Building for the future commenced in earnest in Esquimalt during the eighteen-eighties and carried on into the nineties with increased momentum. At the Naval Dockyard large red brick buildings took shape and red brick boundary walls, giving an air of solidity and permanence to the Establishment. The final touch was the placing of the picturesque Bell Post of timber at the main entrance in 1901, the bell to be rung in case of fire. Across the harbor on the present site of H.M.C.S. Naden, permanent residences and hospital wards replaced the old wooden structures taken over from the Royal Engineers. Work Point Barracks and Signal Hill Establishment and quarters, built in the nineties for the Army, added their quota to the popular red brick construction of the day. In the eighties the long-talked-of and much-needed Drydock was finally built. During the early days of the Royal Navy at Esquimalt, drydocking and ship-repairing facilities did not exist north of Mare Island Navy Yard at San Francisco. Yet ships frequently came to grief on the many uncharted rocks and reefs of this North Pacific coast. The two survey ships, Plumper and Hecate, and the Termagant and Charybdis, were among those that narrowly escaped disaster. The damaged bow of the latter was repaired by her crew with the aid of an ingenious cofferdam. The others had to go to Mare Island at great expense to the Admiralty.
In 1867 Rear-Admiral Hastings had ordered a Board of Officers to report on the best site for a drydock. They recommended Lang Cove, should borings prove satisfactory. Burrard Inlet and Nanaimo had been suggested. Work on the Drydock had not begun when, on July 20th, 1871, British Columbia entered Confederation and became a Province of the Dominion of Canada. Its importance, however, was recognized for in addition to the building of a transcontinental railway, the construction of a first-class Graving Dock at Esquimalt was included in the Terms of Union. After much delay and many starts and stops the Drydock was built close to the Naval Dockyard. It was to have been subsidized by the Imperial and Dominion Governments and built by contract by the Provincial Government but was finally taken over and completed by the Federal authorities. Its dimensions were 457 feet by 57 feet, with a depth of 27 feet. The Old Drydock, or Naval Drydock, as it is described locally, was officially opened on July 20th, 1887, twenty years after it was first suggested. The ceremony was attended by the Lieutenant-Governor the Honorable Hugh Nelson, Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Culme Seymour whose flagship, H.M.S. Triumph, was at anchor in the harbor, his staff and a distinguished company. The blue ribbon stretched across the entrance to the Drydock was cut by Miss Kathleen O'Reilly, the lovely young daughter of Judge Peter O'Reilly, a contemporary of Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie, and, like him, a successful dispenser of British justice in the wild mining districts of the Kootenays and the Cariboo.
The first ship to enter the Drydock was H.M.S. Cormorant, the tenth of that name, her entrance and drydocking being part of the ceremony. Another great need, that of a shipbuilding and ship repairing plant close to the Drydock, was supplied in 1896 by William Fitzherbert Bullen and his brother, Henry Frederick Bullen. They established the Esquimalt Marine Railway Company in Lang Cove. Two years later, with the opening of a branch in Vancouver, the name was changed to the B.C. Marine Railway Company. Two small ships with interesting careers were built by the B.C. Marine Railway Company at Esquimalt, the Lillooet and the Princess Maquinna. The Lillooet was built for the Dominion Hydrographic Survey. After a long and useful service with that department she was sold to the Pacific Salvage Company and her name changed to Salvage Chieftain. When the call went out during World War II for more salvage vessels to help in rescue work in the dangerous waters around the British Isles, the staunch little Salvage Chieftain was sent. Having crossed the Atlantic and back in safety the Salvage Chieftain, the old Lillooet, returned to her rescue work on this coast. The Canadian Pacific Steamship, Princess l\-1aquinna, was built by the Bullens at Esquimalt for service on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. For many years in fair weather and foul she has plied that stormy coast which is open for most of its length to the rollers of the Pacific Ocean. Fitzherbert Bullen married Annie Amelia Bushby, a granddaughter of Sir James Douglas.
They built "Oakdene" on Esquimalt Road on ground surrounding a sunny slope where young Bullen, then twenty-one, travelling on foot from Esquimalt Harbor to Victoria on the day of his arrival, sat down to rest. Sitting there and admiring the lovely view across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the snow-clad Olympics he said to himself "Some day I'll own this." The B.C. Marine Railway Company was sold in January, 1914, to Sir Alfred Yarrow, founder of the famous British shipbuilding yards on the Clyde. His second son, Norman Yarrow, took over the presidency and active management of Yarrows Limited, Esquimalt, whose record of achievement during two World Wars is known the world over among men connected with the sea ships. The stationing of regular troops on this coast dated from the day, November 17th, 1887, when "C" Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, under Major James Peters, arrived in Victoria and went into temporary quarters in the old Agricultural Building at Beacon Hill. With the building of permanent barracks at Work Point in 1890, they moved to Esquimalt where they completed six years' service under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Josiah Greenwood Holmes. For years the question of which should pay for the necessary land defenses at Esquimalt was tossed back and forth between British and Canadian authorities. Finally they agreed in 1893 to share equally the cost, amounting to about $300,000. Britain was to supply the garrison while Canada provided for their pay and allowances. "C" Battery was relieved in May, 1893, by an Imperial Garrison consisting of one company of Royal Marine Artillery and a company and a half of Royal Engineers, a total of about 350 officers and men. One great advantage of having Marines in barracks was that replacements could be supplied from the warships in the Harbor. Other Imperial troops relieved the original garrison from time to time until, in 1906, Canada took over her own military defenses at Esquimalt.
Considerable financial benefit came to Victoria and Esquimalt at this time from the Naval and Military forces. About $800,000 were spent annually for the maintenance of the Navy and approximately $150,000 for the Army. Construction of one of the oldest golf courses in British Columbia, the Macaulay Golf Course, commenced in October, 1893, soon after the arrival of the Royal Marine Artillery. Two golf enthusiasts among the officers of the R.M.A.'s were responsible for these links, Captain (later Colonel) George Edward Barnes and Lieutenant Frederick Templer. During the change over from Colonial to Provincial status, the flagship on this station was H.M.S. Zealous_. one of the first armor-clad warships in the Royal Navy. The former close and friendly relations between the Navy and the Colonial Governors and officials was to become a thing of the past. Communications from the Admirals had now to go to Ottawa. From the time that Admiral Farquhar flew his flag .in the Zealous to the end of the Royal Naval regime at Esquimalt, eight flagships came to anchor in Esquimalt Harbor.
Some bore famous names in naval history. They were the Repulse, Shah, Triumph, Swiftsure, Warspite, Royal Arthur, Imperieuse, and Grafton. The Warspite, a predecessor of the famous "Old Lady," had two commissions as flagship of the Pacific Station. The first was from 1890 to 1893 as flagship of Rear-Admiral Charles Frederick Hotham. The Warspite was here again from 1899 to 1902, flying the flag of Rear Admiral Lewis Anthony Beaumont and, in 1900, that of Rear-Admiral Andrew Kennedy Bickford. While Admiral Bickford was Commander-in-Chief news came of the death on January 2:3nd, 1901, of Queen Victoria. H.M.S. Imperieuse, flagship of Rear-Admiral Henry St. Leger Bury Palliser, was taken on a strange jaunt by the Admiral, reminiscent of the days when the capture of Spanish treasure ships was one of the recognized occupations of ships of the British Navy. In October, 1897, Admiral Palliser took the Imperieuse on a treasure hunting expedition to Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica. The mythical buried treasure was not discovered. After his retirement from the Navy the doughty Admiral made two more attempts in private vessels to uncover the treasure without success.
Two outstanding naval personalities, one of the First World War, the other of World War II, knew Esquimalt well in their junior officer days. The first was Lord Charles Beresford who came here as a midshipman in H.M.S. Clio in 1864. The next year he transferred to the Tribune which was on this station for the second time under the command of Captain Lord Gilford. Receiving his promotion to sub-lieutenant while at Esquimalt, he was appointed to the flagship, H.M.S. Sutlej. Young Beresford was a wild youngster whose pranks caused much amusement in the community and at times considerable concern to his senior officers. He was very fond of riding but not of riding the piebald pony usually hired to the middies. One day he decided to paint the pony black. Unfortunately for the success of the scheme the rain came pouring down and young Beresford rode back to his ship with, black paint streaming off the pony and on to his clothes, much to the amusement of the ship's company.
Baron Beresford's controversy with Admiral Fisher before the First World War is well-known. In his book, "The Betrayal," published in 1912, he ,bitterly opposed Fisher's plan for the reorganization of the Royal Navy. While the Tribune was on this station her captain, Richard James Meade, Viscount Gilford, met and fell in love with Elizabeth Henrietta, eldest daughter of Governor Kennedy, the third and last Colonial Governor of Vancouver Island. They were married in 1867, after the Kennedys returned to England. The great personality of the Second World War who knew Esquimalt was Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. Dudley Pound was a young torpedo lieutenant in H.M.S. Grafton, the last flagship to serve on the Pacific Station, Esquimalt. One day while his ship was anchored in the Harbor, a stoker fell overboard. Without a moment's hesitation Lieutenant Pound sprang into the water. and rescued the man.
Upon Admiral Sir Dudley Pound devolved the monumental task of directing the combined naval operations of the Second World War. In the early naval days Coburg Peninsula or Esquimalt Spit was used as the Naval Rifle Range. With the introduction of magazine rifles with a longer range, the move was made in 1896 to Goose Spit at Comox. Albert Head was named by Captain Kellett of H.M.S. Herald. Saxe Point, Coburg Peninsula and Gotha Point, the small point to the westward of Fisgard I sland, were names given by Lieutenant-Commander Wood, H.M.S. Pandora, to complete the title of Queen Victoria's Consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Captain Kellett gave to the roadstead between Fort Victoria and Albert Head, the apt name, the Royal Roads. Esquimalt was the first home of the Dominion Meteorological Service on this coast. On July 1st, 1890, Mr. E. Baynes Read opened the station in his home outside the sea end of the Dockyard wall. With the drawing in, closer to home waters, of the warships of the Royal Navy and the decision of the Dominion Government to take over the Naval and Military Defenses of Canada, the ships of the R.N. bade farewell to one of its most popular bases, the Pacific Station at Esquimalt. Only the Shearwater and the survey ship, Egeria, were left on guard. They were joined in 1908 by H.M.S. Algerine. The care of all Admiralty property including the three ships and the Dockyard, as to upkeep, repairs, stores, etc., was taken over by George Phillips who was appointed Admiralty Agent in 1905. Mr. Phillips' long years of service at the Naval Dockyard had commenced when he arrived from the Admiralty in 1894. H e later transferred to the Canadian Service as Civil Manager of the Dockyard.
Not until May 4th, 1910, was the Canadian Navy born, with the passing by the Dominion Parliament. "The Naval Service of Canada Act." Two Great Wars have swept over the world with devastating results since Canada took over her own naval defenses. The contribution to victory of the young Royal Canadian Navy in the First World War was small but heroic, limited by its size and not its spirit. To do justice to the epic story of the growth of Canada's Navy in the second world conflagration from a tiny but loyal nucleus of brave officers and men to the strong, efficient and valiant Navy that we Canadians are proud to claim as our own, would take volumes and the pen of genius. History will tell that tale.