th January, 1899
The likelihood of the Imperial Authorities requiring the quarters now occupied by the D.O.C. at Victoria, B.C. make it necessary to consider the question of his lodging allowance, when he is turned out. I would recommend that an allowance of $500 per annum for lodging, fuel and light be approved, and would suggest this be now definitely fixed, as his removal may take place any time.
FRENCH FOR OFFICERS
General Hutton Prescribes New Qualifications for Aspirants to Staff Positions
Cold Weather Treatment for Lee Enfields — Drummed Out for Stealing Whiskey
Ottawa, Feb 17 — The militia general orders issued this afternoon contain the following:
The Major General commanding desires to remind officers and staff of the permanent or instructional corps and all others who aspire to high command in the future, or to positions of responsibility upon the general staff, that a considerable portion of the military forces of the Dominion consists of French Canadian regiments. It is the Major General’s opinion and sentiment that all officers who now hold or aspire to hold in the future responsible positions on the staff should be able to convey their instructions to French Canadian troops, in their own language. All officers of the staff, of the permanent corps and of the instructional staff, (including non commissioned officers) should more especially acquire a practical as well as theoretical knowledge of the French language, and the Major General suggests that all those who are unable to read or speak French with fair facility should take an early opportunity of making good in this defect.
The date for receiving subscriptions to the Gordon memorial fund has been extended to March 10.
Private Hernon of the Yukon field force will be drummed out of the force after serving a month’s imprisonment for stealing a barrel of whiskey.
The department orders that in severe weather every particle of oil should be removed from the lock action of the Lee Enfield rifle, as the congealing of the oil impairs the weapon.
March 3, 1899
To Light Esquimalt — The British Columbia Electric Railway company are extending their electric lighting system to Esquimalt. The Work Point Barracks, Naval Yard, Canteen and Naval hospital will be lighted by this means.
September 2, 1899
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS
Tenders for the erection of a dwelling house at Work Point will be received up to 5 o’clock p.m. Wednesday, 6th September. Lowest or any tender not necessarily accepted. Plans and specifications at office of:
The Victoria Directory lists Lieut. Col. J. Peters, District Officer Commanding, residing at Work Point Barracks.
Advance Guard Arrives — Lieut. V.L. Beer, Quartermaster Sergeant Norris, of the Army Service Corps, two non cons, and ten gunners of the Royal Artillery, arrived last night from Halifax. They were met at the wharf by Sergt. Tenant who accompanied them to the fort. The advance guard is made up of strapping athletic looking fellows, with all the soldierly smartness which comes with years of service. The remainder of the company is expected here on the 29th.
The Parting Guests — Doubtless every one who can spare the time will turn out to give the men of the R.M.A. a royal send off on the occasion of leaving this post. It would be a graceful act for the Fifth Regiment band to play the departing force out of barracks.
The D.O.C. on the Mainland — Col. Peters, D.O.C., was in Vancouver this week and took the opportunity of renewing acquaintanceship with the officers of the Yukon Force, who were temporarily staying there. Col. Peters is erecting a handsome residence near Work Point barracks.
Equipment to be Returned — A battalion order is issued today by Col. Gregory that all Martini Henri rifles, bayonets, white waist belts, frogs, ball bags and haversacks of the old equipment are to be returned to quartermaster’s stores immediately.
New Residence — Lieut. Col. Peters, D.O.C., is erecting a residence near the Work Point barracks.
This residence, privately named “Ashburn” at 423 Smith Street, was named with reference to James’ uncle, James White Peters, who had built a family house “Ashburn” near St. John, New Brunswick.
“War Absolutely Certain” — Mr. H. Hirschel-Cohen yesterday received a brief but significant telegram from Pietermaritzburg, Natal, dated Sept. 23. It simply said: “War absolutely certain.”
WORK POINT IMPROVEMENTS
Barrack Grounds to be Extended Two Blocks for Additional Accommodation.
Provision Being Made For the Greatly Increased Permanent Garrison
One Hundred and thirty four men of Company 19 of the Royal Artillery, who as previously announced left Halifax for Victoria on Saturday evening last, will arrive here on Friday. As many families of the men accompanying them there is some speculation as to where all will find accommodation. The barracks at Work Point are hardly large enough and considerable building will, it is believed, have to be done. Large appropriations have been made for the work and, it is expected, a start towards carrying out the proposed programme of operations will be immediately made.
Col. Collard, of Halifax, who, as has been stated, reached Victoria last Saturday and who is understood will oversee much of the work to be done, says that the barracks grounds will be extended two blocks to give room for more buildings, to be erected, but the number of these he does not state. The garrison will be eventually strengthened to the number of 320 men, the second detachment to arrive being brought from England.
Out at Work Point preparations are now being made to receive the men. The officer’s quarters and residences have been all freshly painted and being all of one color look very pretty. The grounds resemble nothing so much as a village laid out after the fashion of a Pullman. All residences have terraces in front generally ornamented with flowers and well kept grounds the place presents a most pleasing appearance.
Several of the men now on duty will be transferred to England.
September 29, 1899
BID FAREWELL TO VICTORIA
Officers and Men of the R.M.A. Left Last Evening for Home
Band and Members of the Fifth Regiment Give Them a Sendoff
Out at Work Point barracks only a guard remains in possession. The quaint little houses within the barracks enclosure have been all temporarily deserted. The detachment which for upwards of six years has been stationed there, together with their wives and families to the number of 104, embarked last evening en route to England. To the music of the Fifth Regiment band, the rank and file in all 60 men marched to the landing place of the steamer Islander at about 8 o’clock, and on the wharf bade hundreds of very warm friends farewell. The scene presented on the Islander during the evening was indeed a very interesting one. Among the men there were many expressions of regret over going away, some thinking that that this station is the very best they have ever served on. They take the trans - Atlantic liner Bavaria at Montreal, and go direct to their headquarters a few miles out of Portsmouth, the major number receiving thereafter a two or three months furlough.
Of the complete force only two are Canadians. George Lincoln, quite a young man, whose home is in Victoria, and Bomb. Bowes of London Ont.
The officers going away last evening were Major Trotter, Capt. Barnes, Capt. Poole and Dr. Bell, all of whom were very popular in Victoria.
Today the new garrison will arrive from Halifax. Yesterday afternoon Col. Prior and Col. Gregory, accompanied by other officers of the Fifth regiment, presented the officer’s mess of the R.M.A. with a silver loving cup as a slight memento of their stay in Victoria. The cup stands 14 inches high, exclusive of the base, is nine inches across and has three handles. Underneath the regimental badge of the R.M.A. is the following inscription:
“Presented to the Royal Marine Artillery by the district officer commanding and the officers of the Fifth Regiment Canadian Artillery, of Victoria, Vancouver and New Westminster, British Columbia, September, 1899.”
FOR BARRACKS OR BATTLE
Royal Marine Artillery Have Equal Chance of Fighting or Furlough
The Popular Corps March Out Amid Music and Cheers of Victorians
Last night Victorians witnessed the rather novel and intensely interesting function of a march out of the regular troops, when the detachment of the R.M.A., which has been stationed here for six years, embarked for home. While the event lacked the exciting features attending the sudden ordering out of a garrison for active service, there is sufficient probability of that contingency through recent developments in the Transvaal to excite more than ordinary interest in their departure. This thought seemed to be uppermost in the minds of both officers and men, for they had eagerly devoured the grave tidings from the seat of war printed in last night’s Times, and the crisis had aroused all the old fighting Saxon blood. Every man of them, though anxious for the long furlough to which they are entitled, is ready to take a hand in any game the war office may suggest in South Africa.
Nor is it unlikely that they will be sent thither. A detachment of exceptionally fine men as regards both drill and physique, and in the best of health and condition, thanks to the salubrious climate of Victoria, they are in the very best of form for drafting into active service, and they know it. One of them described last night the pleasure expressed by the Admiral when he reviewed them a week ago. “I never saw a man so pleased” he said. “He told us we were the fine a looking body of men he had reviewed in years, the only fault that he could find with us was that we were a trifle too fat.” The adipose tissue will quickly reduce under a South African sun, and otherwise the men are as “fit” as it is possible for them to be.
The onlooker last night must have been impressed with the high average of the soldiers as regards stature. Very few of them were under 5 feet 8 inches in height, while some of them crowded the six foot limit very closely.
Better still, the outgoing troops carry with them the reputation of being one of the best behaved bodies of troops ever stationed here. Composed of sober, intelligent men, they have made friends everywhere, and in society in which a soldier of the line does not often move. “Why, I’ve danced with over a hundred young ladies,” explained one as an illustration of some of the ties which he found hard to snap.
While Victorians cherish those sentiments regarding their departing guests the R.M.A. are warm admirers of this place. More than one of them stated last night that as soon as their term of service expired they would return and spend the remainder of their days in a city where they have made so many friends. Victoria, on account of its situation, its climate, its English air, and the fact it is an extra pay post, is rapidly becoming the pet station of the service.
It was 7;30 last night, when the detachment, sixty strong, swung out of the gates and marched up Head street to the Esquimalt road, where nine extra cars were in waiting to convey them to town. Prior to their departure, all was bustle within the barrack yard, as hacks and drays hurried out with the ladies and children of the garrison, and the household effects of the married men. The artillery men stood in two ranks in heavy marching order on the sward, their white helmets alone showing distinctly in the darkness. Finally all was ready, and with “Form Fours, right, quick march,” the men were off. As the head of the column swept past the corner of the barrack rooms, a stalwart engineer stepped out from the throng and lifting his helmet, called for “three cheers for our departing comrades of the R.M.A.” The latter were still marching at attention, and like true British soldiers, not an eyebrow moved.
Their commanding officer, Major Trotter, knew their sentiments, and his “You may cheer if you want to men,” was all they wanted. The compliment was returned with interest. The guard turned and standing at the present, paid their final compliment as the company passed for the time out of the familiar barrack’s gate.
Reaching Esquimalt road the men were quickly aboard the cars, and all along the line the hearty fellows were the recipients of many salutations from the residents along the road. At Rock Bay bridge they left the cars, and headed by the Fifth Regiment band, marched by way of Store, Johnson, Government and fort streets to the C.P.R. wharf. All along the route they were enthusiastically cheered by the citizens, who thronged the sidewalks. “Life on the Ocean Wave,” “Red, White and Blue,” “British Grenadiers,” roused the martial spirit of even the most stolid of the spectators. The tars from the fleet crowded the marching men, some of them executing fancy movements with their swagger sticks between the files of fours.
Reaching the wharf the men marched at once on board, cheering the band, the Major (Major Trotter) and Victoria as they did so. One sailor jumped on a packing case and toasted the “R.M.A. canteen,” and this, too, was honored with a will.
The men on board, the band formed a circle on the wharf and played “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Home, Sweet Home,” and that time honored marching out air, “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” finishing with the National Anthem. Then the crowd melted away and the men proceeded to make themselves comfortable aboard.
The party which left last night consisted of four officers – Major Trotter, Capt. Barnes, Capt. Poole and Dr. Bell; sixty men, ten or twelve soldier’s wives, on the married strength, and about twenty five children. Transportation had to be provided for 104 persons. They go directly to Montreal, where they take passage on the Bavarian for their headquarters, Eastney barracks, near Portsmouth.
Yesterday, Col. Sergt. Gibson was presented by a number of civilian friends with binocular glasses as a token of regard. The presentation took place in Dixi Ross’s store, and was suitably acknowledged by the popular non- com.
Only two of the departing force are Canadians — George Lincoln, of Victoria, and Bomb. Bones, of London Ont. Four of the R.M.A.were married on this station and all these have either served their time or bought out, and are settling in Victoria. Several more are posted temporarily to the Phaeton and will settle in Victoria as soon as they have completed their term of service. One of the men who went off last night indulged in mock apprehension over his destiny, “I have only two more years to serve,” he said, “and then I will get my pension. But I suppose they will send me down to the Cape and then they won’t need to pay me any pension.”
The relieving force of R.A. arrive by tonight’s Islander.
ROYAL ARTILLERY ARRIVES
Big Detachment of New Garrison for Work Point Reach Victoria
Having come by special train from Halifax to Vancouver, 140 men of company 19 of the Royal Artillery, in command of Major Myers and Capt. McBean, reached Victoria last evening. They were cheered as they landed, but received no more formal welcome at the wharf. Being tired after their long journey, they lost no time in taking up their new quarters at Work Point barracks. Pending the completion of the new buildings at Work Point accommodation for part of the large detachment had to be provided at Rod Hill, where about 40 of them proceeded last evening. Not more than a dozen of the new arrivals are married.
The detachment is accompanied by a band of 18 pieces in charge of Sergt. Callum.
On reaching Vancouver yesterday the Royal Artillery were escorted to the steamer Islander by the regimental band of that city, which also gave a musical farewell to the Royal Marine Artillery which had arrived from Victoria in the morning on its way home to England.
October 19, 1899
Soldiers of the Queen
The General Commanding Inspects The Fifth Regiment And Expresses Approval
Capt. Blanchard and Twenty Five Men to Go to The Transvaal
Yesterday was a busy day for General Hutton as well as for the citizen soldiery, whom in the evening he formally inspected. In the afternoon accompanied by Lt. Col. Peters, D.O.C., and Capt. Bell, his A.D.C., the general visited and inspected the fortifcations and barracks at Macaulay and Work Points, subsequently giving his attention to the Drill Hall and district stores.