HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 3 — 1894 to 1906
The 1900 Victoria Directory for Victoria lists Lieut. Col. J. Peters, Commandant Military District No. 11, residing at Work Point Barracks.
WILL GARRISON ESQUIMALT
British Columbians to Assist Imperial Troops at Work Point Barracks
Word came from Ottawa yesterday that the men being raised in British Columbia for the regiment which is to temporarily garrison Halifax, thus relieving the First Battalion Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment for active service, will not go to the Atlantic Coast City but have been decided to assist the Imperial troops in garrisoning Esquimalt until further notice. This means that they will go into garrison at Work Point, but where they are to be accommodated is a mystery, as the barracks are already fully taxed. They are calling for sixty men from British Columbia, of which number 20 are to be taken from Victoria. Up to last night there had been seventeen applications form Victorians.
The first despatch received yesterday stated that the order had come from Imperial sources. The Colonist Ottawa correspondent says: “The Militia authorities decided that the British Columbia contingent for Halifax should not come east for service, but have been assigned to duty with the garrison at Esquimalt. The authorities assign no reason for the change and are not disposed to give any.”
BARRACKS FOR MILITIA
Marine Hospital to be Utilized — Colonel McKay Here
Lieut. Col. Joseph McKay, who is to be Captain of the B.C. Company of Militia raised as a part of the provincial battalion for Halifax, but who have been posted to garrison duty at Esquimalt, arrived last evening from Brockville, Ont. According to information received yesterday by Major Benson, D.O.C., from Ottawa, arrangements have been made between the militia and marine departments, whereby the marine hospital on the Indian reserve will be utilized as a barracks for the B.C. Company, and the men will be mobilized forthwith.
The hospital building is in every way suitable for the purpose to which it will be put, and will be ready for almost immediate occupation. The equipment is expected daily from Ottawa.
Under the new arrangement the militia department becomes responsible for all cases which usually be treated at the marine hospital. They will be sent to the Jubilee Hospital and the expense of treating them will be borne by the militia department.
One advantage of choosing the old marine hospital as quarters for the men is that it is handy to Esquimalt. This would not be the case had the Agricultural hall been selected.
April 29, 1900
New Barracks Buildings — It is likely that there will be considerable building operations at Work Point this summer, the Imperial authorities having, it is understood, completed the negotiations for securing additional land for the garrison. The total appropriation for made in last year’s estimates was 25,000 lbs, half of this amount being met by the Dominion authorities. New buildings are to be erected on the large tract of land above the barracks square, and the work of clearing the site is now in progress.
May 19, 1900
VICTORIA WAS TRANSFORMED
News of Mafeking’s Relief Produces a Spontaneous Outburst of Joy
The soldiers and sailors were also prompt to command especial recognition as factors of the celebration. The news of Mafeking’s deliverance had gone by phone and telegraph to the barracks of Work Point, the temporary home of the Canadians just over the harbor, and the headquarters of the navy at Esquimalt. General leave was promptly granted, and soon the city thronged with service folk.
June 5, 1900
5th Regiment to Attend Big Gun Drill at Fort Macaulay
Lt. Col. Gregory, commanding the Fifth Regiment, has issued the following Regimental Order:
It is notified for the information of all members of the regiment that the Royal Artillery will hold their annual company 6 practice at Fort Macaulay from the 11th to the 15th June, one ten minute series being fired each day, practices commencing at 10:00 am o’clock.
Referring to the above, any member of the regiment wishing to view the practice may attend within the fort in uniform; but is on no account to enter the Keep where the B.C.’s staff are located.
All companies will until further orders, at each company drill practice guard mounting, posting and relieving of sentries, etc. One guard and relieving guard will be detailed by the company sergeant-major, the officer commanding the company issuing the necessary orders in writing.
Each guard will consist of two non-commissioned officers and six gunners. Two sentries will be posted, who will be relieved every ten minutes. At the expiration of half an hour the new guard will be paraded and relieve the old guard.
Officers commanding companies will give special attention to the carrying out of the above order.
June 6, 1900
More Recruits — Three more recruits for “A” Company, R.G.A., stationed at Hospital Point, arrived from the mainland last evening. The strength of the company is to be increased to 100.
June 7, 1900
Defending Victoria — On Dominion Day and the day following the Canadian Coast forces will be mobilized here and military manoeuvres are to be held here, in which over one thousand men will take part. The forts are to be manned and the manoeuvres will take the form of a defence of the city. The corps taking part in the demonstration, which is to exemplify how the city and the station would be defended in the case of invasion, will include the Royal Engineers and submarine mining corps, the Royal Garrison Artillery, A Company, R.C.R., the Fifth Regiment C.A., and the Sixth Rifles of Vancouver. The artillery are to man the guns, the Engineers in their regular capacity and the Rifles as auxillaries. The expense of transporting the troops is borne by the department of militia and defence.
June 23, 1900
Tenders Invited for small pavilion to be erected on golf links — Macaulay plains. Plans and specifications may be seen on application to Lieut. Byrne, R.A., Work point Barracks, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tenders to be received not later than 1 p.m. Saturday, June 30th.
July 15, 1900
THE CANADIAN GARRISON
Something About the Soldiers Stationed at Hospital Point
Col. McKay in Command and His Assistant Lieut. Ackroyd
Among the most prominent of the landmarks upon the harbor is the old red brick block that for now over a quarter of a century has stood grim and lonely on Hospital point. Its past associations are none of the most pleasant, but time works many changes, and among those the point has had its share, happily for its good in every case. Originally the land upon the point was a portion of the Songhees Indian reserve and theoretically still remains such as for many years the Indian Department has received rent for it on behalf of its wards.
When first reclaimed from its aboriginal occupants a wooden building, which but a few years ago disappeared, was erected there for use as a provincial asylum. These unfortunates had hitherto been confined to the old “barracks” goal on Bastion Square, but the demand for more fitting quarters was suitably met and for nearly a score of years the asylum was located at the point, it being removed from there to New Westminster in 1875. From an old timer who a few weeks ago visited the institution at the Royal City it is learned that there is still confined within its sad walls an old man who in 1859 was committed as a lunatic to the “barracks” goal and has survived the many changes that have effected that institution.
That change coming so soon after the entry of the province into the Canadian federation permitted the point to be utilized in the keeping of one of the terms of union. In it the Dominion had undertaken to provide and maintain a marine hospital at this port, and about twenty seven years ago the old red brick building was erected for the purpose which it has so nobly server until this present year. Its history is practically without event. Sick sailors have been received, treated and discharged; ships have paid the hospital items and over it all Dr. J.C. Davie has watched and practiced indefatigably ever since. About Easter in the past spring the few patients were removed to the present temporary quarters on the Work estate and Victoria’s company of the standing army of Canada moved in.
A visit to the new post discloses a very comfortable establishment; although as yet its arrangements are far from completed. The old building was some what out of repair and though readily adapting itself to its new uses, it is even for the present force, which is but little over half of its established strength, somewhat small for the purpose. This is particularly noticeable at night time, when many of the privates have perforce to sleep under the tables of the mess room or in two or three tents which have been pitched on the lawn.
The wooden buildings to the south nearest the harbor mouth which had been erected for the accommodation of the resident surgeon, and afterwards allotted to the use of the caretaker, has been turned into officer’s quarters. A well kept flower garden is situated opposite the entrance, while over the latter a heavy ivy tops the door and slightly curtains the windows of the orderly room. This is on the ground floor, where Orderly Room Clerk Harris, whose appointment gives him corporals’ rank, is found in charge. Further down the hall are the quarters of Colonel McKay, while upstairs Lieutenant Ackroyd is quartered and the officer’s mess is situated.
Entering the main building — the familiar old red brick — from the south, the ends are found to furnish small but cozy rooms for the non coms, while the whole of the upper flat and half of that below is devoted to dormitory uses for the men. Temporary wooden cots take the place of the usual barrack iron ones, the foot folding up to permit of the regulation “make up.” Here by inspection time, the mattress, pillow, three blankets, coverlet and pair of sheets (the issue to each man) are rolled up and strapped. From pegs immediately over the head, hang the Oliver equipment, with its numerous buff straps and the side arms and Lee Metford of the occupant of the cot, while on a shelf much higher yet (instead of in the usual soldier’s box) is found the issue of clothing. This comprises three grey woolen shirts, three suits of underwear, three pairs of socks, one pair of braces, two pairs of boots, two pairs of trousers, two Glengarry caps and one field service cap. In addition to these a hold all is issued, containing service razors, brushes and sundry other articles.
The lower roll of the Oliver equipment holds the service great coat of grey frieze to match which the usual cape is issued. A water bottle in a buff leather case is also attached to the harness and furnishes the one weak point in the otherwise excellent equipment. About it complaints have already been recorded from the front in South Africa, among which a letter from Sergeant Moscrop tells of its shortcomings in the fight at Paadeberg. The bottle is of the heavy, thick “pop bottle” sort and contains but fluid enough for two drinks, which at the time that their coolness is most demanded are usually of a luke warm, if not tepid, sort. Even on the short field day of the Queen’s birthday celebration the redcoats across the harbor learned to share this grievance of their brothers in arms on the African veldt.
Leaving the dormitory, half of the ground floor, one enters the mess room, where the usual trestle tables and benches accommodate the soldier boys. Here the Canadian “Tommy Atkins” has rather the advantage over his Imperial comrade in arms. The latter has a ration issued of one pound of meat and one of bread per day, but in addition to this, at the point, a pound of potatoes, two ounces of cheese, one ounce of pot barley, one third of an ounce of tea, one quarter of an ounce of coffee and one half an ounce of salt and pepper is issued to each man. By joint contributions to a mess fund, the men supplement all these with milk, butter, vegetables and dried fruits, all together making a good “square.”
Upon this floor also a couple of bath rooms and various hot and cold water taps afford to the men conveniences that are not yet found in the quarters of the officers.
At the north end of the building small houses accommodate the company cook and his department, while the “dead” house, immediately under the quartermaster’s window, is being utilized for his stores.
Out in the corner of the garden the men have erected their own canteen, where many of their evenings are spent and where, in spite of the fact that liquors are dispensed at most reasonable cost, the strong habit of discipline prevents all unfortunate excess.
The duties of the company are those usually incident to barracks life. From reveille at 5:30 in the morning until tea at 4:30 at night the day is well but not oppressively filled. The drills takes up some four hours of the day and fatigues as yet are not oppressive. To these are, however, added the duty of furnishing a night guard at Macaulay Point, which is the responsibility of its trusts, and the association with the Imperial forces does much to impress the men with the discomforts as well as the spirit of the older established regulars. From tea time onward the soldiers not c.b., or on duty, own their own evening, but must be back in barracks by 10 p.m. unless under leave, which privilege is readily to be obtained.
As yet amusements have been somewhat limited. A good deal of shooting has been done at Clover Pont, and several boats and canoes are used by way of recreation. Until, however, the hay crop on a couple of fields behind the fort has been saved, the field room for sports is somewhat limited. Two fields, however, will soon be under lease to the department, when the Siwash farmer has saved his crop, and on one of these good ground for cricket and football is expected to be found.
Of pots, the barracks already has a fair share. “Colonel Peters” is a veteran pointer who has deserted his master in his love of the ranks, is a general favorite, as are also the officer’s dogs, “Venus,” a fine bull, and a deer hound of good points.
Son it is hoped to fill the establishment numbers, about 125, which will be full strength. At present there are nine non commissioned officers, C.D. Hollyer, a well known Victorian, being sergeant and having under him three sergeants, three corporals and two lance corporals. In addition to these Orderly Room Clerk Harris and Quartermaster Fraser, by reason of their appointments, also take rank as corporals.
The company has been recruited from all sections of the province, Kaslo, Nelson, Kamloops, Revelstoke, New Westminster, as well as Victoria, being well represented, while from Vancouver Corporal McPhee, who has charge of the canteen, and nearly forty others have hailed. These men were chiefly from the Connaught Rifles of that city and New Westminster, having thus been drilled for various periods. All trades and every profession appears to find its representatives in the company, the reason for their enlisting, and in some cases men have given up so much as $3 a day for the 50 cents of the widow’s son, being found in fact that the recruiting officers were enabled to hold out as an inducement the promise of the department that should further Canadian troops be offered for active service the Canadian regiment would have the preference. Thus it happens, too, that few of the men are raw recruits, neither have they all come from the school ground of the Canadian militia. Corporal Case, for instance, served his time in the Second Life Guards in England, while Private Shrewsbury, who was enlisted at Vancouver, is an ex Dragoon Guard. Private Hurford, who is also company barber, spent two years in active service in India and Burmuda, and was much surprised on coming down from Vancouver to meet at the post Lance Corporal Delahanty, who had been a comrade in arms with him in the “somewheres east of Suez.” Even Uncle Sam’s veterans have contributed their quota in the person of Private Atkinson, who holds special certificates for good services and courage in several sharp engagements in the Philipines, where he spent two years with the First California volunteers.
Lieut. Col. McKay, who is in command of the company, has the honor of having been the first Canadian to volunteer for service in China. His application to be allowed to go to the Far East to fight the Queen’s enemies there was soon followed by similar applications from the whole company which he commands. He is a popular Canadian officer and holds a second short course infantry certificate, and a first class cavalry and field officer’s certificate. He is 37 years of age, and, now that he has been appointed to the command of the company here, says he is a resident of Victoria. Before coming to his present command he was Colonel of the 42nd Regiment, of Perth, Ontario. He was drafted into that corps from the 41st Regiment, being promoted on his transfer from captain to colonel.
Second in command is Lieutenant H.C. Ackroyd, who for many years has been a well known figure in athletic and business circles on the mainland. Born in Staffordshire, England, he went to school at the famous old Uppingham public school, several of whose “boys” are today scattered throughout British Columbia. Coming to Vancouver about 1890, he entered the insurance and financial office of Messrs. Innes and Richards, of that city, where his diligence and business capacity soon led him to a junior partnership in the firm, which he still continues to hold. Immediately upon his arrival in Vancouver, Mr. Ackroyd went in strongly for sports, and as a runner still holds with Blight the record for the amateur mile of the province. Foe two seasons he also captained the Vancouver Rugby team.
Mr. Ackroyd’s military career is, of course, but yet a short one. Beginning it in England, where for about three years he served as a private in the First Volunteer Leicestershire regiment (infantry), he soon after the organization of the Vancouver battery he joined it, leaving after five years with a captain’s rank. In order of standing he ranks fourth out of the eight Lieutenants of his present corps.
BAYONET SQUAD R.C.A. and PHYSICAL DRILL SQUAD R.C.A. (I think they should reference R.C.R.
September 5, 1900
THE ATTACK ON ROD HILL
Some Useful Lessons Learnt During the Mobilization of Troops
“Esquimalt was taken, “was the alarming news that ran about town on Monday morning. A second thought with most of the citizens robbed it, however, all of its martial terrors, for them it was remembered that in mimic war an attack was to be made on a portion of its defences on Monday. Further details set forth also that it was not Esquimalt itself that had thus suffered, but only Rod Hill, the little fortress that guards the western side of the entrance to the harbor that had been captured by “A” Co., R.C.R.. Col. McKay had his company snug on the top of the big kopje back of the battery and fired a few volleys of plunging rifle fire into the fort.
The cleverly led force had demonstrated that a party of 45 men could get through, to all intents and purposes, unhindered and unlet, a screen of troops of several times their number, and inspect the very working of the Rod Hill guns before their presence was detected.
So much for the results of the field day. They constituted the finale of a day of mimic war in which the military forces of the coast, both regular and volunteer, were mobilized to defend Esquimalt from the occupation of a foe. In this the Fifth Regiment, (G.A.) of Victoria, the Connaught’s Own Rifles of Vancouver and New Westminster, together with the Imperial troops, 745 in all, assumed the defensive. The city, being supposed to have been taken by the enemy, all the bridges across the harbor and up the Gorge are blown up or strongly guarded and a screen of troops occupy the shore from the railway bridge to Macaulay plains.
This duty fell to the volunteer corps. At Macaulay plains the Fifth Regiment spent the day with the big guns. Companies Nos. 1 and 2 were given a tough job at the outset but they strained well on the drag ropes and shortly after 8 o’clock they had three guns dragged over from Work Point to the crest of the hill. They were soon in position, and from them some forty rounds were fired during the day. Nos. 3, 4 and 6 were also at the guns, having been sent to man the batteries at Macaulay Point itself. Major Hibben was told off to a different task, and spent the day at submarine mining.
Of the sixth, Connaught’s Own Rifles, two companies, “E” and “F,” under Lieuts. Boyd and Ackroyd respectively, were told off to assist in the defence of the works at Rod Hill. These were subsequently reinforced by the New Westminster companies “A” and “B,” under Lieut. Dockrill and Capt. Henderson, while of the Royal Garrison Artillery and the Royal Engineers, a force of nearly 250 officers and men had detailed to the fortress itself. The Rifles were detached for patrolling purposes and occupied the Goldstream and Metchosin roads, this side of Colwood, as well as covering the by paths and trails of the adjoining properties.
Most of the labor of the day fell to the R.C.R.’s. This little body had been sent down to Albert Head early in the day, by the little steamer Sadie. From there they had a five mile march feeling their way along the Metchosin road up to the junction of the Sooke road. Finding a patrol party near the bridge over the dry creek near Demers the half companies separated near the Colwood schoolhouse, Col. McKay turning off to the right and crossing under cover of the Hatley park woods to an almost direct route to Rod Hill. This course brought their several lines within sight of the cordon of patrols. However, they did the serpent’s trick and forged ahead. In the meantime, Mr. Clarke with his half company struck out northward behind the park until they reached the Goldstream road, down which they slowly followed, keeping in the woods on either side. The road well guarded, but the Canadian regulars picked up the patrols one by one.
Near the hotel a company of more of a second cordon of patrols was discovered. These were from Vancouver volunteers and a couple of volleys let them know that there were others. They stampeded, but rallying a little, began a more dignified retreat, which was accompanied by lots of firing. Clarke’s force had, however, wheeled about and began a semi circular movement down the ravine to the rock which they reached just five minutes after Col. Clarke. The whole company then advanced under the cover of rocks and brush up over the kopje, to its face, and began to pick off the unthinking gunners, with the results as afore given. Just after the bugle called Mr. Ackroyd’s company of Rifles came in on the double, but it was too late to save the swords of the gallant officers of Rod Hill. The R.C.R.’s then marched to barracks, thereby completing their dozen miles tramp.
After nightfall the Sadie made repeated efforts to run past Rod Hill into the harbor but the electric search lights caught her on every tack, and the night attack from the water side was frustrated.
At 11 o’clock Cols. Gregory and Worsnop took over their commands and the corps marched off the veldt, the Fifth to home and its comforts, and the Sixth to their blankets aboard the Yosemite, and the mobilization of 1900 became a matter to be but talked about.
Archives of Manitoba
Expropriation of 5.15 acres “more or less” by the Minister of Militia and Defence of the Dominion of Canada of lands and real property expanding Work Point barracks west to Smith street and south to Fern street, for the sum of $1200 plus interest to the date of the signed agreement, that being December 16, 1901. See that date following.
School to be Opened at Work Point Barracks Next Week
In connection with the school of artillery instruction to be opened at Work Point barracks next week, Lt. Col. Gregory, commanding the Fifth Regiment, has issued the following order:
“It is notified for the information of all concerned that a school of artillery instruction for officers, N.C.O.’s and gunners will be held at Work Point Barracks, commencing on Wednesday, the 3rd October, at 2:30 p.m. The class will meet on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and an evening of each week, until the course is completed.”
“The class will be limited to 20, and members of the class completing the course and passing the examinations will be granted a certificate and a bonus of $30. Car fare will be allowed to and from the barracks.”
“Any member of the Fifth Regiment desiring to take the course will forward his name to the acting adjutant, Capt. Foulkes, at once.”
The Police Court — In the Police Court yesterday, J.B. Green and H.B. Conrod, two members of the Fifth Regiment, were charged with an infraction of the Militia Act, having absented themselves from attendance in camp during the mobilization manoeuvres on Labour Day. Green was convicted and fined $5 or five days imprisonment. Conrod is a member of the R.C.R., stationed at Hospital Point, and claims exemption from duty with the Fifth Regiment, inasmuch as he served with his battalion during the manoeuvres. His case was remanded until Tuesday. A common drunk was fined $2.50 or five days imprisonment.
Matters of Interest to Militiamen — Saturday Evening Band Concert
A regimental order issued by Lieut. Col. Gregory, commanding the Fifth Regiment, contains the following information:
Lieut. Pooley having reported for duty, assumes the duties of Adjutant.
Major Wynne, the officer commanding the R.G.A. at Esquimalt, will deliver a lecture on “Artillery Practices,” on Friday, the 12th inst, at 9 p.m., in the gunner’s room. All ranks will attend. Dress - Drill order, without sidearms.
Officers commanding companies who are entitled to issues of belts, kit bags, etc, on account of equipment taken to the Transvaal, will furnish the quartermaster with a memo of the missing numbers, when the same will be replaced.
The Saturday evening band concerts at the drill hall will be resumed commencing Saturday, the 13th instant.