Esquimalt’s naval and military past is present. It is a part of our history that can be seen in a number of ways, from our obvious connection to CFB Esquimalt – the first military presence in the colony of Vancouver Island – to symbols, monuments and architecture located throughout the community.
We recognize this past through important events held throughout the year, including our commemoration of HMCS Esquimalt on April 16 each year. The ship was tragically sunk with heavy loss of life only three weeks before the end of the Second World War.
This month there are two additional events that recognize and remember our naval and military past: the Fort Macaulay Historic Interpretation event on May 26 and the God’s Acre Candlelight Tribute on May 31.
The Fort Macaulay event is a fascinating look into the past of this military installation that was the longest serving component of the Victoria-Esquimalt Coast Defence Fortification System. The fort was active from 1878 to 1956 and in 2013 it was placed on the Township’s Heritage List.
During Canada 150 last year, in partnership with the Department of National Defence and through funding from a federal Canada 150 grant, we developed interpretive signage and a brochure which describe the history of the site. A driving force behind the interpretation event is local military historian Jack Bates, who will be leading tours for the public. The event also includes military re-enactments and displays from a number of military museums and organizations.
The God’s Acre Candlelight Tribute is an event of remembrance at Veteran’s Cemetery, a National Historic Site located inside Gorge Vale Golf Course off Colville Road. It is a tribute to our men and women who have served at sea since 1868. The public is invited to lay candles that burn until midnight in a silent salute. It is a moving tribute in a special location, with its shaded lawns and historic grave markers. God’s Acre is a place where one can truly appreciate our naval heritage and military history while remembering those who sacrificed so much for our peace and freedom.
These events, open to the public, are held on historic sites of national significance and I encourage everyone to attend. The men and women who have served or currently serve our country are why we hold these important events. We’ll remember them always. More information is available at Esquimalt.ca/events.
• Saturday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Fort Macaulay Historic Interpretation Event, Macaulay Point Park
• Thursday, May 31, 6:45 p.m.: God’s Acre Veteran’s Cemetery Candlelight Tribute, God’s Acre Cemetery
Barb Desjardins is mayor of the Township of Esquimalt.