Fisgard Lighthouse celebrates its 160th birthday on Nov. 16. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Fisgard Lighthouse celebrates its 160th birthday on Nov. 16. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Famed Vancouver Island landmark lighthouse celebrates 160 years

Celebrations abound online for 2020 party

This bonne fete needs one heck of a cake and a whole lot of candles.

Fisgard Lighthouse, one of the centerpieces at Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites in Colwood, celebrated its 160th birthday Monday (Nov. 16).

Completed in 1860, Fisgard Lighthouse is the oldest of its kind on the West Coast, said Michelle Holmes, site and visitor experience manager.

“It’s significant because it helped support growth, trade and settlement in Victoria by making the waters safe and protecting the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour,” Holmes explained. It was named after HMS Fisgard, a Royal Navy ship that served in the Pacific. It was built partially in response to the gold rush of the 1850s.

The first lighthouse keeper was William Bevis, who served from 1861 to 1879. His wife, Amelia, and niece, Mary, took over after Bevis died. While it was recommended they continue as they had been assisting Bevis for 20 years, women were not allowed to be lighthouse keepers at that time. Holmes said the widow and niece served for nine months before a “suitable” replacement could be found. Amelia and Mary were believed to be the first female lighthouse keepers in Canada.

READ MORE: Sun and smiles at Fisgard Lighthouse in Colwood (photos)

Keepers remained until 1928 when the lantern was automated. Steel shutters were added to the lantern room because the percussion from Fort Rodd Hill’s twin-barrelled six-pounder guns kept breaking the glass. Torpedo netting connected Fisgard Island to the shore until the causeway was completed in the 1950s.

Images of the iconic lighthouse can be found throughout Victoria, whether in a doctor’s office or part of a mural, Holmes noted. “It’s part of our local identity.”

It’s also the most visible navigation landmark for boats sailing from the Juan de Fuca Strait to Esquimalt Harbour, and is well known to foreign vessels.

Although an in-person birthday celebration was not possible due to COVID-19, the site is holding an online celebration in the form of a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter at #Fisgard160 with fun facts and photos. People are encouraged to contribute by sharing their own photos and memories as well.

Visit twitter.com/FortRoddHill and facebook.com/FortRoddFisgardNHS to share photos and stories.

The site is open free of charge during the week, with COVID protocols in place. Visit ParksCanada.ca/FortRoddHill for information on admission on weekends and hours of operation.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazete.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Children run toward the Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, which saw its 160th birthday marked on Nov. 16. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Children run toward the Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, which saw its 160th birthday marked on Nov. 16. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce has worked to support businesses throughout the pandemic. (File photo)
Ladysmith Chamber reflects on a challenging 2020

For small businesses looking to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 one… Continue reading

49th parallel was an early adopter of Plexiglas shields, and required staff to wear face masks. (49th Parallel photo)
49th Parallel continues to grow in spite of pandemic

The biggest challenge of the pandemic has been keeping shelves stocked at 49th Parallel stores

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MacGregor to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
The Nanaimo Rona location. (News Bulletin photo)
Rona home improvement store in Nanaimo advises that worker has COVID-19

Store re-opened Sunday after closing for cleaning Saturday

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

Most Read