Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites Map
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites
Area closures of Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites in 2024Due to construction, the following areas will be closed to the public:
- oTENTiks camping experience - unavailable for the season.
- Main field washrooms, Fisgard Lighthouse and adjacent beaches - spring/summer (dates to come).
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Welcome Centre - Welcome to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites! Here you will find site orientation, an exhibit, and the entry kiosk. Pay your entry fee, pick up a Site Guide and an Xplorer’s Booklet, rent an Audio Tour and check out our Parks Canada merchandise! A folding, manual wheelchair is available to borrow while visiting the sites.
A) Upper Battery - Built 1895-97. The single 6-inch disappearing gun here was identical to two in Lower Battery and three others at Macaulay Point, east of Esquimalt Harbour. The new forts at Rodd Hill and Macaulay replaced the “temporary” muzzle-loading gun batteries of 1878. As the westerly anchor of the defences of this period, Fort Rodd Hill’s relatively isolated location meant that any land assault would have to be held off until infantry forces arrived from Esquimalt’s Work Point Barracks, more than 10 km away. While primarily designed for defence against attacks from the sea, several features of the fort’s construction reflect this need for landward defence. Today, the Upper Battery represents the site during the late Victorian period.
B) Loopholed Gate and Wall - Fort Rodd Hill is unique in the entire Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress in having rearward-facing concrete walls with rifle-slits. These walls were thick enough to stop a bullet, and the loopholes allowed soldiers within to fire on an enemy attack.
C) Guardhouse - More than just a sentry-post, the guard-house also represented military authority and discipline, often acting as a holding-cell for misbehaving soldiers. Inside, artifacts are visible in the kitchen and the sleeping quarters areas. There is a ramp into the Guardhouse for wheelchairs and strollers, and a table and bench are available inside for a quick rest.
D) Water Tank - A 2,800 l (7,500 gallons) supply would meet the battery’s needs for several days.
E) Electric Light Directing Station – This station commanded all the Defence Electric Lights (searchlights) in the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress until 1940. The lights were so powerful that even the dispersed beams would clearly light up the harbour for almost 2 km.
F) Fortress Fire Commander’s Post - From 1924 to 1940, a wooden building that was once on this site (no longer surviving) was the Night Commander’s Post for the entire Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress. The Commander was in charge of commanding and coordinating all artillery firing.
G) Telephone Exchange – The Telephone Exchange ensured orders could be given, so the searchlight operators at Searchlight Emplacement No. 7 (the fisherman’s hut) knew where to point the lights.
H) Gun and Emplacement – This is where the 6-inch gun —or “disappearing gun”—lives. Weighing five tons, this gun barrel is the original one emplaced in this position in 1897. With the help of eight highly trained men, it was lifted into firing position using a hydraulic system. After firing the shell up to 9.5 km (6 miles), the recoil would cause the gun to drop back down and out of sight, which is how it got the nickname “disappearing gun.” Once safely below the parapet, it would be reloaded, and the whole process would be repeated. Today, you can find it on display in the firing position, on a modern display mounting.
I) Underground Magazine Complex - Safe from enemy fire, ammunition for the 6-inch gun was stored here. There was also a small workshop and parts storage area, a crew shelter, and a lamp room. No firearms were allowed in the magazine, and special safety clothing (to prevent sparks) had to be worn in the cartridge store.
K) Warrant Officer’s Quarters -This was peacetime home to the senior non-commissioned officer at Fort Rodd Hill. Over the years, several families lived in this British-style, brick house.
L) Fitter’s Shop - This is where the blacksmith worked on repairing the site’s equipment. Look inside to find the tools and anvils that were once used.
M) Battery Commander’s Post – Situated on a little hill, at the top of a concrete staircase, the Battery Command Post was one of the most important buildings during the earlier years of Fort Rodd Hill. The Battery Commander was responsible for commanding all gun-fire, and helping to pass along pertinent target location and other information to the Batteries.
N) Canteen - Off-duty soldiers could enjoy a beer and a snack here. Pickled eggs and pigs’ feet were popular in the 1920s. In the summer, the Canteen offers visitors refreshing drinks and heritage-themed ice cream. Several benches provide an opportunity to rest indoors. A gently ramp leads up to its doorway, which has a slight lip.
O) Lower Battery - Built at the same time as Upper Battery, and identical in function, this position had two 6-inch guns, and included the main pre-1940 barracks. Today, the Lower Battery represents World War One onward. Notable differences from Upper Battery include the Casemate Barracks and Fortress Plotting Room.
P) Casemate Barracks - Holding up to 54 men in three large rooms, this enclosed barracks also had a parade square, washhouse, kitchen, separate oil, coal and food stores, and a latrine. Today you will find several displays, a historic representation showcasing a layout of soldiers’ items, and the interactive exhibit “Women on the Home Front”. The Casemates Barracks is a quiet place to rest and is sheltered from the sun or rain. The wooden floors and packed gravel or concrete pathways provide access to the multiple rooms. The heritage doors do not have automatic openers and can be heavy.
Q) Fortress Plotting Room - The Fortress Plotting Room was the nerve centre of the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress’s counter bombardment guns for a short period during the Second World War. This calculation room worked with the forts at Mary Hill and Albert Head, and had no role in directing the guns at this site. In the 1950s, this room was an anti-aircraft plotting room, reflecting changing threats to Canadian sovereignty during the Cold War.
Nestled within the Lower Battery hill embankment, the temperature of the Fortress Plotting Room remains the same throughout the seasons and provides a quiet place to rest. The wooden ramp and concrete floor lead to the extensive exhibit inside.
R) Fisgard Lighthouse - Named a national historic site in 1960, a century after first showing its light, Fisgard is still a working lighthouse —although the last keeper rowed away in 1929. Fisgard was an early expression of government sovereignty on what would become Canada’s west coast. Generations of mariners —British and Canadian, naval and merchant —have relied on Fisgard as a landmark to find Esquimalt Harbour’s narrow entrance. With the Race Rocks light, Fisgard marks the safe anchorage of Royal Roads, and also points the way to Victoria Harbour for merchant ships. Today, visitors to the lighthouse will find colourful displays that tell the stories of the hardy, courageous men and women who kept the light burning.
The lighthouse is not universally accessible due to its interior and exterior historical design. For accessibility details, visit Known Barriers.
S) Boathouse - This is a modern reconstruction of the boathouse that was once here.
T) Storehouse and Water Tank - Fresh water was in short supply at Fisgard. To reduce reliance on barreled water, this general storehouse was built with a flat roof to collect rainwater. Pipes then filled an underground cistern with the water. Today, a modern reconstruction, using period bricks on the original foundations, houses accessible and fully enclosed gender-inclusive washrooms equipped with change tables.
U) Anti-torpedo measures - This steel anti-torpedo net, supported by wooden stakes, formed an underwater curtain, closing the gap between Fisgard Lighthouse and the beach at Fort Rodd Hill. The purpose of the steel net was to catch and hold the weapon until it ran out of compressed air and sank to the bottom of the harbour.
V) Searchlight Emplacement No. 7 - Built in 1940, this building was restored to its wartime camouflage scheme as a “fisherman’s hut”, complete with a ramp and its own boat! By 1944, there were 17 searchlights throughout the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress.
W) Belmont Battery - To prevent small, fast torpedo boats from slipping under the guns of Upper and Lower Batteries, two 12-pounder quick-firing guns were emplaced here in 1900. Identical guns protected Victoria and Esquimalt Harbours (at various times) from the Breakwater, Ogden Point, Golf Hill, Black Rock and Duntze Head Batteries. Today, Belmont Battery represents the site during the Second World War.
During the Second World War, the old 12-pounders at Belmont, Duntze Head and Ogden Point were replaced with twin-barreled 6-pounder guns, with a much faster rate of fire. Belmont fired the last shots of the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress in July of 1956.Today, Belmont Battery is a fantastic example of what a modern coastal defense system would have been like at the height of the Second World War.
X) Searchlight Engine Room – This room has two large diesel engines that powered the searchlight emplacements scattered around the site. The engine room itself is dug into the hillside for camouflage and protection, to ensure that the searchlights continued to operate, even if under attack.
Y) Historic Nature Trail - This short (15-minute) trail follows an historic sentry path, through lush shoreline woods. The hard-packed dirt and moderately packed cedar chips make the trail suitable for strollers, wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Z) Welcome Circle – This giant compass is home to a handful of native plants, directional signs to significant locations around the world, and local Indigenous inspired benches. This area marks the separation between the two National Historic Sites – Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse.
Garry Oak Learning Meadow - The natural areas at Fort Rodd Hill represent regionally-significant examples of Garry oak ecosystems. Under the guidance of Lək̓ʷəŋən knowledge keepers, and with help from volunteers, a 1-acre area of lawn in the heart of Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site has been naturescaped into a Garry oak meadow and woodland demonstration site. A flat, packed gravel trail meanders through beds of wildflowers. Interpretive signs are located periodically along the trail.
Note: as it is important to keep the deer out, there are manual gates with latches at both entrances to the Garry Oak Learning Meadow. These must be closed behind you when you enter or exit the meadow.
oTENTiks – Exclusive to Parks Canada, these walled tent accommodations offer a unique blend of comfort and a taste of outdoor adventure. Fort Rodd Hill has five themed oTENTiks that are open during our summer season, and can be reserved through the Parks Canada Reservation System. oTENTik #1 has been designed to accommodate wheelchair users and people with mobility restrictions.
- From the Welcome Centre to Fisgard Lighthouse – 10 to 15 minutes
- Historic Nature Trail – 10 to 20 minutes one-way
- Full loop of the site (past Lower Battery, Fisgard Lighthouse, Belmont Battery and Upper Battery) – 40 to 60 minutes
Note: Time estimates are for walking only—please allow additional time to explore buildings, interpretive panels and exhibits.
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