Fort Rodd Hill, a coast artillery fort overlooking the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour in Victoria, was built by the British in the late 1890s to protect Victoria and the Royal Naval base in Esquimalt.
From 1878 until 1956, a system of artillery positions guarded the city of Victoria and Esquimalt Harbour. Originally a link in the worldwide chain of defences for the British Empire, this system evolved into a watchdog for Canada’s security and sovereignty of our Pacific west coast.
The “Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress” grew and changed over time to deal with new threats and technologies. Fort Rodd Hill represents all of the defensive locations of the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress, and is one of the best preserved and most complete examples of its kind, consisting entirely of original structures, with minimal restoration.
Stroll along the ramparts of three coastal gun batteries built a century ago. Look down the barrels of original guns, explore underground magazines and discover camouflaged searchlight emplacements. Continue through the picturesque grounds to view the original Command posts, guardhouses and troop barracks.
There are numerous interpretive signs and audio-visual stations, as well as period-furnished rooms. As you walk along the trails, look for some of the year-round residents who call Fort Rodd Hill home, including Colombian Black-tailed deer, grey squirrels, raccoons and numerous bird species.
The large grounds also boast the Fisgard Lighthouse, the first permanent lighthouse on Canada’s west coast, which has been in continuous use since 1860.
There is a pleasant walk from the field to the lighthouse, but rather than following the direct route, you can take the nature path, near the picnic tables, for a 10-minute stroll through a forest, with many sights and bird sounds along the way. The gravel walkway to the lighthouse was built over a torpedo net meant to intercept torpedoes fired at the naval base.
The former keeper’s house now contains exhibits, artifacts and display panels. The waters around Fisgard Lighthouse are frequented by harbour seals and the occasional sea lion.
A Parks Canada initiative allows visitors the opportunity to stay overnight at Fort Rodd Hill, in sturdy tent cabins. Amenities include kitchen facilities, barbecues, picnic tables and bathrooms. After the grounds close, campers have the whole site to ourselves and are free to further explore the grounds. A Reservation through Parks Canada is required to stay overnight at Fort Rodd Hill.
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse are 14 km from downtown Victoria. These two adjoining National Historic Sites can be accessed off Highway 1, by taking the Colwood exit, or off Highway 1A, onto Ocean Boulevard in Colwood.
Please note that pets and bicycles are not allowed in the sites.
February 15 – October 31: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
November 1 – February 14: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
603 Fort Rodd Hill Road