HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 9 — 1971 to 1994
Presentation of Colours to Third Battalion
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Work Point Barracks, Victoria, B.C.
September 16, 1972
The Municipality of Esquimalt conferred the honour of “Freedom of the City” to the 3rd Battalion PPCLI and hosted the very colourful and popular ceremonial parade by the unit.
ESQUIMALT AND THE SOLDIER
The article, with photographs of Work Point Barracks, was written by the Lookout staff about the history of Work Point Barracks and its relationship to CFB Esquimalt and the Municipality of Esquimalt as it exists today, in 1972.
Barracks Mess Ablaze
Fire engulfed the warrant officers’ and sergeant’s mess at Work Point early today, destroying battle mementoes and sending up flames clearly visible miles away.
Men and equipment from three fire halls, - Esquimalt, Belmont Park and HMC Dockyard were still battling the blaze at 2 a.m. Heat from the blaze triggered alarms in the guard room at the main gate of the barracks, home of the third battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian light infantry regiment, and at the Naden firehall.
There were no reports of injuries.
The blaze was believed to have started in the lounge area of the mess, which was unoccupied at the time. At the peak of the fire, flames shot 50 feet high from the old frame construction, h shaped building. Nearby barracks were described as being “not in danger.”
Much of the barracks, valuables, - such as silverware, regimental trophies, pictures and similar articles – were believed to have been destroyed in the blaze.
Officials said much of this material is of “priceless historical value,” forming a part of the Queen’s Own Rifles and the PPCLI tradition.
Priceless regimental trophies, including silverware and paintings, were destroyed early today, when flames swept through the warrant officers’ and sergeant’s mess of the Third Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light infantry, Work Point Barracks.
The mess, normally occupied at weekends by up to 100 men, was unoccupied today. The PPCLI left Monday for Alberta to take part in field manoeuvres.
The fire was believed to have started in the lounge area of the old frame-construction building. Firemen described the building as a total loss, but were unable to give an estimate of damage cost.
PATS MEMENTOES NOT IN FIRE
Mess Equipment Destroyed
Initial reports of historically valuable regimental mementoes being destroyed in the fire that swept the warrant officers’ and sergeant’s mess at Work Point Barracks early Saturday were in error, a Canadian Forces spokesman said later in the day.
The spokesman said the mess contained two ceremonial swords, some inter regimental trophies, wall plaques with the crests of other regiments and some silverware, including two trays. Total value “might be a couple of hundred dollars,” he said.
The fire, which broke out just before 1 a.m., as put out by Canadian Forces and Esquimalt fire trucks. The mess was unoccupied at the time as the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, is on exercise in Alberta.
This spokesman said the cause of the fire is not known, but a board of enquiry would probably be convened Monday. A similar fire that destroyed the junior ranks mess at CFB Esquimalt in 1971 was found to be arson.
No estimate of the damage was available, but the H shaped wooden building now is just a shell, he said.
Work Point fire – the morning after
February 5, 1973
ARSON RULED OUT IN MESS FIRE
Arson has been ruled out as a possible cause of the Saturday morning fire that destroyed the warrant officer’ and sergeant’s mess at Work Point Barracks.
“There are no thoughts that the fire might be the result of Arson,” Captain Harry Addison, duty officer on the night of the fire, said today.
A fire that destroyed the junior ranks mess at CFB Esquimalt in 1971 was later discovered to be arson.
Addison said at the time of the fire the building was closed and few personnel were around because the regiment had left earlier in the week for military exercises in Alberta.
A military board of enquiry will begin its investigations Tuesday, Addison said.
Earlier reports that valuable regimental trophies had been lost in the fire were amended today by CFB’s regional information officer, Maj. Vic Keating.
Keating said today that he doubted “if there was anything irreplaceable in the mess” at the time of the fire. It had been a couple of years since the Major was last in the building and he had relied on the memory of a mess sergeant Saturday when giving the press an account of what mementoes it contained.
Ace Manchu was a Great Pyrenees / Malamute cross. He was presented to the 3rd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry by the US Army in Alaska in 1973.
Ace was promptly promoted to Corporal and became the battalion mascot. He served at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt as 3 PPCLI mascot for the next three years, at which time Ace retired from the army.
These photos show him on parade in Victoria and at Work Point Barracks.
The photos and the ceremonial coat of the mascot can be seen in the naval museum at CFB Esquimalt Naden.
March 1, 1974
“The History of Submarine Mining and Boom Defences
LADY PATRICIA RAMSAY, CI CD COLONEL IN CHIEF
CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
Sunday 17 March, 1974 Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
June 15, 1974
The Third Battalion, PPCLI, was granted “Freedom of the City” by the City of Victoria.
On 15 June, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Regiment was presented with the Freedom of the City of Victoria by His Worship, Mayor Peter Pollen, at a ceremony held in front of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria. The charter was signed by the Colonel of the Regiment, Major general C. B. Ware, DSO, CD, with the third battalion of Victoria on parade.
TROOPING OF THE COLOUR
Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Royal Athletic Park Victoria, British Columbia Monday 1 July, 1974
Stevenson and Kellogg Ltd.
This company produced reports covering extant buildings within the areas of CFB Esquimalt for DND. It includes building and construction data, photographs and floor plan drawings. An occupancy schedule indicates present use and proposed functions for the buildings.
This report is a must see for researching all the buildings of the day and it is available to see at the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
The 3rd Battalion PPCLI served with the United Nations force in Cyprus from November 1975 until April 1976. The battalion paraded through the streets of Victoria exercising their privilege of “Freedom of the City” as they bid farewell to the City prior to leaving.
FORT RODD HILL NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
This 5 page historical writing was written by Jack Rippengale, Area Superintendent, National Historic Parks and Sites, Vancouver Island. This 1975 account as titled has proven to be quite accurate based on my own research to date.
FAMILY GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Among the old familiar faces gathering tonight to pay final tribute to Lampson Street school will be members of the Buxton family.
All 14 children of the late Phoebe and Percival “Tich” Buxton at one time or another studied their three R’s at Lampson, which closes its doors forever at the end of June.
The oldest Buxton, Phoebe (now 65 year old Phoebe Simmons of Parksville), first attended Lampson in 1916.
It was 1948 before the youngest member of the family, now Mrs. June Burkholder of Edmonton, finished grade 8 in the first school built in Esquimalt.
During those thirty-two years, there weren’t many school terms that went by when several Buxton children weren’t attending Lampson, which has since seen dozens of grandchildren pass through its doors.
David Buxton, former Lampson student and now a drill instructor at Royal Roads Military Academy, said he expects seven of his brothers and sisters to be at Lampson tonight for the reunion.
For years the largest family in the Victoria area, the Buxtons spent all their family years in Esquimalt.
Also expected to attend the two hour social, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, are four former Lampson principals, said Walter Boyes, current principal at Lampson and an organizer of the reunion.
The list includes Harold Campbell, former deputy minister of education in B.C. and Lampson principal from 1923 – 1928, Norman Forbes, principal from 1950 – 1956, Lloyd Main, principal from 1956 – 1961, and Albert Davies, principal from 1961 – 1968.
Boyes said he is expecting around 1,000 former students and teachers to attend the evening in honor of the school’s 73 year history.
The story of the school has been compiled in booklet form and will be on sale tonight.
The Third Battalion PPCLI again exercised their privilege of “Freedom of the City” of Victoria in April 1976 on their return from the peacekeeping tour in Cyprus.
PLAQUE - OFFICER’S MESS AND QUARTERS
“THE GEORGE PEARKES BUILDING”
The present site of the Work Point Officer’s Mess was selected by Lt. Col. J.C. Holmes, of the 11 Military District in 1883. The building was constructed circa 1890 and served as the residence of the commandant and field officers until it was redesignated the Officer’s Mess.
Princess Pats Off Today To Australia
One hundred and fifty men of the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry left today for six weeks in Australia.
The group, led by Major Gordon Manning, will take part in military manoeuvres at the Australian Army Land Warfare Centre at Canungra, southwest of of Brisbane. They will also undergo training at another Queensland army base, at Enoggera before returning September 21.
While they are away, 150 members of the Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment will be taking part in exercises in northern and western Canada. The Australian soldiers who arrive Saturday will take part in an amphibious exercise off the west coast of Vancouver Island, participate in mountain training in the Rockies near Banff and will also be involved in military exercises planned in the Yukon and North West Territories.
THIRD BATTALION PRINCESS PATRICIA’S CANADIAN LIGHT INFANTRY
FREEDOM OF THE CITY OF VICTORIA PARADE
THE PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
SATURDAY 1 JULY, 1978
MACAULAY POINT PARK DEAL PROVE A FLOP
The 17.3 acres at Macaulay Point Esquimalt was supposed to inherit from the Federal Government for $1 has grown to $170,000. Council turned down the offer after a meeting with officials of the Crown Assets Department. The decision to say no was made at a special council meeting to engage an engineering consultant until the new engineer takes over April 1.
The original deal with Ottawa was that Esquimalt would get the Macaulay Point property for park purposes if it would realistically zone the Work Point area to residential, multiple and commercial. This was in preparation for phasing out Work Point Barracks.
Council’s theory is that the Government changed its mind and decided to keep everything and the Macaulay price tag jumped. “We felt $170,000 was too much to pay for parkland,” said Mayor Art Young. Esquimalt had already presented a park plan.
The 3rd Battalion PPCLI served its 3rd term with United Nations forces in Cyprus from April 1980 to October 1980.
A HISTORY OF THE DEFENCE OF VICTORIA AND ESQUIMALT, 1846 – 1893.
This 165 page history including some illustrations is an excellent history of the above years, and is somewhat overlooked as a resource for events of the era. A must look at with a variety of content.
Doug wrote a letter to the Base Commander of the day, on “Retention of Historic Sites From Demolition.” It includes a summary of the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortifications by Jack Rippengale, Planning Officer, Fort Rodd Hill Historic Site. This concise summary lists the 15 Gun Batteries, 3 Fire Command Posts, the Fortress Plotting Room, the 4 Fortress Observation Posts and the 11 Searchlight Positions, with a description of each.
A paragraph of note was a reference to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada’s declaration that “The Victoria – Esquimalt Fortifications were of National Historic Importance,”in 1958, that “In the absence of named exclusions, the Board’s declaration of 1958 presumably intended to include all of those components which collectively comprise the Victoria – Esquimalt Fortifications.” Further studies by Parks Canada have also included Work Point which of course was the Fortress Headquarters.
All points lost in time! ... I wonder how many sites actually remain.
The Lookout CFB Esquimalt
Gunners Give Memento
The third of March was a very significant occasion for the Royal Canadian Artillery Association as the gunners presented a three inch anti-aircraft gun to Work Point Barracks.
The gun is destined to serve as a permanent memorial marking the service of the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Work Point Barracks. Not only is the gun unique, but so has been the artillery’s role and presence here. The Regiment of Canadian Artillery first established itself in Victoria in 1887, “C” Battery moved into Work Point Barracks when it was completed in 1890. Since then, the artillery units and schools have remained on strength at Work Point until 1957.
They are listed as follows:
The gun itself came from the RCA Museum in CFB Shilo, Manitoba and was refurbished by the 3PPCLI Maintenance Platoon. It is a 3 inch, 20 CWT, MK IIIA, quick firing anti aircraft gun. Leading up to WW 1 almost every type of field gun was tried for the anti air craft role. The three inch was the best amalgamation of design at the time. It was the first “purpose built” British AA gun and was introduced in 1914. The Mark III had a maximum range of 23,500 yards. It could fire shrapnel, high explosives, and incendiary ammunition. The guns remained in use during WW II and were subsequently removed from service.
In his presentation speech, Colonel R.A. Jacobson, President of the RCAA, stated that, “The gun, as a memorial, makes us appreciate the past, aware of the present, and stirs anticipation of the future.” It is also a reminder that Canada is “back in the air defence role.”
The plaque reads: “The gunners motto in English is: Everywhere, Whither right and glory lead.”
The Royal Canadian Artillery and Princess Patricia’s Canadian light Infantry have enjoyed a steadfast comradeship ever since the regiment’s beginning in 1914.
“The gun has been trusted to good friends who will maintain it as a symbol of the comradeship,” said Lt Col. Brian Vernon, Commanding Officer of 3PPCLI as he accepted the gun from the RCAA on behalf of Work Point Barracks. The presentation was followed by a luncheon where many a war story was exchanged and the artillery’s past at Work Point Barracks was briefly revisited.
An “ack – ack” gun for Work Point Barracks
A plaque on the pedestal in front of the gun reads:
3-IN 20 - CWT Mk III A QF ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN
THIS GUN WAS PLACED HERE BY
A small plate attached to the gun reads:
THIS 3“ Q.F. SHOREMOUNT
This gun remains in place to date aside the Flag Staff at the Saluting Base and over looks Rose Bay adjacent to the 1897 Brick Magazine as part of a Memorial Precinct.
THIRD BATTALION PRINCESS PATRICIA’S CANADIAN LIGHT INFANTRY
SUNDAY 17TH MAY, 1981
PARADE THE PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
MILITARY TATTOO ROYAL ATHLETIC PARK EIGHT O’CLOCK
NOON – HOUR BOOM!
A loud BOOM reverberates from the office towers of downtown Victoria. Office and construction workers along with visitors automatically check their watches. It is 12 noon. The cannon has said so.
The gun in the article is not to be confused with the Work Point Barracks Time Gun that was fired for so many decades, but not since the late 1960’s. It is the small cannon in a cage situated water side of Laurel Point and has a very interesting history.
Lt Col F.D.H. (Doug) Nelson, Base Historian, and Dr. N.E. Oliver of Insight Consultants, produced a report “CFB Esquimalt Military Heritage.” This 1982 study contains an inventory of buildings constructed prior to 1939 and identifies a number of structures with heritage value as determined by a numerical rating scale similar in principle to that of FHBRO. (The Federal Heritage Building Review Office) This report includes a history of the base and lists buildings of Primary Importance and Secondary Importance for the five areas of CFB Esquimalt: Dockyard, Signal Hill, Naden, Work Point and Colwood.