Past meets present on CFB Esquimalt summer tours

Visitors to get crash course in historical and present-day operations this summer

CFB Esquimalt tour guides Drew Danelesko and Elena Lopez guide visitors around the naval base. The free tours

Ghost stories, a booby-trapped wall, gun batteries, warships and buildings from a bygone era are just some of the highlights meant to captivate visitors to CFB Esquimalt.

Elena Lopez and Drew Danelesko have the unique summer job of taking the public on behind-the-scenes guided bus and walking tours of the navy base, which began May 22 and continue until late August.

Last summer, about 1,600 people toured the base.

“I kind of wanted to know a little bit more about the military, since it was a big part of my childhood,” Esquimalt resident Lopez, whose father is a naval officer at the base, says of her reasons for applying for the job.

Though she has long been immersed in military life, the University of Victoria political science student had never been to the secure dockyard at CFB Esquimalt before taking on her current position.

“You don’t realize how much active work is actually going on here,” she says.

Victoria resident Danelesko, a fourth-year UVic student, was drawn to the role for different reasons.

“I’m a history student, so being a tour guide (allows me to) relate that same enthusiasm that I have for history to other people,” he says. “This base is over 100 years old, so I think that’s really interesting.”

The pair are enjoying telling visitors about the 112-year-old ghost of Lt. Reginald Scott that is said to haunt the commodore’s residence.

It’s one of many historical aspects of CFB Esquimalt that will capture people’s imaginations.

One of several highlights on the tour is a brick wall built in the late 1800s as a boundary between the military dockyard and the village of Esquimalt.

A section of the wall still stands just beyond the dockyard gate. Visitors will learn of the glass shards placed along the top of the structure long ago – since removed – to keep village children from coming onto military property to steal expensive equipment, Lopez says.

The tours draw out-of-towners, seniors groups, youth groups and schools, families, retired military members and photography clubs.

“The majority of our groups during the summer are tourists, but also there are a lot of new military families that move in (who come for the tours),” says Vicki Laidlaw, CFB Esquimalt tours co-ordinator.

The tours are meant to forge a connection between the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadians.

“It’s their navy,” says base spokesperson, navy Lt. Michael McWhinnie. “We want them to feel connected, and to know about it and to understand the work that is being done on their behalf and in Canadian interests, not just at home, but around the world.”

As CFB Esquimalt tour guides, Lopez and Danelesko help make that happen.

“(Their role is) part hospitality, but also part ambassador for a national organization. There’s a lot of responsibility,” McWhinnie said.

To take a free, guided tour, visitors must have valid photo identification, except children under 12 when accompanied by an adult. Sturdy, closed-toe footwear is required for walking tours. Photography is permitted.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Tour details:

Bus tours: For a 90-minute bus tour, meet the tour guides at 11 a.m. on weekdays until Aug. 24, excluding July 2 and Aug. 6, near the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum. Enter the Naden gate at the intersection of Admirals and Woodway roads, and follow the blue lines on the road or the signs with the letter ‘M.’

Walking tours: To take part in the two-hour walking tours, which happen Saturdays at 11 a.m. until Aug. 25, excluding June 30 and Aug. 4, head to the main gate of HMC Dockyard at the end of Esquimalt Road.

Custom bus or walking tours can be arranged for groups outside the regular schedule. Requests can be made by calling 250-363-2595, or emailing cfbesquimalt@shaw.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

Most Read