Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse

The Fisgard Lighthouse is part of the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada located in Victoria, British Columbia. The Fisgard Lighthouse was the very first lighthouse put into operation on the west coast of Canada. The historic landmark was constructed in 1860 and posted at the entrance of the Esquimalt Harbour as an operational beacon, servicing the naval fleets of the British Royal Navy’s Pacific Squadron. For many years, a lighthouse keeper maintained the lighthouse until it was automated in 1929. The Fisgard Lighthouse is a sightseeing destination, providing views of the Olympic Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Staying for sunset is a bonus you won’t regret, and the isolated lighthouse, on its own little peninsula, makes for the ultimate Pacific Northwest photo op.

Photo By: Fisgard

The historic landmark now operates as a museum with exhibits detailing the stories of lost ships, the life of a lighthouse keeper and the battles won and lost fighting west coast storms. Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse also make a fantastic birding and wildlife destination. The unique location provides opportunities for sightings of blue herons, bald eagles and plenty of other birds, and for photographers to capture photos of sea lions, seals and whales. There’s also a steady flow of marine traffic and sightings including sailboats, fishing boats and navy vessels. The welcoming picnic tables often entice families to stay for half a day with packed lunches, and scuba divers delight in the waters around the lighthouse. You’ll often spot their wheel barrows parked on the grass to put their gear into once their done exploring below the waves.

Photo By: Benlarhome

Overlooking the Fisgard Lighthouse is the other half of the National Historic Site, Fort Rodd Hill. From 1895, right up until 1956, Fort Rodd Hill was dedicated to the defense of Victoria-Esquimalt. Today, you can go back in time to discover Fort Rodd Hill’s military secrets by exploring the gun batteries, barracks and heading deep underground to bunkers. Get a true feel for what commanders experienced as they paced the command posts – they’re still made up with furniture and mannequins dressed in military uniform. Audio stations, video stations and interpretive signs walk you through and let you discover Victoria’s military past in detail. You can even grab a snack from the canteen in the summer if you get hungry.

Photo By: Steve Pierpoint

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the National Historic Site is that you can truly experience life at the fort by waking up beneath the fort walls in your tent. OTENTik is a company exclusive to Parks Canada, who currently run the site, providing guests with a more cushy version of an outdoor camping adventure. Similar to when soldiers’ families lived at Fort Rodd Hill during their summer camp-out, you’ll fall asleep to the comforting sounds of the ocean and forest, and wake up back in time at the foot of the fort. The tents are already set up and have more than enough amenities including a table, electricity, cooking equipment and a lockbox. They can sleep up to six people. Far from roughing it, all you need to bring is your basic camping gear like sleeping bags, pillows, camp chairs and flashlights. It’s a great way to experience Victoria’s nature, past and present, while enjoying a unique experience.

Photo By: John Schrantz

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