HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 4 — 1907 to 1918
HOW LANDMARKS RECEIVED THEIR NAMES – MACAULAYS’ POINT
To the old time Victorians, those whose history goes back to the very early days the name of Macaulay’s Point calls up a host of memories connected with a rugged and eccentric, albeit a good hearted, old Shetlander, a Hudson’s Bay company employee who, occupied the piece of land now designated by his name.
In those days traveler’s who followed the trail out of Esquimalt crossed from the city near Macaulay’s place portaging canoes over the narrow strip. Macaulay found that such travelers left the gate of his place open and allowed his livestock to roam at large. Therefore, he set out a sign warning travelers to shut the gate and this sign was more or less of a wonder to all and sundry.
One day it is said, the admiral who was stationed at Esquimalt at the time gave a picnic at Sailor’s Bay. Macaulay volunteered his services and helped with the water and the general preparations. During the banquet the admiral, who was appreciative of the old man’s assistance, thinking to flatter him proposed his health in glowing terms.
Macaulay drank down the glass of wine that was set before him after his health had been drunk all around, and then calling for a fresh glass, he arose very solemnly, but with a twinkle in his eye. He held his glass aloft and nodded toward the admiral.
“Sir,” he said, “I drink your health. You are the very finest admiral I have ever seen.” Here, while the officer blushed with pleasure, for he was a vain man, Macaulay drained the bumper to the dregs and added, as he wiped his lips and turned away: “In fact, for the matter of that, sir, you are the very admiral I ever did see.”
Macaulay claimed to have skill in treating sick horses. One day a traveler out of Victoria found his horse failing under him. As he drew near Macaulay’s the animal sank down completely exhausted. Macaulay came along the trail at this juncture and proposed that the traveler leave the horse with him for a space. This was agreed to and a few days later the traveler returned and found his quadruped in good shape.
“What did you do to help him?” he asked the old Shetlander.
“Well now, it was easy enough, I just roasted an old boot by the fire and tied it over his nose for a bit. That fixed him. Nothing like a roasted boot for a sick horse.”
One day one of the marine officers at the fort, a large red faced, puffy man who liked a good meal above all things was riding posthaste back to town where a very fine dinner was to be served in honor of some event or other. The officer wished to take a short cut and, meeting Macaulay, he asked him what trail was best to take.
“Any of the trails lead straight to the fort,” replied Macaulay promptly.
The officer selected a trail and bumped away. Three hours later he came back, hot and mad as a hornet, to give Macaulay blue brimstone.
“Well,” said Macaulay, coolly, “I told ye the truth, but ye got twisted around and ye did not remember that the same trails lead straight away from the fort as well.”
The fat officer who had missed dinner and ridden for hours to no end, probably made some suitable reply, but whatever he said has not been recorded.
Old Macaulay was drowned years ago when a powder barge sank in the harbor while he was aboard tending it.
January 25, 1910
OBSOLETE FIELD GUNS DISCUSSED
Questions in Parliament Regarding Ancient Ordnance Sent to
That ancient battery of twelve pounder field guns shipped some months ago to the Work Point Barracks for the use of the Fifth regiment, C.G.A., a battery fit more for a junk heap than service, is still the subject of discussion following questions by G.H. Barnard, M.P. for Victoria in the House of Commons at Ottawa. When the obsolete 12 pounders, which were part of the equipment of the 5th Regiment were withdrawn a few years ago, it was stated that a modern battery of field pieces would be sent to Victoria for moveable armament for the local defence. The “modern” battery sent however consisted of twelve pounders long since worn out, with their rifling practically gone, with breech blocks hanging loose from the hinges. Many more years ago than most men remember these guns had been used and in their old age were finally worn out in the South African war. As ornaments for a city park they would have been acceptable, but when intended for use as part of the armament for land defences such as Esquimalt it was expected to have under the plans of the Imperial government the twelve pounders sent by the military department to Work Point were worse than useless, worse because they would endanger the lives of any gunners ordered to discharge them. Since their arrival many months ago they have been stored untouched at Work Point.
Mr. Barnard’s questions were:
The last question must have under a misapprehension based upon the statement made some time ago that it was suggested that a company of the 5th regiment be formed to take over the duties of a field battery being supplied with horses to train as horse artillery.
Sir Frederick Borden, Minister of Militia said: “Instead of answering the questions categorically I beg to read a statement on the subject prepared for me by major-General Sir Percy lake, chief military advisor of the government and Inspector General:
“In every fortress guns of various nature and power are permanently mounted in the batteries designed to protect the place, from guns of the largest caliber down to 12 pr and 6 pr quick firing guns, and even machine guns. These are called its “fixed armament” and are mainly for use against ships and smaller vessels. Again, a certain number of guns are allotted to every fortress, as what is called “moveable armament,” ie. mobile light guns capable of being moved about from place to place to meet attack in localities upon which the fixed armament of the fortress could not be brought to bear. The guns to which, it is presumed, the questions refer belong to this latter description of armament.”
“When Esquimalt was taken over from the British government, the “moveable armament” which had been allotted to it was found to be one battery (6 guns) or 13 pr muzzle loading guns. In other words, 13 pr M.L. guns were included in its armament for use in repelling either a landing attack made outside the range of the fixed guns, or an attack from the land side of the fortress, upon which the guns of the “fixed” armament could not be brought to bear. For a few years after the departure of the British troops, these 13 pr guns were retained as part of the moveable armament of the fortress but, in view of the difficulties experienced in maintaining their ammunition (which was rapidly becoming obsolete) in an efficient condition, and the drawback that this gun used ordinary gunpowder, and not smokeless, it was always intended to replace them by larger 12 pr B.L. guns firing smokeless powder as soon as these latter should become available in consequence of the rearmament of the field artillery generally with the new 18 pr guns.”
The 12 pr B.L. guns to which the question refers to are assumed to be the battery of 12 pr B.L. guns which has recently been sent to Victoria for this purpose.
“Again it is not correct to say that these 12 pr guns, or indeed any guns of any nature, are supplied to regiments or units of garrison artillery. All guns are supplied and belong to the fortress only, and, the corps or men told off to work or drill with any particular gun, may, at any time be changed, and indeed often are changed as circumstances require. For the working of the particular guns in question, a company or part of a company of the 5th Regiment, C.A. will now be detailed to train, and has trained, with the old13 pr muzzle loading guns which have now been taken away. The selection of the particular company or part of a company…………..made by the officer commanding the regiment, in communication with the officer commanding the Esquimalt defences.”
“It may be noted that in the case of Halifax, the moveable armament includes, and has, for many years past, included, among others 15 pr B.L. guns, while this gun and the 12 pr B.L. gun are in use for the same purpose in many of the fortified ports of Great Britain and the empire generally. It is considered that for the special conditions of Esquimalt, 12 pr B.L. guns are well suited, probably better suited than would be the 15 pr inasmuch as they are lighter and more easily handled on bad roads.”
“Note - The new 18 pr field guns are nowhere allotted for this purpose.”
The manner in which the Esquimalt defences have been neglected and how the guns and armament intended for Signal Hill when the Imperial left many years ago has been lying rusting on the hillside, scattered where the Imperial forces left it – when the defence was transferred to the Dominion of Canada many years has been the matterof severe comment by many British newspapers. Last summer the Morning Post published a long account with accompanying editorial references commenting upon the neglect of the defencessince taken over by Canada, and more recently Sir William Whyte, the eminent naval architect who visited Esquimalt some time ago wrote in the same strain in the London Times. Mr. R.L. Borden, leader of the opposition, called attention of the government to the remarks of Sir William Whyte. He said: “Have the government had their attention drawn to some observations of Sir Wm Whyte, which are to be found in the London Times of November 19, regarding the condition of the navy yards at Halifax and Esquimalt.”
Sir Wilfred Laurier: “I could not answer that off hand.”
Sir Frederick Borden: “I am aware that some correspondence has taken place.”
Mr. R.L. Borden: “I can read the observations if the minister would like to hear them. They are these: “During the past summer he had visited the naval yards at Esquimalt and obtained first knowledge of its condition. Considerable extension had been made in comparitvely recent times to its workshops, wharehouses and plants, fortification designed to protect the harbor had been modernized but the work was incomplete. He found the fort unarmed, the guns lying on the ground at the foot of the hill in the open. The navy yard was without a staff capable of maintaining in good condition the expensive machinery left in the workshops, and in the buildings. The stores had been disposed of locally at rediulously low prices and the naval base had been abandoned and was rapidly deteriorating. From information received he had reason to believe that the naval base at Halifax was in a similar condition. Facts of this nature made clear the importance attaching to the new agreement under which these naval bases were to be maintained by the Dominion government. It was to be hoped that before long all foreign naval stations would be restored to a condition of efficiency so that the operations of the Imperial……
Sir Frederick Borden: “I misunderstood by Hon. Friend regarding the question. I have no information on that matter, but will make inquiries and be able to give a report if there is anything in the department.”
January 30, 1910
MYSTERY OF WARLIKE NOTE
Odd Writing, With Hindustani Embellishments Says Writer Is
Lieut. Col. A.W. Currie, commanding officer of the Fifth Regiment, C.G.A., received a remarkable note yesterday, a mysterious reference, embellished with struggling Hindustani hieroglyphics, suggestive of mutiny, war, murder and sudden death. It had been found in a street car by a passenger, and the finder hurried with it to the head of the citizen soldiery. He had been uncertain whether it was not his duty as a loyal Briton to rush at once to the cable office and have the deep sea cables hear an immediate warning to White Hall, but he had read that Kipling tale of how cabinet ministers spend their ends chasing runaway monkeys, and he put the thing up to Lieut. Col. Currie, advising him to hurriedly summon his forces to hasten to Pendisfrie to protect it from El Casha. For 101 reasons, the first being that the colonel didn’t know where Pendisfrie was and the other reasons are immaterial – no alarm was given.
The mysterious writing, in scrawny labored handwriting, with embellishments of Hindustani read:
Dear Sir, - I am raising troops to take Pendisfrie.
It was folded and pocket worn when found, but its message was clear – as clear as a London fog. Mr. El Casha, whoever he may be, said he was raising troops to take Pendisfrie.
Sherlock Holmes turned the thing over again and again in his hand. “What do you make of it Watson ?” he asked, jabbing himself again a sixteenth of an inch to the right of the main artery with his pondering needle as he stared from the Baker street window at his enemy, the professor, watching him from a doorway across the way. “of course, it’s a cipher,” he said. “That Wady suggests water; argo, look for the watermark. The signature suggests money; but we’ve got no money. The fact that he is raising troops suggests that he ought to be called on at least soon and raised by rope preferably if it’s a mutinous affair. But where this Pebdisfrie is I don’t know.
“Why not ask G.D. Kumar,” said Watson.
“No, I think we had better leave it to the Fifth Regiment. If they can’t find Pendisfrie, I don’t suppose El Casha’s troops will be able to. It’s an even break, so we’ll leave it to them. If this Pendisfrie is lying around loose, John Bull would have taken it centuries ago, so, wherever it is, it can’t be much if he hasn’t got it, and if he has got it, well, he can keep it no matter whether El Casha makes his raise or not.
St. Michael’s University School
On March 4th the Corps went out by car to Esquimalt to see the big gun practice. Three six inch guns on disappearing mountings fired eighteen rounds at an average range of three miles, and every shot was a hit, this constituting a record for any Canadian battery. One gun was entirely manned by officers of the Fifth Regiment.
March 9, 1910
Guns and Gunnery
Sir: The truly magnificent record made with the 6 inch guns by the garrison at Work point barracks only emphasizes the grotesque absurdity of the present incomplete conditions of the land defences around Esquimalt. According to the latest gunnery returns of the British navy any old cruiser such as H.M.S. Warspite or H.M.S. Impeticuse, which were on this station years ago, could with their 9.2 guns every minute throw nearly two tons of projectiles into these forts from a distance quite beyond the effective range of the pea shooters mounted in the works. In other words while the garrison at Fort Macaulay could be pumping iron into a cruiser (within range) at the rate of a ton in less than seven minutes the aforementioned ancient craft could safely lay in the offing beyond the range of these guns and unload projectiles into the forts at the rate of nearly two tons per minute or to be exact 26,600 pounds in seven minutes. Until the Dominion government completes the armament of Signal Hill by mounting the 9.2 guns which for years have been lying in the ground where they were left by the Imperial authorities when they handed over Esquimalt to the keeping of the government at Ottawa, the so called fortress is one in name only. If the proposed Canadian navy is to receive similar treatment at the hands of the authorities as has been meted out to permanent fortifications, then god help the Canadian navy.
March 22, 1910
NEWS OF THE CITY
Field guns Moved
A battery of field guns was moved through the city yesterday. Four 12 pounder field guns were brought from the Work Point Barracks to the drill hall, where the guns will be used hereafter by No. 3 Company of the Fifth Regiment C.G.A.
May 19, 1910
SIR F. BORDEN TO VISIT VICTORIA
Garrison May be Moved From Work Point to the Esquimalt Navy Yard
Imperial changes relative to the disposition of the Work Point garrison are understood to be pending, and will probably eventuate on the arrival here of Sir Frederick Borden, Canada’s Minister of Militia, who, it is understood, will visit Victoria within the next few months. It is stated that when the Dominion authorities finally take over the naval yard at Esquimalt from the Admiralty that the Work Point barracks will be dismantled and the troops stationed there removed to quarters in the naval yard. The strength of the garrison is at present some 110 men, and it is understood that the force will be added to as at present it is altogether insufficient.
With the arrival of Sir Frederick Borden it is further understood that something definite will become known of the plans of the federal government with regard to the establishment of a naval station at Esquimalt.
In connection with the reported abandonment of the Work Point barracks to the effect that the site will become the location of the Canadian Northern terminals for the Victoria and Barclay Sound railway.
MINUTE GUNS TO BE FIRED
Garrison Will Carry out Memorial Service
Tomorrow 68 minute guns will be fired from the saluting battery at Work Point beginning at sundown, and at the same time the gunners at every saluting station in the empire will similarly fire 68 guns, mourning guns for His late Majesty King Edward, while the royal funeral is being held many thousand miles away.
The Fifth Regiment C.G.A. will take part in the ceremonies in connection with the funeral. The following regimental order was issued by Lieut. Col. Currie, commanding the Fifth Regiment yesterday:
“The Regiment will parade at the drill hall on Friday the 20th at 5:30 p.m. for the purpose of proceeding to Work Point barracks to take part in ceremonies in connection with the funeral of His late Majesty King Edward VII.
Dress: Review order, with helmets.”
Following the firing of the minute guns: during the progress of which the assembled parade of the forces at Work Point and the Fifth Regiment C.G.A., will stand with arms reversed and the band will play slow marches, the gunners will fire a royal salute of twenty one guns for King George V, and the parade will present arms and cheer for the King.
Lieut. Col. A.W. Currie is asking for the attendance at the drill hall at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow of fifty men attired in review order with forage caps for the purpose of carrying out police work in connection with the civic memorial parade.
Special services will be held in the city churches. At 11 a.m. a memorial service will be held at Christ Church.
October 8, 1910
Secretary, The Militia Council, Ottawa
I have the honour to most respectfully request that authority be given for the firing of a midday gun at the Saluting Battery, Work Point Barracks, daily.
This custom has hitherto not been carried out at this station.
I strongly recommend that approval be granted for this request, as being in keeping with the routine of a permanent artillery garrison.
I have the honour to be,
27th October, 1910
Sir, I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th instant on the subject marginally noted, and, in reply, to inform you that at a meeting of the Militia Council held on the 25th instant, your recommendation was approved.
An accompanying register shows a log of the above gun from October 17, 1910 to November 2, 1933 at the Saluting Battery overlooking Rose Bay. I am assuming from other information as well that the gun was a R.B.L. 20 pr gun, not a R.M.L. 13 pr, and was relocated to the shed at West Bay after that period.
Noon Day Gun
Yesterday at noon the artillerymen at Work Point Barracks fired a noon day gun for the first time. Arrangements have been made through the C.P.R. and Mr. E. Baynes Reed, meteorologist, to supply the gunners with the exact time and the gun will be fired daily from the saluting battery.
Work Point Barracks Main Gates
Record Plan # 63, showing new “Main Gates” for vehicular traffic and a pedestrian gate, Guard House side, drawn by Sapper H. Hinde, R.C.E., corrected to April 30, 1926. Drawing # 345-M-1. These gates were erected in October.
Shows four brick columns on concrete footings with wooden picket fencing, main gates and pedestrian gate hinged to open inward.