As the western-most province of Canada, British Columbia has a long and storied nautical history. As coastal communities grew with immigration from Europe, marine traffic grew with it. With gold rushes in in the 1850s and 60s and no railway connecting Britain’s western territories it became necessary to build lighthouses to help guide that traffic.
Fisgard Lighthouse was the first constructed on the west coast of what was to become Canada. Built in 1860 at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbor, the light has been in operation since and guided many ships into the port. Now the harbour is home to Canada’s main Pacific Ocean naval base and Fisgard Lighthouse guides ships into their home port from duties around the world.
The structure was originally built on a small island a few dozen meters off the coast. Early keepers had to row food and supplies from land originally, though a breakwater and walkway were put in for ease of access.
The lighthouse is a classic structure with a red brick house next to a tall white cylinder. The interior houses a small museum dedicated to the history of the area and lighthouses.
Now Fisgard Lighthouse shares a National Historic Site with Fort Rodd Hill, a former military site with large banks of artillery and canons built in the 1890s and shut down as a base in 1956.