HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 10 — 1995 to 2017
Regarding the FHBRO report 10-102 for Fort Macaulay, it remains unavailable to date and reported to still be in the approval process. Refer to March 5, 2015.
WP 1031, the “Amiens Building” which retains that 3 PPCLI dedication, has had the sign “Navy Learning Support Centre” removed and was previously the “Civilian Human Resources Centre (Pacific)” This building still currently houses the Work Point Model Railroad Club and the CFB Esquimalt Power Boat Club overlooking Rose Bay and is starting to look a little run down of late as well.
Work Point Garden Club – get down and dirty
Looking for a fun and productive way to get outside? Try the Work Point garden Club. Vancouver Island is blessed with a climate that permits gardening year-round. Mild winters let us keep vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and even root crops such as carrots and beets in the ground right through until spring. However, our mild coastal summers make growing heat-loving vegetables such as peppers a challenge, unless located in a warm backyard or under a season extender such as a mini hoop-house.
Growing your own food is a rewarding activity in more ways than one. Gardening gives us the opportunity to grow nutrient-dense fresh vegetables and live an active, healthy lifestyle. Gardening reduces our carbon footprint by providing vegetables close to home, and can also save money on the grocery bill after a small initial investment. Work Point Garden Club welcomes both experienced gardeners and beginners. You can contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esquimalt First Nation Claims Land, Water
The Esquimalt First Nation is claiming lands and water around Greater Victoria, saying the Crown unlawfully seized the property. In a notice of civil claim files in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Tuesday, the Esquimalt Nation is seeking an order of possession for the lands and water in question, and compensation.
The area covers waterfront land in Esquimalt that is now held by the Department of National Defence, running roughly north to Lyall Street in Esquimalt and west to Clifton Terrace near Macaulay Point. Plumper Bay and Inskip Islands are also claimed, as is a chunk of land from the shoreline on the west and across Admirals Road and past Seenupin Road on the east. Hallowell Road is the northern border.
An oral agreement was struck in 1850 between the Lekwungen collective, representing six southern Vancouver Island sub-groups, and James Doulas, who was representing the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Imperial Crown, the notice of claim states. The Lekwungen collective is today part of the Esquimalt Nation. Under the terms of that treaty, the claim states, the Lekwungen would keep their village sites, burial lands and sustenance resource lands, including camas fields, berry and herb-gathering areas, and potato patches.
Also, the Lekwungen were to retain their fishing grounds and right to fish, and the title to the land would not change, it said. The federal Crown unlawfully infringed on the Lekwungen’s aboriginal title, the document states. Lekwungen traditional territory was transferred to agents of the Crown and to others, the claim asserts.
February 11, 2016
ROYAL NAVAL RIFLE RANGE - COBURG PENINSULA
It is well known that the Royal Navy built a rifle range on the Esquimalt Lagoon spit (Coburg Peninsula) with the butts (berm) somewhere near one kilometer west of the bridge, and a Rifle Hut near the present day monument just west of the bridge. To help confirm the berm location, I unearthed five lead bullets from the area inland where the butts are considered to be, within the swale of inland shoreline at that point. The standard 12 foot high berm would have been “bulldozed” inland forming the swale. Three “slugs,” identified as bullets from a Martini-Henry rifle, coincide with the rifles used by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines at that time during the 1870’s to the 1890’s. Also found were two Snider rifle bullets, indicating shooting activity possibly as early as 1866 and prior to the Martini Henry era. All the lead bullets were deformed as would have been the case upon hitting the “butts” and were found no deeper than 4 inches.
The Maritime Museum of BC “The Bulletin” No. 28, March 1975, contains a story of the Royal Navy firing a 32 pounder cannon mounted ashore on the Coburg Peninsula in 1868, perhaps the one in the BC Archives photograph NA 39862, HP 008862. The LAC photograph PA 124078 shows the Royal Navy at the Musketry Hut with rifles “stacked” in military fashion, most likely Martini Henry’s, c 1870. Popular rifle range shooting distances were 200, 500 and 600 yards.
In 1896 a house was built in line with the south-westerly shooting direction of the range beyond the target location in the area north-east of Sangster’s Knoll and beyond the end of the spit. This was adjacent to the water supply source used by the Royal Navy and an orchard. However, the Admiralty decided that due to the capability of the new magazine equipped rifles, volley fire would put the house and its residents in harm’s way while also declining an option to buy the land and house. Instead, it made plans to build a new 1,000 yard rifle range on “Goose Spit” in Comox and immediately closed the range on Coburg Peninsula in 1897. The house was likely in the location of James Sangster’s cabin, where Her Majesty’s sailors has erected a flume in order that the water of the springs from which the Fleet is supplied with ”Adam’s Ale” could be readily accessed for obvious reasons. James Sangster had purchased a 20 acre property on Royal Bay known as Lot 10, Section 7, Esquimalt District earlier but died in 1858, unfortunately by his own hand. “Sangster’s Plains,” the abandoned gravel pit site, was also named after him.
See “Naval Rifle Range” in the British Colonist June 10, 1897, page 6 and “Burglary at Sangster’s Plains,” British Colonist June 25, 1861, page 3.
Organized and participated in a tour of the Dockyard today, the focus to see where the Submarine Mining Establishment of 1893 – 1906 was located and what buildings or structures remain in the 3 - 1893 encroachment zones. Barry Gough, Clare Sharpe and I were in the group and we visited the Base Museum warehouse, exploring the many files and drawing and artifacts that are stored there. The troops involved in submarine mining and searchlight functions were the Royal Marine Artillery, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Garrison Artillery respectively during this time, all residing in Work Point Barracks. There is a magazine at Signal Hill, (SH 542) likely to be soon demolished, part of the jetty at the extent of the Hood Building (DY 575) and a concrete structure below the Admiral’s House (DY 101) at the shoreline, possibly a searchlight location or a cable transition point. There is no reference to it in the numerous heritage studies of the Dockyard. Also noted were various shoreline anchoring remnants. Another tour is to be arranged in the near future.
Noticed today that the married quarters building 920 – 930 Bewdley Avenue was getting a new roof, and others have tarps on them. This a good sign for the maintenance program at Work Point.
Noticed today that the left gun emplacement at Fort Macaulay was flooded again, the catch basin and its 7 “ drain as not taking away the water. This happened earlier last November as well. This time the DND cleared whatever blockage there was, a Bravo – Zulu to them.
Royal BC Museum Loans First Nations Exhibit
On display now at the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum is a new exhibit loaned from the BC Museum featuring early First Nations settlement and cultural features stretching along Fleming Beach and Macaulay Point. The exhibit brings to life Lekwungen land use through the panels, archival photographs and paintings.
Especially rare in the exhibit is an original stone net sinker found under water on the reef off the southern end of Macaulay Point. The sinker was used to hold a fishing net down between two canoes. “This area has evidence of a fascinating human history going back over 4,000 years,” says Royal BC Museum curator of Archaeology Grant Keddie. Keddie says the area is especially unique because it is an accessible archaeological site that people can visit and learn from.
Macaulay Point was known as Mukwuks by the Lekwungen First Nation on whose traditional territory it is located. Today the Lekwungen are represented by the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. “I think it’s really important to let people in the local communities know what surrounds them historically,” Keddie says. “When people are aware of their own histories they are much more likely to preserve it and be interested in it.”
Echoing his words, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum Exhibit Designer Clare Sharpe says, “We are pleased to receive the loan of this interpretive display, which is very relevant to new the permanent content our own museum has developed in connection with the First Nations presence in the region,” she says. The exhibit will be on display until April 18, 2016. With files from Clare Sharpe, Museum Exhibit Designer and Webmaster, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
Another tour of the Dockyard today, Richard Linzey joined Barry, Clare and I this time. After the first tour we had some understanding of the site, discovered additional structures, and had time to review the various reports on submarine mining and searchlight history. This helped in understanding the locations and provided options for interpreting. It does appear that the Army installations namely the submarine mining and searchlight structures in the encroachment areas were not shown on plans, only the Submarine Mining Establishment in Constance Cove.
The list of reports reviewed were: R. Lovat - 1893-1906; Byron Taylor - Submarine Mining at Esquimalt 1865 – 1906; Imperial Fortress (Thesis) MacKinnon 1965; Stevenson and Kellogg Report - 1974; Nelson and Oliver – 1982; FHBRO 89-202; a Doug Nelson personal report and various maps and drawings. We also reviewed where the Crimea Huts had been built in 1855.
Another clean-up of Macaulay Point Park took place today, ridding the park of invasive varieties of foliage. This is very good to ensure that the park retains its natural species and enforce the DND program “behind the 2010 fencing.”
Esprit de Corps Magazine
My article on “The Battle of Kapyong Revisited” appeared this month, look for a follow up next month with more on the exploits of Captain Mike Levy in World War 2.
CADETS GET INSIDER VIEW of DOCKYARD
Thirty-five Army Cadets from Vancouver were given a tour of Dockyard, the Legislative Buildings, the Bay Street Armoury and Work Point, organized by Major James Barrett.
On a quick tour of the Work Point “proper” today after grass cutting and clean up at the Guardhouse (the site looks very respectable still) except for the roadway approaching the gate, I noted the Counter Intelligence signage on building 1071 was gone. Another department moved out of Work Point. The rest of the “campus” appears to be in constant use by various personnel.
Base Fire Services Assists Esquimalt
... One month later, on March 29, FB Esquimalt fire fighters were called upon to assist fighting a fully involved trailer fire that broke. Six base fire fighters, including Crisp, attended the 2 a.m. call at West Bay Marine Village. Township of Esquimalt fire fighters were already on scene attacking the fire when they arrived. The fire originated in a motorhome, where the two occupants inside were alerted by their fire alarm and escaped safely. Three trailers parked close together were damaged by the flames, which Crisp says towered nearly 20 feet in the air. Water and foam was used by the fire fighters to extinguish the flames, which died out between around four a.m. that day. The investigation into how the fire originated is ongoing.
Work Point Guardhouse
I am most pleased to report that the Guardhouse lease which is to expire December 31, 2016 has been extended for another five years to December 31, 2021. The 1891 Guardhouse has quite a history, maintaining it and seeing it in active use, particularly by the PPCLI army cadets as their headquarters, is indeed a pleasure. Will now see what other enhancements can be done!
Esprit de Corps Magazine
My second article on Mike Levy was in the May issue, a further tribute to him, this time on his WW 2 exploits. Recognition is certainly due, and hopefully there will be some feedback particularly from the PPCLI to which he was so loyal had so many grateful comrades.
Today I hosted the 3rd Annual event and it was by double the people attending than last year. The weather was breezy and some rain however it was a pleasure again. We had 12 photos placed with the building # signs and the usual handout with brief historical descriptions. Special thanks to Marilyn, the Archives Sherri, my good friend Ellis and Scott Johnson of Toad Hollow who helped out. The main focus of course for those visiting is the presence of the VEMRA who set up camp again and interacted with the public after my tour of the site which included more reference to the original 1878 gun battery on the point. Esquimalt has introduced an APP which will greatly enhance the history of Fort Macaulay and Buxton Green. David Buxton dropped by with his friend Linda Hansen, which added to the day. On May 27th, Esquimalt Parks and Rec organized a “paint up” of the tunnel and the brick workshops and cut the grass effectively to profile the structures. This made it most presentable to display and more appealing to the public who traverse the site. A rough count was around 100 people who attended the event and the walk about, a lot of fun. It proved the purpose of the park, for Recreation and Historic Interest.
2483 PPCLI Cadet Corps
On June 5th the PPCLI Cadet Corps held their Annual Ceremonial Review at Work Point “Barracks” on the parade square. There were probably around a hundred people in attendance and were treated to a very fine display of ceremonial drill, awards and special performances by the cadet drill team and also their band. Although the corps has lost a number of their aged out cadets, the newer cadets performed at their best and showed enthusiasm and commitment. 30 in all, dressed in summer sleeves they were well deserving of the praise they received. Knowing the staff and supporters of the cadets, they were most proud of the performance and the program, rightfully so. It was bright sunny day, with a slight harbour breeze, and Work Point was the perfect place to hold the ceremony. All adjourned to the Gun Room for a social and barbeque overlooking Rose Bay, another gem of Esquimalt, with a backdrop of the Victoria Harbour and Ogden Point. A most fitting contemporary and traditional location for any military occasion as the number of veterans, parents and family members and guests could attest, personally I was thrilled and it is a pleasure to continue to contribute to their success. PPCLI Association colleague Bruce Dickey video recorded the event. Although an invitation was sent to Mayor and Council, there was not a representative from the Township of Esquimalt present.
Changes Coming to Naval Schools
Partial … This includes the re-configuration of training establishments in Halifax and Esquimalt into two campuses, Atlantic and Pacific, under the Naval Personnel and Training Group to meet the RCN’s training requirements. Campus Pacific will stand up in a ceremony July 6. This means Canadian Forces Fleet School and the Naval Officers Training Centre will be re-configured into Naval Fleet School Pacific and Training Development Centre Pacific.
Naval Fleet School Pacific will deliver individual training such as career courses and qualifications to sailors in Esquimalt. The Training Development Centre Pacific will be the RCN’s Centre of Excellence for engineering, damage control, command, leadership and professional development.
This is great from a Work Point perspective as it means the enhancement of facilities and re dedication of functions that utilize the buildings and parade square in Work Point.
GEESE BE GONE
Another sign that Work Point will be further enhanced is that CFB Esquimalt has hired a consultant and a Nuisance Wildlife Technician (man with dog) to remedy the goose problem within Work Point proper (Head, Lyall Peters and Malvern streets). This problem did get out of control but with the new training centre plans pending, we can’t have this s--- on our shiny shoes!
RCN Takes Next Step in Naval Training
Last Wednesday, Maritime Forces Pacific’s finest was on full parade to mark the reconfiguration of the Naval Training Development Centre (Pacific) and Naval Fleet School (Pacific.) The large scale parade was accompanied by the Naden band, and followed by a formal renaming and change of command, during which Commander S.E. Hooper took command of the Naval Training Development Centre (Pacific), while Commander Todd Bonnar took command of the Naval Fleet School (Pacific.)
This article is a follow up to the July 4th article on the newly created Campus Pacific at Work Point. The notable issue here is that more and more parade square functions are being held at Work Point with a backdrop of the Royal Garrison Artillery brick buildings. It appears that photographers love this aspect as well. Now they will soon likely keep the grass cut and the weed population down ! Two very nice photos are attached to the article.
This article by Peter Mallet tells about the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) based on an interview with Lt. Col. Russ Meades, the commanding officer. This article also includes a photograph of the Ranger Group practicing their drill on the parade square at Work Point. Once again, very photogenic, the brick buildings of 1902 are in the background.
Fort Macaulay, and Buxton Green, are the subject of increased clean ups and grass cutting this summer. I credit my sister Marilyn Day and her energy devoted to maintaining MACAULAY POINT PARK when it comes to fire prevention and mis-use / graffiti of the structures there. With the help of social media and the co-operation of the Esquimalt Parks, ETAG, Police and Fire departments, order and maintenance is being promoted. Hopefully this will let the abusers know that citizens are interested and won’t put up with any dis-respect of the Fort and the Park.
Do you have a green thumb ? The CFB Esquimalt Work Point Garden Club is currently seeking new membership. Located on the corner of Anson and Munro St, we have expanded our space and are looking for people who want to garden. Available plots are 15 ft x 15 ft and have individual water service. Questions and applications can be directed to our Club Secretary at email@example.com.
The club has expanded while adding fencing as well to keep the intruders out. This is a great opportunity to garden locally and gives Work Point supporters something to focus on. Fresh air and easy parking should be noted as a drawing card and of course what your efforts produce.
A third visit to the Dockyard today, and a bonus as the tide was out in the morning. This was organized so that Scott Johnson and his wife Laurie could accompany Clare and I as well as my old friend Ellis Meads, a retired civil engineer, who has a family history within the Dockyard. Scott and Laurie are with Toadhollow Photographers and have done a lot of “takes” on heritage sites. Once again each time I visit this location new information is found and recorded and especially today with the tide out we were able to walk on the beach along the little bay south of Duntze Head. Here we found a WW 2 bunker, or vault, which houses telephone cables as a splice point and transition location for three land cables to a submarine cable which goes to Fort Rodd Hill. This is similar to the one at Fleming Beach adjacent to Buxton Green. We also had a waterfront view of the DESL bunker with its steel doors and boldly went inside all the other bunkers, this we hadn’t done before. An excellent day, there will be a follow up story with the history of the structures shown only as “old bunkers” on plans of the Dockyard, and photos of course, and inclusion of Fort Rodd Hill as a co-defender of Esquimalt Harbour. Thanks again to Clare Sharpe for arranging access on behalf of the Base Museum.
A great credit goes to “Mission Adventures” with “New Hope Community Church” and six others who painted the structures at the Fort today. This all with promotion by ETAG’s Peter Justo and Dan Jenkins. It’s too bad the Township sees fit to entertain a contest between the graffiti brats and its Parks crews who wish to keep the Park respectable. I hear certain “vigilantes” are about to appear to take the situation in hand….
Old Victoria BC
On the website Old Victoria BC a video called “Construction of the Macauley Point Outfall, Victoria 1968 – 1970” was shared. It can be found on Youtube.com, a very worthy watch.
On a visit to Clover Point today, I noted a cairn dedicated to The HBC site and also the former site of a Rifle Range. Of particular interest is the 99 year lease from 1947 !
Work Point Barracks
The current historical buildings within Work Point I have discussed previously are building #’s 1004, 1020, 1068, 1070, 1071 and 1075. Below are post construction drawings courtesy of the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum:
For those interested in Coast Artillery Forts of the Pacific Northwest, Google that site, most interesting and by comparison to what we have here.
McLoughlin Point Historical Summary
• Work Point • CFB Esquimalt • West side of Victoria View Road
October 19, 2016
Brother’s Island, just outside the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour and once called “Deadman’s Island” for obvious reasons, was the location of a cemetery for the Royal Navy at Esquimalt. Although the earliest reference to a burial on Brother’s Island was in 1850, the earliest known grave marker there was that of George Macaulay, the Chief Engineer of HMS Brisk, who died on August 2, 1855. The monument was inscribed “Erected by a friend who knew him long and valued him much.” There were 19 Royal Navy burials recorded on Deadman’s Island.
A second and preceding location was Fort Victoria’s graveyard at the corner of Douglas and Johnson streets, where Benjamin Topp RN, was buried in 1846. Also, three sailors from HMS Thetis were buried there in 1852. A third location for deceased Royal Navy officers and men was that of the Old Quadra Street Burying Ground, later and currently called Pioneer Square in Victoria where 55 burials are recorded. It housed the “Naval Corner” after 1856 and received the remains of burials transferred from the Fort Victoria graveyard commencing in 1859. Visit the “Old Cemeteries Society” for more on these two City of Victoria graveyards.
In 1868, a Royal Navy Cemetery with a chapel was created where it remains today, situated on the south side of the Gorge Vale Golf Course. Within the chapel of the now “Veteran’s Cemetery” are two large shield shaped plaques containing the names, rank and age of nineteen officers, seamen and marines and the ships they sailed on dating from 1850 to 1862, buried on “Deadman’s Island.” According to Admiralty correspondence in 1878, the intention was to relocate the buried remains of the nineteen souls to the new Royal Navy Cemetery to facilitate the installation of a three gun battery, a supporting magazine and artillery stores as required for the new coastal defence scheme. The work was to be done by private contract so “not to excite the susceptibilities of any persons interested in the grave yard at Deadman’s Island.” However, arrangements could not be finalized in time and two guns, an 8 inch and a 64 pounder both Rifled Muzzle Loaders, and a magazine, were installed in 1878 under the sense of defensive urgency of the day.
In 1886, the third gun, a second 64 pounder RML and an artillery store was initiated, along with the intended earlier prior relocation of the buried remains of the 19 Royal Navy Officers, Seamen and Marines. They were finally re-interred in 1887 in the new Royal Navy Cemetery as previously planned, with some expressed regret as to the timing. The cost of $660, paid for by the Admiralty, included: ”Viz. stone tablets and new head boards (if any) and new coffins in every case, and also the cost of digging the new graves.” The third gun, a 64 pounder RML, and artillery store were installed coincidentally with the relocation and reinternment procedure.
The completed armament of the battery on now “Brother’s Island” consisted of three guns, one 8 inch and two 64 pounder Rifled Muzzle Loaders, with a supporting magazine and artillery gun store. The guns had been strategically placed so that their seaward arcs of fire would protect Esquimalt harbour and from Rodd Hill to Macaulay Point against attack. They were hauled onto the island by virtue of a landing stage and stairway on the north – west shore of the island.
Three other earthen and wood batteries built and completed coincidentally in 1878 forming the initial Victoria- Esquimalt Coastal Defence Fortification’s network, were at Finlayson Point (two 64 pounder RML guns), Victoria Point (two 64 pounder RML guns) and the largest at Macaulay Point (three 7 inch RML guns). The four batteries were manned by the Victoria Battery of Garrison Artillery, the volunteer local militia unit at the time, until the arrival in 1887 of “C” Battery, Regiment of Canadian Artillery, in Victoria. Under the command of Lt. Col. J. G. Holmes, it was responsible for training the local militia while maintaining the armaments, stores and security of all four batteries. This responsibility included the Dominion of Canada powder magazine at Beacon Hill Park, a source of discontent within the City of Victoria, the Drill Shed / Hall in James Bay, and eventually the Clover Point rifle range along Dallas road waterfront.
On September 14th of 1888, a fire on Brother’s Island destroyed the three gun platforms, the wooden magazine and artillery gun stores. From all reports it appeared that the fire started from camp fires on the beach, “communicating with” the grass and brush which covered the island. A request was sent for replacement of the guns and stores to Ottawa including inventory from axes, to lanyards to shells. There was a minimum amount of powder stored on the island as the main quantity of the powder inventory was being stored in the magazine at Beacon Hill.
By this time in 1888, more modern and permanent breech loading gun emplacements were in the developing stages to enhance the Fort Macaulay battery and the building of a new battery at Fort Rodd Hill. It appears that the Brother’s Island battery was then soon abandoned rather than being rebuilt and remains today covered in brush, protected by “No Trespassing” signs.
EXPLORING “OLD BUNKERS” AT THE ESQUIMALT DOCKYARD
While researching the history of Submarine Mining and Defence Electric Light systems during the pre WW 1 era of the Victoria Esquimalt Coast Defence fortifications, I discovered “Old Bunkers” shown on plans of the Esquimalt Dockyard south of Duntze Head along the shoreline. Google Earth revealed some structures as well as the following reports: Stevenson and Kellogg - DND Building Study (1974); Ron Lovatt – History of Submarine Mining and Boom Defences in Esquimalt Harbour 1893 – 1938; 1974; Nelson Oliver - Heritage Building Study (1982); Ron Lovatt – History of the Defence of Victoria and Esquimalt 1899 – 1906 (1983); FHBRO Report 89-202 - Dockyard (1989); FHBRO Report 89-203 Signal Hill (1989); Byron Taylor - Submarine Mining At Esquimalt 1865 – 1906, and Roger Sarty – The Maritme Defence of Canada (1996).
There was minimal official documentation found on the structures as they were within War Department Encroachment areas created in 1893 dedicated for use by the British Army Artillery and Engineering units. These intrusive “encroachments” per se meant the War Department held the jurisdiction and not the Royal Navy; records were deemed classified and apparently destroyed at some point in time. In 1903 there were three encroachment areas while a fourth was added in 1904. Further researching through Histories of Coast Artillery and Submarine Mining in the British Army, Canada’s Bastions of Empire by Bryan Elson and Barry Gough’s Royal Navy and the Northwest Coast of North America, confirmed the involvement by the War Department. Richard Linzey of the BC Heritage Branch also provided his interpretation of the remains and plans sourced from the CFB Esquimalt Base Museum indicated locations of the structures. The Base Museum also contributed their History of the 48th Submarine Mining Company, Royal Engineers. All the troops involved in the submarine mining establishment and searchlight deployments at the Dockyard and Signal Hill resided at Work Point Barracks during the 1899 – 1906 era. Coincidently, troops in the British “Army Ordnance Corps” who were stationed at Signal Hill resided in the brick buildings astride Esquimalt Road. The Royal Engineer’s Journal of January 1, 1903 earned a descriptive account of the Esquimalt Station and the Daily Colonist of June 29, 1902 (9) “Defenders of the Pacific Gateway,” includes photographs of the garrison of “Royal Corps,” Work Point Barracks and Fort Macaulay, along with a history and evolution of the Pacific Defences to date.
Finally, three field trips were undertaken to actually visit and photograph the sites, thank you to the Base Museum’s Clare Sharpe for supporting this quest and being part of the “field crew.” Other members of the group, author and historian Barry Gough, Richard Linzey of BC Heritage Branch, my friend Ellis Meads, a retired civil engineer who has family ties to this area, along with Scott and Laurie Johnson of Toad Hollow Photography and myself. Exploring the sites made identification of the structures conclusive and revealed that modifications had been made for WW 2 in some cases while the original intention of the systems could be visualized as the structures are quite in-tact. Each time we went there another bit of information was recorded while other questions were raised as the “history lesson” began to unfold and new discoveries appeared. Low tide on the third visit afforded views and access from the beach.
Starting near the top of the high ground is the Officer Commanding Submarine Mining (O.C.S.M.) Observing Station (built by April 1900 and where firing of the 500 lb Observation Mines was controlled), once accessible via stairs and a pathway blasted through rock from the cluster of buildings that was the operational control of the submarine mining system and searchlight installations, and where building DY 260 (Henderson Building) is situated today. The pathway is closed off since the buildings: DY 31 (Test Room, built by November 1900 where continuity and switching were monitored) DY 32 (Engine Room, built in 1899 which provided power for the minefield and the defence electric lights # 3 & 4) DY 33 (Unknown) and DY 34 (Oil Stores, built in 1900) were razed in 1994. The four buildings were designed and built by the Royal Engineers, likely 2/44 Fortress Company which was associated with the 48th Submarine Mining Company from 1900 to 1906. Armoured cables from the four building cluster to the Observing Station are visible on the ground at one point along the pathway while a hand railing still leads the way along the top of the ridge. Telephone communication systems had been installed by June 1903 while prior to that communication and messaging was by flags, lamp signalling or messenger.
Part way down the hill seaward in a south westerly direction is the O.C.S.M. Fighting Station (built by December 1902 which was the fighting post for the Officer Commanding Submarine Mining). This bunker is spacious, has westerly and northerly vantages through horizontal observation slots with room for a chart table also referred to as the “control room.” This is where the 100 lb electro-contact mines’ circuitry terminated and was controlled by closing or enabling the circuits.
Further down the hill and slightly toward Black Rock are two concrete cairns or “mast sockets.” These cairns had hinged cast iron caps (War Department - WD and arrow) which covered the hole in which staves were placed to assist in the alignment of the minefield. These particular two line up with Fisgard Lighthouse it was noticed. There are others in various locations around Esquimalt Harbour and at Rodd Hill.
Just above the shoreline below the Fighting Station we discovered a concrete bunker with a concreted channel to low water containing a communications submarine cable to Fort Rodd Hill. This bunker is a WW 2 emplacement with a steel door and houses the communication system from three locations at higher ground with cross connections, protection equipment and transition to the submarine cable. Tagged are cables # 3 and 4 uphill. This is quite similar to the concrete vault below the Lower Battery at Fort Rodd Hill at beach level which also houses land cables and splice transitions to submarine cabling and connects to Albert Head, Duntze Head and Fort Macaulay. At Fort Macaulay the vault is located at Fleming Beach beside Buxton Green, and has a familiar concrete channel to low water containing three cables, one to Saxe Point, one to the Dockyard and one to Fort Rodd Hill. Two are armoured cables and the third one is a lead cable. The concrete channel is formally called a “cable cut and hood.”
The above three Duntze Head structures (Observing Station, Fighting Station and Cable Vault) and the cairns, are all within the bounds of the War Department Encroachment Area # 1. To the south, WD Encroachment area # 2 contains the Black Rock Battery, which was the Examination Battery by name and is a description of its function at the entrance to Esquimalt harbour.
Proceeding in a northerly direction along the shoreline, amassed are numerous concrete blocks with large chain link anchors placed by appearance to prevent erosion of the bank below the Admiral’s house. This is likely the location of the “Shore End Box” or “Connecting Pit” which was the transition point between the land cables and the submarine mining cables; however, it was not evident along the shoreline. History of these concrete blocks is to be determined; there are a couple of ideas, one being they were anchors for the WW 2 boom defence across Esquimalt Harbour.
Further northerly along the shore is the Defence Electric Light bunker (built by June 1902) with two sets of steel doors facing the shoreline. This bunker was the searchlight location for the original Esquimalt Harbour defence and housed two lights, # 3 and 4, dating back to 1900 and is within the WD Encroachment area # 4. In WW 2, this bunker housed searchlight # 8 and possibly # 9 as part of the seventeen searchlight locations from Mary Hill around to Clover Point. # 9 may have been at Black Rock but not confirmed. Searchlights # 1 and 2 in defence of Esquimalt Harbour circa 1900 were located at Fort Rodd Hill and were later renumbered # 6 and 7 for WW 2 as part of the coastal defence system. The War Department Encroachment area # 3 housed the Duntze Head Battery where a sign board on the site explains the encroachment areas and the Duntze Head Battery as it was in 1903. A walk about provides the impression of harbour protection.
A trip to Fort Rodd Hill will now have to follow with this particular focus as it was closely associated in defence of Esquimalt Harbour with the Submarine Mining and Defence Electric Light systems at Duntze Head from 1893 to World War 2. Then on the list is a trip to see what structures remain of the Submarine Mining Establishment where the Hood Building is situated and a closer look at the abandoned magazine (SH 542) on the hill above at the cliff edge of Signal Hill. This precinct of buildings was the “support depot” for the submarine mining operations protecting Esquimalt Harbour as compared to the “operative precinct” outside the harbour entrance at Duntze head and southerly along the coastline.
According to Fort Rodd Hill historians, there is no actual evidence that the minefield was in place during the years 1899 to 1906, however it was certainly in staged readiness including the shore installations and would have taken two days to be in place if it was deemed necessary as a reaction for the defence of Esquimalt Harbour. Roger Sarty states that the Engineers were ready to lay the submarine minefields and Ron Lovatt’s 1974 history concurs. The Daily Colonist article of March 8, 1905 (8) however states that the mines were being raised for shipping away upon the dismantling of the station.
Captain Frederick Percival Trench RN
On a rocky knoll above Duntze Head in the Dockyard at Esquimalt stands an obscure obelisk monument near the Flag Staff and anchor. This monument is a tribute to Captain F P Trench of the Royal Navy. He was Captain of HMS Royal Arthur, the flagship of the Pacific Station at the time, and while off the coast of Mexico in May of 1895 he died suddenly and was buried at sea. This story is told in an article published in the British Colonist on May 21, 1895, page 6.
H.M.S. “Royal Arthur” Back From the South - Captain Trench Dies at Sea
The Flagship Meets the “Hyacinth” With Disabled Propeller and Tows Her In
The flagship Royal Arthur returned early Sunday afternoon from Corinto, where in company with the Satellite and Wild Swan she enforced Great Britain’s demand for $75,000 indemnity for the insolent treatment by Nicaragua of the British deputy consul and other citizens. This little episode was of course a welcome change for the Jack tars from the usual monotonous cruise, but after all there was not a great deal of excitement, with the exception of once or twice, when it seemed as if an armed collision might take place with the troops of the little republic. The Royal Arthur has been away from here since November 3, when she sailed for Acapulco; after a stay there of six weeks she cruised along the coast, touching at Callao, Coquimbo and Valparaiso, and also at Juan Fernandez Island. Finally, early in April, she lay at Panama waiting for the settlement of the Nicaraguan difficulty. As President Zelaya would not come to terms, the ships were ordered to Corinto as an additional argument in Britain’s favor. On April 22 the Royal Arthur, Satellite and Wild Swan, the last a screw sloop of 1,130 tons, commissioned at Davenport December 6, and despatched for the Pacific station, sailed into Corinto harbor and took up their position in front of the town. Corinto is a small place, not much better than a village, but is the seaport for the capital, Managun, situated further inland. Corinto, as everyone who has followed the course of events there knows, is on an island and is connected with the mainland by a fine bridge. There were 100 soldiers in Corinto when the fleet appeared, but they speedily took to the woods as the four or five seven-pounder guns they possessed were not very formidable weapons to oppose to the big guns of the warships.
On next day Commander Stokes went ashore and presented his despatches, the President being given to understand that the ships were there strictly on business, and urgent business at that. On the 25th, when the Nicaraguans became convinced that they would have to pay up or allow the British to take possession of Corinto, they secretly as they imagined, dismounted a seven-pounder that was in position near the lighthouse, and placing it in their revenue cutter covered it over with gravel so as to hide it. The same day, Senor G. Bravo, a high official of the government, came off to the Admiral and tried unsuccessfully to get an extension of time.
On April 27, under cover of the guns of the fleet, a force of 300 men were landed and occupied the town; the Union Jack was hoisted, and Captain Trench of the Royal Arthur was made governor. Then only 30 men were left to guard the town, though a good lookout was kept on the bridge approaches and the structure itself covered by the guns of the Satellite. The occupation was conducted so satisfactorily that the signal came from the flagship: “The Admiral is much pleased at the very satisfactory manner in which the occupation of the town was conducted this morning; the punctuality, steadiness and general appearance of the men reflected great credit on all concerned.”
The Nicaraguan forces to the number of 2,000 were posted behind a gravel ridge on the mainland, and it was for a time thought that they would make an attack. On April 30, as an extra precaution, the guards were doubled, and the metals of the railway gun cotton was placed in mines to give a decidedly warm reception should the Nicaraguans attempt to cross the bridge. Three officers of the fleet in plain clothes ventured too near the enemy’s line, and before they could retreat an armoured train passed them on the railway, stopped and a body of soldiers jumped off and surrounded the officers, who however were released through the good offices of the interpreter. The men from the fleet got along very well with the inhabitants of Corinto, and had strict orders to treat everyone kindly. It was found, however, that by some hidden influence, the storekeepers were prevailed upon to refuse to sell goods to the British. This resulted in the arrest of a man named Casamira, formerly mayor of the town, and a man of great influence. He had gone about intimidating the storekeepers by saying he would have them executed when the British left, if any provisions were sold to the invaders. No trouble of this kind was experienced afterwards. After the settlement of the trouble the Satellite was sent to sea on May 4, the occupation of the town terminating that day and the railway and telegraph lines having been repaired. The next day the Royal Arthur recognized the Nicaraguan flag by firing 21 guns, and she and the Wild Swan started north for Esquimalt. The Wild Swan was towed to sea and is coming under sail as she has no coal; the Satellite is under sail for the same reason. The Royal Arthur, however, carries a large amount of fuel and had plenty to bring her home. The others will coal at Acapulco.
A very regrettable occurrence was the death of Captain Trench, of the Royal Arthur, on May 10, when off the Mexican coast. He died of gastritis after an illness of 48 hours, and as it was in the tropics he was buried at sea with naval honors the same evening, in Lat. 19 d, 41 m N., Long. 106 d, 3 m W., off Cape Corrientes. Frederick Percival Trench was born March 27, 1849, and was therefore 46 years of age. Among his services he was 1st Lieutenant of the Turquoise during the military and naval operations in the Eastern Sudan at Suakim 1884 – 5; he received the Egyptian Medal and the Khedive’s bronze star. He took part in the Burmese conquest in 1885 – 6, was present at the fighting at Minhia, and at the capture of Mandaly. In command of the launch Kathleen he assisted in the successful cutting out of a Burmese war vessel from under the guns of the forts at Minhia. For this he was promoted and mentioned in naval and military dispatches. For the Barmah campaign he received the medal and clasp.
The vacancy caused by Capt. Trench’s death has been temporarily filled by Commander Stokes, acting captain; Senior Lieut. W. Nicholson being made acting commander, and Lieut. Hornby Senior Lieutenant. The Royal Arthur touched one place on the way up, at Monterey, on May 16. In tow the Royal Arthur brought H.M.S. Hyacinth, which after a cruise among the Pacific Islands put into Valparaiso on March 10 with her propeller injured. Not having a mechanical diver this could not be repaired, and the Royal Arthur meeting the Hyacinth at Valparaiso towed her out to sea and sent her north under sail, consequently the Hyacinth has been 57 days making the trip. The Royal Arthur sighted her yesterday morning outside Cape Flattery and took her in tow.
The monument is inscribed on two sides:
This monument is well intact after 121 years but to have the inscribing blackened for clarity would be an enhancing feature for the curious of heart of CFB Esquimalt’s Naval Historica. There also resides on the wall in the Chapel at the Veteran’s Cemetery, a plaque dedicated to the memory of Captain Frederick Percival Trench; Buried at Sea.
Other historical “adventures” can be seen along the shoreline between Black Rock and Duntze Head. “Old bunkers” referenced on plans are building remains of the Submarine Mining and Searchlight installations dating back to 1900 within the “War Office Encroachments” of that era.
ST. PAUL’S ANGLICAN CHURCH
In 2005 an application was presented to the FHBRO (Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office) requesting a heritage designation. Contents (and history) of the church is contained in the application Ref. 2005-101.
The summary report from the committee is as follows:
In committee Mr. Saunders explained that Saint Paul’s Anglican Church was built in 1866 on a site what is now HMC Dockyard, and has evolved through a series of expansions to serve the need of its civilian congregation and the naval and garrison personnel stationed nearby. Saint Paul’s is a one-and-ne-half story, gable-roofed, generally rectangular building, designed in the Gothic-Revival tradition of British Columbia frame churches of the period. In his publication, Sacred Places: British Columbia’s Early Churches, historian Barry Downs describes the interior of Saint Paul’s as containing “some of the finest glass windows and oak carvings in the Province.” The site nominated by Canon Andrew Gates, Rector of Saint Paul’s, in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the congregation (founded in 1856.)
The committee observed that while Saint Paul’s is a good example of the Ecclesiological Gothic - Revival style of British Columbia churches of the second half of the 19th century, it does not compare favourably with other similarly scaled Gothic-Revival frame churches of the period in Canada, and that were designated for reasons of national historic significance, for example Christ Church National Historic Site of Canada in Hope, British Columbia and Christ Church Anglican National Historic Site of Canada in Maugerville, New Brunswick.
The committee also noted that a number of churches designated as national historic sites have had past military associations as “garrison churches,” but that these associations are with active garrisons, regiments, or other military/naval establishments of potential national significance, for example St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Chambly, Quebec, or St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. On the basis of the information before them, the Committee and the Board were not prepared to recommend the designation of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church.
Does this sound familiar; it doesn’t meet the criteria of an Ottawa committee when it comes to west coast interests and which historically trails that of the eastern provinces. Credit is due to Rev. Andrew Gates for his excellent effort in trying to have a national heritage designation in place for the 150th anniversary of the parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul, in 2016.
Accordingly there are also a number of versions of how and why the church was relocated to 1379 Esquimalt Road in 1904. A confirmed version seems to be desperately sought after.
The historical recollection of Arthur Currie is ever broadening in its scope, and it is hoped that in the near future the Bay Street Armouries in Victoria, the home of the Canadian Scottish Regiment and the 5th Field Regiment, both units in which Arthur Currie was connected, will be renamed in his honour.
ST. PAUL’S NAVAL AND GARRISON CHURCH
Today the church and the community celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of the church. Numerous guests that attended the service and the social after were the Lt. Governor, military representatives, civilian dignitaries and past and present members of the congregation.
There are a number of anniversary publications produced by the church, a 60th, 100th, 125th are still in circulation in the community. There are also numerous flags or colours hanging in the church from various eras. Included is a single colour placed in 1975 from the “Old Contemptibles Association” and a Red Ensign placed in March of 1965 during the period when the First Battalion Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada were stationed at Work Point Barracks and the church was still called St. Paul’s Naval and Garrison Church. Previously from 1894 to 1906 St. Saviour’s in Victoria West was the Garrison Church for the British Imperial forces stationed at Work Point Barracks. A couple of dedication plaques remain on the walls inside this former church. Reference to the First Battalion PPCLI colours placed in 1959 and relocated in 1991 is to follow.