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

Pea sized hail rained from the skies in Prince Rupert on Nov. 30 leaving roads covered in a sheet of ice. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Large hail caused icy conditions in Prince Rupert

High wind warnings in effect for North Coast and Haida Gwaii

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is now 75 per cent complete, announced Prince Rupert Port Authority on Nov. 30. (Photo: supplied by PRPA)
Crews are working 24 hours a day to complete vital infrastructure road in Prince Rupert

Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is 75% complete announced Prince Rupert Port Authority

Illustration courtesy Pacific Northern Gas
Illustration shows what’s involved with the plan by Pacific Northern Gas to expand the capacity of its natural gas line serving the northwest.
LNG projects hold out potential for lower gas user rates

LNG plants planned for Port Edward and Terrace

Prince Rupert carving artist Henry Kelly is having his work installed on Nov. 20, as a permanent art exhibit at the Prince Rupert Regional Airport. The traditional cedar canoe is a welcome symbol to those arriving at YPR. (Photo: supplied)
Art unveiling ceremonies at YPR cancelled due to new pandemic restrictions

Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit at Prince Rupert Regional Airport features local carvers

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
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

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

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Most Read