Esquimalt, British Columbia Canada

Discover Esquimalt, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Esquimalt, British Columbia, is a charming municipality located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. It is surrounded by the provincial capital, Victoria, to the east, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south, Esquimalt Harbour and Royal Roads to the west, and the New Songhees 1A Indian reserve and the town of View Royal to the northwest. The district municipality of Saanich lies across a narrow inlet of water called the Gorge to the north. Esquimalt is part of the 13 municipalities of Greater Victoria and the Capital Regional District. As of 2021, it had a population of 17,533 and covers an area of 7.08 km2 (2.73 sq mi). It is also home to the Pacific fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Rich History of Esquimalt, British Columbia

The region now known as Esquimalt was settled by First Nations people approximately 4000 years before the arrival of Europeans. The treaties of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), signed in 1843, refer to these people as the Kosampsom group, now known as the Esquimalt Nation. The word Esquimalt is a transliteration of "Ess-whoy-malth," a phrase usually translated as "place of the shoaling waters."

The first Europeans to reach Esquimalt were the Spanish expedition of Manuel Quimper in Princesa Real in 1790. Quimper entered and carefully mapped Esquimalt Harbour, which his first mate named Puerto de Córdova. Quimper claimed the region for Spain and placed a wooden cross on a hill. In 1792, Captain George Vancouver extensively explored the region. Following the resolution of the Nootka Crisis, control of the region went to the British and the British-owned HBC.

The Evolution of Esquimalt, British Columbia

In 1843, the HBC was looking for a new location for its Pacific base of operations. James Douglas was ordered to build a new fort on Vancouver Island. Douglas chose a spot on the eastern shore of Victoria Harbour at the mouth of the Gorge Inlet, which he called Fort Camosun, later renamed Fort Victoria. However, ships continued to use Esquimalt Harbour to load and offload passengers and supplies.

In 1855, the British Royal Navy constructed three hospital buildings on the harbour to treat casualties of the Crimean War. A small settlement grew up on the water's edge near the naval installation. In 1858, the discovery of gold on the Fraser River triggered a massive influx of people, many of whom landed in Esquimalt Harbour.

In 1865, the Royal Navy relocated the headquarters of its Pacific fleet from Valparaíso, Chile, to Esquimalt Harbour. In 1887, a military base was located at Work Point. In 1905, the Royal Navy abandoned the Esquimalt Royal Navy Dockyard, but the Pacific base of the new Royal Canadian Navy replaced it in 1910.

Demographics of Esquimalt, British Columbia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Esquimalt had a population of 17,533 living in 8,565 of its 8,995 total private dwellings, a change of -0.7% from its 2016 population of 17,655. With a land area of 7.08 km2 (2.73 sq mi), it had a population density of 2,476.4/km2 (6,413.9/sq mi) in 2021.

Neighbourhoods of Esquimalt, British Columbia

Esquimalt is home to several neighbourhoods, each with its unique charm. These include Craigflower, Colville Road, Gorge Vale Golf, Esquimalt Village, Parklands, Panhandle Alley, Rock Heights, Saxe Point, West Bay, and Work Point (DND). Although the neighbourhood of Victoria (Vic) West is located on the Esquimalt Peninsula, it is part of the city of Victoria.

Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, British Columbia

Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (CFB Esquimalt) is home to Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) of the Royal Canadian Navy. The base facility dates back to the fur trade era, before the founding of the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849. It was first established as a military installation by the Royal Navy in 1855, and has been operated by the Royal Canadian Navy since 1910.