The naval scene in Esquimalt was soon to change. The single frigate lying peacefully at anchor in the harbor was to be replaced by a fleet of warships of the Royal Navy. Naval sights and sounds were to become the order of the day in the small village that had grown up close to the Naval Dockyard. Woven into the fabric of the daily lives of the villagers would be the piping of the bos'n's whistle, the sound of the bugles at sunset as "colors were lowered," parties of liberty men going ashore, an Admiral's flag at the masthead of his flagship, and the strains of a naval band floating across the waters of the harbor. The San Juan affair brought an increase in naval activity to Esquimalt. The quarrel over possession of San Juan and other islands in the Gulf of Georgia, was a direct result of the vague wording of the Oregon Treaty. In describing the boundary line beyond the mainland, it ran as follows : "the line of boundary between the territories of the United States and those of Her Britannic Majesty shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca's Straits, to the Pacific Ocean." The British claimed "the said channel" to be Rosario Strait and therefore that all islands west of that strait belonged to her, including the largest, San Juan Island.
The Americans, on the other hand, interpreted "the said channel" to mean the Canal de Haro and laid claim to all islands, large and small, east of Haro Strait. A joint British and American Commission was appointed in 1856 to investigate and try to settle this disturbing question. Captain James Charles Prevost was named First British Commissioner. He arrived at Esquimalt on June 12th, 1857, in command of H.M.S. Satellite, a screw corvette, 21 guns, 1,462 tons, 400 horse-power. Captain George Henry Richards, the Second British Commissioner, followed in his slower survey ship, H.M.S. Plumper, an auxiliary steam sloop, barque rigged, 484 tons, 60 horse-power. The Plumper did not reach Esquimalt until November 9th. U.S.S. Active, a revenue and survey vessel, the first naval steamer to navigate Active Pass, in 1855, was used by the American Commission. This passage was named by her captain, Lieutenant-Commander James Alden. after his ship. The Commission did much useful survey work but adjourned without agreement over the water boundary. For years the dispute raged leaving the ownership of San Juan Island unsettled. At last, in 1872, the German Kaiser Wilhelm was chosen as arbitrator and he decided in favor of the American claim. Many of Her Majesty's ships of war were ordered to Esquimalt during this trouble. In 1859 no less than five warships made their base here, H.M.S. Ganges, Captain John Fulford, flagship of Rear-Admiral Robert Lambert Baynes, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station from 1857 to 1860; the Tribune, Captain Geoffrey Phipps Hornby; the Pylades, Captain Michael De Courcy; the Satellite.
Captain Prevost, and the Plumper, Captain Richards. The three small hospital buildings, locally known as the "Crimean huts," had been taken over in 1857, after much argument with the Admiralty re the cost, by Captain Prevost of the Satellite, to be used for a hospital and stores. The year after officers of the Plumper made use of part of one of the huts as a draughting-room, and in 1859 Assistant-Surgeon Samuel Campbell, R.N., who was in charge of the hospital, used the other half as his residence. Several years later, another story was added to this same sturdy building to make a residence for the Naval Storekeeper and in 1873 it was enlarged to make room for the wife and seven children of Mr. James Henry Innes, successor to Paymaster Spark as naval storekeeper, and the first civil officer in charge of the Dockyard. This house was torn down in 1885 to be replaced by the red brick "Dockyard House" or "Admiral's House" as it is now called. The other two staunch little buildings survived and were used as offices until 1936 and 1939 respectively. Had it not been for the urgency of wartime construction, the last one of the "Crimean huts" might have been preserved because of its historic interest.
The Naval Hospital was moved in 1862 from Duntze Head to the buildings at the head of Skinner's Cove, previously used by the detachment of Royal Engineers at work on the western section of the Boundary Line. On leaving for England when their work was finished, their buildings, with ten acres of land the present site of H.M.C.S. Naden, were transferred to the Navy for use as a hospital. Esquimalt was not recognized by the Admiralty as a permanent naval base until 1865. Headquarters of the Pacific Squadron were still afloat in Valparaiso Harbor. Wars and revolutions in Chili and Peru and the presence of the Royal Spanish Navy in South American waters made it necessary for ships of Her Majesty's Navy to be at hand to protect British interests. News of the creation of the Royal Naval Establishment of Esquimalt on June 29th, 1865, was received with rejoicing by both officers and men of the Pacific Squad- 103 squadron. They welcomed the change from the heat and discomfort of their Valparaiso headquarters aboard the old frigate, Nereus, to the pleasant surroundings and temperate climate of the new base. Very gradually a small community of naval folk and a few civilians had grown up outside the Dockyard. A schoolhouse was built in 1859, which was used on Sundays for church services.
With the establishment of the Naval Base, this tiny sea-girt village began to expand. Houses were built along both sides of the narrow neck of land between the Dockyard and Signal Hill. Linked closely with the Navy in Esquimalt since the very early days was St. Paul's Church. A grant from the Admiralty of £100 in 1866 made the building of the church possible. The proviso that men belonging to H.M. Naval Yard and Navy be allotted sittings, was easily carried out as the bulk of the congregation were naval people. The original site of St. Paul's was on a level spot close to the sea, on the south side of the road near the foot of Signal Hill, on land donated by the Hon. Donald Fraser, a member of the Legislative Council of Vancouver Island. On August 30th, 1866, the foundation stone of St. Paul's was laid by Mrs. Denman, wife of Rear-Admiral Joseph Denman, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station. The Admiral and Mrs. Denman had been enthusiastic supporters of Paymaster Sidney Spark of the Dockyard in his efforts to interest the Admiralty in the building of the church.
The stone-laying ceremonies created a stir in the small communities of Esquimalt and Victoria. Warships at anchor in the harbor, the flagship H.M.S. Sutlej, H.M.S. Scout, the gunboat Forward and U.S.S. Saginaw, were dressed for the occasion. The procession to the church site was headed by the Sutlej band and a naval guard of honor. It included dignitaries of church and state. Among them were the Right Reverend George Hills, first Bishop of Columbia, Dean Cridge who had been chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company, the Rev. Alexander Garrett, first rector of St. Paul's and later Bishop of Texas, His Excellency, the Hon. Arthur E. Kennedy, successor to Sir James Douglas as Governor of Vancouver Island, Chief Justice Needham, the Admiral and his staff, captains of the warships in the harbor, officers and ratings, and a group of school children. From time to time the Admiralty made further grants to St. Paul's. In 1873 they undertook to pay the rector £50 a year. A sum of £50 was allotted in 1876 toward repairing damage to the church caused by a heavy gale and in 1878 they arranged for the free transportation of an organ bought in England. The Admiralty's £50 went toward the complete restoration of the church in 1879.
Their contribution to the rector's stipend was increased in 1898 from £50 to £ 75. The little wooden church, with its simplicity and dignity, its beautifully proportioned interior and atmosphere of quiet reverence, when finished and consecrated in December, 1866, was a worthy memorial to its architect, Thomas Trounce, and its builders. The year of the building was the year in which a Royal Proclamation declared that: "the Colony of Vancouver Island shall be and the same is hereby united with the Colony of British Columbia, and thenceforth these two colonies shall form and be one colony with the name British Columbia." Risk of damage to the church from heavy gales, with the sea so close on the one hand, and from the firing of heavy guns atop Signal Hill on the other hand, led to the removal of St. Paul's. In 1904 it was moved bodily up and over Signal Hill to its present site on Esquimalt Road at the corner of Grafton Street, on property that had belonged to "The Hermitage,"the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Gillespie and their large family, all but one of whom were boys who later achieved fame as athletes and good citizens of Victoria.
On August 30th, 1904, a bride of many years before whose wedding had been the second performed in the church, Mrs. Charles E . Pooley, laid the foundation stone of St. Paul's in its new position. The original churchyard of St. Paul's was not around the little church but across a narrow strip of water on Brothers Island. Here, to the lapping of the waves they loved, some fifty officers and men were laid to rest. When the Second Russian War scare led to the construction of earthworks and gun emplacements along the shoreline from Duntze Head to Beacon Hill, one battery was placed on Brothers Island. Before construction started, in April, 1877, the remains of the naval men were taken up and reburied in the present Naval Cemetery near Skinner's Cove. Land for this burial ground had been bought in 1868 by the Admiralty from the Hudson's Bay Company. To enter St. Paul's Church today is to be immersed in the annals of the sea. Its mural tablets record sea tragedies. A lifebuoy hangs near the chancel rail, the name H.M.S. Condor inscribed upon it. Picked up near Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this lifebuoy was the only trace ever found of the Condor, which sailed out of Esquimalt Harbor on December 3rd, 1901, into the teeth of a howling gale, never to be heard of again.
An heroic but unsuccessful attempt to rescue a shipwrecked crew in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, and the death by drowning in the attempt of Lieutenant Gerald Heyman and seven of the crew of H .M.S. Satellite on September 4th, 1896, is commemorated by a brass tablet. Another sea tragedy is recalled by a memorial tablet to the Commanding Officer, officers and entire ship's company of A.P.S. Galiano, lost at sea, October 30th, 1918. Many other tablets in memory of individual officers and men from various ships of the Royal Navy on this station, Icarus, Egeria, Royal Arthur, Shearwater, Caroline, hang on the walls of the nave, also one to the memory of a group of ex-Cadets of the Royal Naval College of Canada, killed in action aboard H.M.S. Good Hope, off Coronel, November, 1914. Treasured links with the Old Land are the fine font cover, carved from the oak of an old Sussex watermill and presented to St. Paul's by the Rev. J. Denis De Vitre, a chaplain in the Royal Navy; also a gift from the village church at Minterne, Dorset, of the poppy head carvings built into the oak pulpit, carved and presented to the church by William E. A. Barclay, in memory of his father, a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral. Inscriptions on the lovely stained glass windows carry one back to the early days of Esquimalt. The triple window over the altar depicting the childhood of Christ, was the gift of Archdeacon Wright in memory of his daughter, Alice, who died in 1879, a sister of the third rector of St. Paul's. Flanking it on one side is a memorial window to Frederick Seymour who succeeded Sir James Douglas as Governor of the Colony of British Columbia.
On the other side is one to the Honourable Horace Douglas Lascelles, R.N. Governor Seymour died on board H.M.S. Sparrowhawk, June 10th, 1869, on his way back from the Skeena River where he had gone in spite of failing health, accompanied by Joseph W. Trutch, Chief Commissioner oi Lands and Works, in the Sparrowhawk to investigate trouble caused by a tribal war between the Tsimshian Indians of the Skeena and the Naas and the Haidas of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Commander the Honorable Horace Douglas Lascelles, R.N., an uncle of the late husband of the Princess Royal, died at the Naval Hospital, Esquimalt, on June 15th, 1869. Governor Seymour and Commander Lascelles were buried on the same day, June 16th, in the Naval Cemetery. Two windows in the nave of St. Paul's are linked with Esquimalt's pioneers. They are dedicated to the memory of William and Harriet Alice Fisher and to their two sons. Happy ceremonies as well as tragedies are recorded in the parish register, naval and military weddings and christenings, church parades and other festivals. Soon after the Military Barracks was built at Work Point, in 1890, St. Paul's Naval Church became St. Paul's Naval and Garrison Church and church parades of sailors and soldiers alternated.
With the introduction of Service Chaplains, grants from Headquarters have been withdrawn but so long as St. Paul's Church stands it will be a shrine to the memory of ships and men of the sea who have passed through Esquimalt, some to remain in its hallowed ground. The gunboats, those midget warships of the Royal Navy, built in large numbers during the Crimean War for service in the Baltic, made their first appearance on this station in 1860. Doubt had been expressed as to their ability to weather the stormy voyage around the Horn. However, on July 12th, 1860, convoyed by H.M.S. Ter- 1nagant, which was to relieve the Satellite, Her Majesty's gunboats, Forward and Grappler, arrived in Esquimalt Harbor. The former was under the command of Lieutenant Charles Rufus Robson, the latter, of Lieutenant Alfred Prowse Hasler Helby. Volumes could be written on the exploits of the gunboats. They were asked to do the impossible and by reason of the courage, tenacity and resource of their officers and men, generally succeeded in doing it. These little gunboats, less than 250 tons, 60 horse-power, were sent unescorted on punitive expeditions against marauding Indians, to salvage and tow large sailing vessels, and to the rescue of ships in distress on the wild, storm-tossed West Coast of Vancouver Island. They transported government officials, parties of settlers and prospectors, spars for the larger warships, lumber and building materials for naval construction.
They acted as tenders for Race Rocks and Fisgard Lighthouses, recently erected, Race Rocks being completed on December 26th, 1860, and Fisgard Light on December 1st, of the same year. They also on occasions took the Admiral and senior officers on hunting and fishing expeditions. The Northern Indians were causing much anxiety in the Colony during this period. Marauding bands of Haidas and Tsimshians on their way to and from Fort Victoria to trade, were terrifying the settlers in outlying districts around Victoria, Cowichan, Salt Spring Island and Nanaimo. They would steal, pillage and even murder. At the Fort they mixed with the very dregs of the white population to their great degradation. On one occasion in May, 1861, a large band of Haidas filling about thirty big dugouts, on their way back from Victoria, had spread a reign of terror amongst the settlers. Their canoes were laden with goods stolen from Victoria and from isolated settlers on Salt Spring Island. They had even attacked and plundered the trading schooner, Laurel, and other small vessels. The Forward, commanded by Lieutenant Robson, went in pursuit. She came up with the Indians near Cape Mudge where they were camped, their dugouts drawn up on the beach. Interpreters were sent ashore to demand. the return of the stolen property. They were met with an insolent refusal. A shot was fired from the gunboat over the Indians' heads. Whooping and yelling they fired back several volleys with their muskets.
The Forward's guns, loaded with grape-shot, were turned on a group of Haidas. The Indians returned the fire and one of the gunboat's crew was wounded. Shells then crashed into the center of the encampment. Not until their camp was destroyed, their dugouts smashed into kindling, four of the Indians killed and a number mortally wounded, did the Haidas surrender. Five of the chiefs were taken prisoner and the stolen goods recovered. A strange assortment, a quadrant, theodolite, hydrometer, and writing case, a great number of saws, hammers, planes, and other tools. and a quantity of rum, flour, calico, blankets, cotton, and silk, made up the plunder. At the trial of the Haida chiefs at Victoria, it was brought out that the attack on the Laurel was not with-out provocation. Evidence was given by "Captain Jefferson," as the principal Haida Chief of Skidegate was called, that whisky sold to the Indians was diluted with salt water. The Forward made one of her bravest rescue attempts during her first winter on this coast. The Peruvian brigantine, Florencia, outward bound from Puget Sound to Callao, loaded with lumber, was thrown on her beam ends off Cape Flattery in a heavy gale. Her captain, cook. supercargo and a passenger were drowned and her deck load swept overboard. Her timber cargo kept her afloat. She righted herself and drifted, waterlogged, into Nootka Sound. There she was anchored, pumped out and the hull found to be watertight. Word was brought to Esquimalt. The Forward went at once to the rescue. On reaching Nootka, Lieutenant Robson heard of the plight of the passengers and crew of the American brig, Consort, shipwrecked the October before in San Josef Bay, south of Cape Scott. He put out into heavy seas, collected the shipwrecked mariners and returned to Nootka to pick up the Florencia. The Forward proceeded to tow the brigantine back to Esquimalt. Unfortunately engine trouble developed and she was forced to cast off her tow. She limped back into Nootka Sound to repair her engines. The unlucky Florencia went aground in W reek Bay near Florencia Island.
The Forward was given up for lost before she got back to her Esquimalt base, both the Hecate and the Pluniper having searched for her in vain. A year and a half after he brought the Forward into Esquimalt Harbor, Lieutenant-Commander Robson died as the result of a fall from his horse while riding near Esquimalt. He was succeeded in his command by the Honorable Horace Douglas Lascelles, on this station at the time as First Lieutenant of H.M.S. Topaz. Daring, fearless and abounding in energy, Lieutenant- Commander Lascelles was the very officer to perform the work that was expected of the gunboat. Several daring punitive expeditions against Indian murderers fell to the lot of the gunboat while Lascelles was in command, including the one, in April, 1863, against the Lamalchi Indians, a branch of the Cowichan tribe, living on Kuper Island. A party of Lamalchis had brutally murdered a settler, named Frederick Marks, and his young married daughter, Caroline Harvey. Marks was moving his family and effects in two boats, from Waldron to Mayne Island. He and his daughter, in one boat, were separated from the others by a strong soueasterly blow in Plumper Sound. They landed on Saturna Island. While lighting a fire Marks was shot and his daughter chased along the shore and murdered by the Indians. News of the double murder was received with horror in Victoria and Esquimalt. Prompt action was taken. The gunboats Forward and Grappler, the paddle sloop, Delstation, and the corvette, Canieleon, were sent to scour the coastline in search of the murderers. The Forward took a prominent part in the search and finally, after bombarding and destroying the Lamalchi village on Kuper Island, secured the murderers.
Eleven men and six women, implicated in the murder, were brought to Victoria aboard the Forward for trial. Four of the Indians were convicted and hanged. This gunboat's activities were not all warlike. She played the part of Cupid's helper in transporting from Esquimalt Harbor to Victoria, on September 17th, 1862, the sixty young women from the bride ship, Tynemouth. The entire bachelor population of the colony, the great majority, lined the path leading up from the landing stage, each anxious to catch a hopeful glimpse of his possible bride-to-be. The young women had been selected by the British Columbia Emigration Society, formed in London to send to the new colony suitable young women and girls to provide wives for the lonely pioneers. The Baroness Burdett-Coutts played a leading role in the movement. Not quite so spectacular but equally useful were the activities of the gunboat Grappler. Under her commander, Lieutenant Helby, and later under Lieutenant-Commander Edmund Hope Verney, news of the Grappler appeared frequently on the pages of "The British Colonist" of that period. A card of thanks from the master of the American bark, N. S. Perkins, was printed on May 1st, 1861, thank the Admiral, Sir Thomas Maitland, flagship FLM.S. Bacchante, for help rendered during a gale, " ... for the courtesy and promptitude displayed in authorizing the valuable services of the gunboat, Grappler, which finally enabled the bark to reach her destination in safety."
Following the trouble with the Haidas in the spring of 1861, the Grappler was sent during the summer to cruise around between Salt Spring Island, Nanaimo and Cape Mudge. In August, 1862, the Grappler left for the Stikine River " to look after the interests of Her Majesty's subjects who have gone gold-hunting in that section." On December 1st, she was sent with a party of fifty settlers to Comox. On December 16th, we read of her towing the Beaver around to Esquimalt to be fitted up for her surveying expedition. The last item reported for 1862 recounts the help given by the Grappler in salvage operations on the British ship, Rosedale, beached in Ross Bay after striking on the reef off Race Rocks. The Forward had four commanders during her long commission on this station from 1860 to 1869. She was sold by public auction and ended her eventful career in the service of the Mexican Government. During a revolution in that country she was seized by rebels and burned. H.M.S. Grappler continued her useful service to the colony until June, 1868, when she too was sold by auction and was placed in the local coasting trade. The end of the Grappler was also by fire. On April 29th, 1883, near Seymour Narrows, she caught fire. Her steering ropes burned and although quite close to shore she went out of control in the strong tidal current and 72 persons, the majority of them Chinamen on their way to the northern canneries, lost their lives. In 1869 the Forward was relieved by H.M. gunboat Boxer, Lieutenant-Commander Frederick Wilbraham Egerton. She was almost twice the tonnage of the original gunboats. The Boxer carried on the work of transporting Government officials on inspection trips, among them Dr. I. Vv. Powell who had been appointed the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1872, in an attempt to settle the continued trouble with the northern Indians.
Alfred Waddington's dream of building a wagon road from the head of Bute Inlet to tap the rich gold fields of the Cariboo and to link the West with the East. had been frustrated by the murder of his road builders by Chilcotin Indians. He was now working indefatigably for the construction of a transcontinental railway instead. Parties were sent during the summer of 1872 to survey the proposed terminus at Bute Inlet. The Boxer took the survey parties and their equipment and supplies to the head of Bute Inlet. One year before the Boxer's commission on this station ended, she was joined by H .M. gunboat Rocket, Lieutenant-Commander Charles Reynolds Harris. The Rocket remained at Esquimalt from 1874 to 1882, for the last three years under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Vere Bernard Orelebar. This gunboat continued the work of policing the Indians and had a few brushes with them. However, with the appointment of Dr. Powell, a man of understanding and humanity, to superintend Indian affairs, serious troubles were growing less frequent. Dr. Powell made a number of inspection trips to Indian villages on Vancouver Island and along the coast of British Columbia aboard the gunboat. His name was given to Powell Lake by Commander Orlebar. The river and large pulp and paper town at its mouth have since been given the name, Powell River.
The Roc!?et played a part in the settlement of one of the very first strikes in British Columbia, a strike of coal miners at Nanaimo in 1877. A display of force by 80 or 90 militiamen and the sight of the Rocket in the harbor there brought the strike to an end. The names of the four gunboats have been given to certain inlets, harbors, reefs and shoals on the British Columbia coast associated with these pocket edition warships whose spirit was as big as their hulls were small. THE FL YING SQUADRON The most impressive scene in the naval pageantry oi Esquimalt Harbor before the days of sail were over, was the arrival on May 15th, 1870, of the Flying Squadron. Already at anchor in the harbor were four naval ships, Admiral Farquhar's flagship, H.M.S. Zealous, the Sparrowhawk, the Charybdis, and the Boxer. A vivid word picture of the arrival of the six ships of the Flying Squadron is given in a copy of "The British Colonist" of May 17th, of that year. "Shortly before noon on Sunday (15th inst.) , the long-expected Flying Squadron was signaled as in sight from the Race Rocks Light to Admiral Farquhar on board the flagship Zealous, and soon after six war ships with all sails set, hove in sight of the city. A breeze sufficiently strong to fill every inch of canvas was blowing, and as the vessels rounded the rocks, the townspeople flocked to adjacent hills and points to witness the grand, picturesque sight.
Off Albert Head four of the ships were abreast, tall, stately and majestic, with the bright rays of the sun falling full upon their snow-white sails and the stiff breeze bowling them swiftly ·on towards Esquimalt. The Scylla was the first to enter Esquimalt harbor followed by the Liverpool, flagship of Admiral Hornby. Off the entrance the Liverpool saluted and the compliment was immediately acknowledged by H.M.S. Zealous, flagship of Admiral Farquhar, lying at anchor in the harbor. The remaining vessels followed one by one and took up the position assigned to them at the buoys." The Flying Squadron made a two weeks' stay at Esquimalt. Regattas, dances, picnics, a luncheon party and dance on the flagship, horse races and sports at Beacon Hill, followed each other in quick succession. Queen Victoria's birthday, May 24th, was a special day for celebration, as it has remained to this day in Victoria. A salute of 168 guns was fired by the Fleet at noon. Horse races were held at Beacon Hill jockeyed by junior officers. Bluejackets' races caused much laughter. The day ended with His Excellency's Birthday Ball at Government House, then Cary Castle.
Life in Victoria and Esquimalt during the two weeks' visit of the Flying Squadron was very gay. In the book by J.B., "The Cruise Round the World of the Flying Squadron," we read of their departure:- "Eight o'clock on the following morning found the squadron steaming out of Esquimalt Harbor, with the "Charybdis" in company, she having taken the place of the "Scylla" who was left behind with the greatest regret, though we dare say the feeling was not reciprocated; nevertheless there was a great ovation on her part as the squadron passed out, the officers and ship company manning every available boat in the ship, and laying at the entrance of the harbor, tossing their oars, and cheering each successive ship as she passed on her way, which was returned with three, and one more, from the rigging of the passing ship; and as the last of the squadron were retreating, the signal went up from the "Scylla's" galley" Happiness attend Flying Squadron!" to which the Admiral replied, "Health and happiness attend you!" and then the "Scylla's" returned to their ship and comparative peace, the squadron steaming down St. Juan de Fuca Straits on its ocean career against time. At half past seven, being clear of the Straits, stopped engines, and made sail to the southward, close-hauled, with a fresh westerly breeze .. . " So "Good-bye" to the Flying Squadron and the days of sail in the Royal Navy.
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