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1899::The Secret Whistles of Britain's Pacific Outpost at Esquimalt, British Columbia

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

Britain's last kick at bolstering her small yet strategic outpost on the pacific ocean.

Britain's Outpost: Esquimalt, British Columbia

"Esquimalt: The Gate to Britain's Pacific Outpost"

Photo: Private Collection


1899::Brtiain bolsters her outpost at Esquimalt, British Columbia

At about the same time Great Britain began to understand the strategic value of the Esquimalt Harbour on Vancouver Island, she also began to realize its vulnerabilities (especially with foreign warships rumoured to be sailing about the Straits).


In 1899, Britain decided that until such a time that she could fully bolster her pacific naval station on the far reaches of her empire, strict precautionary measures were to be taken. This included the promulgation of the following order so as never to be caught napping at her Vancouver Island outpost:


1899::Esquimalt's secret whistles.
"The Order" Clip: The Times (1899)
All merchant vessels wishing to enter Esquimalt Harbour must come to a dead stop at the entrance and signal their presence by means of a special series of whistles, which have been communicated privately to the local pilots and the masters of such steam craft as may naturally be expected to visit the naval port, and which will be answered from the shore.

1905::Canada takes over her naval bases on either coast.

"Canada Takes Over Abandoned Base"

Clip: The New Hartford Tribune (1905)


At the end of 1904, Britain decided that the upkeep of her pacific post in Esquimalt was just too expensive to adequately bolster. Shortly before Christmas, she laid off all her base employees, abandoned her pacific post in the far West, and sold off items for a mere song. Months later, the Dominion of Canada took over the full responsibility of two of her most strategic posts on either coast, including Halifax, Nova Scotia and Esquimalt, British Columbia.


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