48 25' 38" N latitude First Keeper: George N. Davies
123 27' 17" W longitude First Assistant: Mrs. R. Davies
Located near historic Victoria, British Columbia, Fisgard Lighthouse first saw a light on November 16, 1860 and is the oldest lighthouse on the west-coast of Canada. Constructed by the British government, Fisgard served as a guide to mariners leaving for the gold fields of the Fraser River, and marked the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour, the home of the British Royal Navy's Pacific Squadron on the west-coast of Canada.
Now run by Parks Canada,
Fisgard is a National Historic Site open year-round to the public. Harbour seals,
various species of seabirds and the occasional sea lion can often be seen from the
site. Great tidal pools near the lighthouse can be explored during low tides so click here to plan
on visiting at low tide (do a tide search for 'Esquimalt'). Fisgard Lighthouse, and nearby Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, have
websites you can visit too. The official website has a lot of great information, but
I hope this site can be of use to everyone with an interest in this historic piece of
Some facts on the history of Fisgard Lighthouse:
- The lighthouse is actually named after the island upon which it sits. Fisgard Island is named after H.M. Frigate Fisgaurd, one of the ships of the British Navy. It is believed that Lieutenant James Wood of H.M.S. Pandora named the island while surveying the area in 1846. Fisgaurd, the ship, was named after the Welsh town 'Fishgaurd'.
- The location of the lighthouse was suggested by Captain Richards of H.M. Surveying Ship Plumper, with the support of Vancouver Island governor James Douglas. Here is the 'Notice To Mariners' that appeared in the January 29, 1861 edition of The British Colonist.
- Fisgard was originally fitted with a fourth order lighting apparatus, manufactured in England, and could project a light approximately 16 km (9.6 miles).
- The wrought iron spiral staircase located inside the tower was constructed in San Francisco. John Wright, the designer, received $300 for the design.
- The first lighthouse keeper, George Davies, and his family (wife Rosina and 3 children) left England on January 21, 1860 on the Grecian, and his pay commenced on that day. Here is a copy of their ticket.
- It took the Davies family over 7 months to arrive from England. During a stop in the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, Davies discovered that many of the ruby-coloured glass shades were smashed due to rough handling by the crew of the Grecian. In addition, the iron part of the latern was 'considerably rusted, from undue exposure to wet'.
- When Fisgard's third keeper, William Bevis, died August 5, 1879, his wife took over duties until February 1, 1880. During that time she was assisted by her 19 year old niece and was eventually paid the same wages as her husband would have received. It is thought that Mrs. Bevis might have been the first official female lighthouse keeper in Canada's history!
- Keeper Joseph Dare (March 4, 1884- July 3, 1898) accidentally shot himself in 1890 while hunting mink, resulting in the loss of one of his eyes! Eight years later on a return trip from Esquimalt, Dare fell out of his boat and was drowned.
- Joseph Dare's replacement, William Cormack, holds the record for the shortest stint as lighthouse keeper. After only 12 days Cormack resigned and returned to his old job of 'labourer' with the Public Works Department, siting the reason for his resignation as 'boredom and monotony'.
- The light from Fisgard could at one time be seen from the land side of the lighthouse. However, after the glass was cracked and, in one case, shattered by the concussion from the nearby guns at Fort Rodd Hill, the glass panels on the land ward side were replaced with iron shutters.
- Fisgard's last keeper, Josiah Gosse, remained on duty until February 15, 1929 when the light was automated, even though he officially retired on December 15, 1928!
This page was created by Cedre DeCat