History of Colwood2019-01-15T14:21:33+00:00

10,000 to 15,000 years ago: Pleistocene glaciation.
1,700 years ago: Straits Salish Indian settlement site at Esquimalt Lagoon.
1,000 years ago: Straits Salish Indian settlement at Witty’s Lagoon.

  • 1493 Spain’s traditional rights to the Pacific coast were established in a Papal Bull.
  • 1513 The Southern Ocean was first sighted by Europeans from the Isthmus of Panama.
  • 1579 Drake, in the “Golden Hind”, landed on the California coast and laid claim to the undiscovered territory of Nova Albion (North America) for the British Crown. He then sailed northward in search of the Northwest Passage and a short route back to England. He may have been as far north as Vancouver Island according to his nephew’s account.
  • 1592 The ‘mythical’ voyage of Juan de Fuca, otherwise known as Apostolos Valerianos, on the Northwest coast and discovery of the Strait of Fuca.
  • 1745 Russian fur traders began trading for sea otter pelts along the coast of Alaska and moved southward.
  • 1774 Juan Perez sent north to established Spanish influence on the Northwest Coast. Perez traded with the Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, and the Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island. Buttons, nails, iron and tin were traded for the valuable skins of the sea otter. Juan Perez, however, did not land on the shore and claim the territory for Spain.
  • 1775 Lieutenant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra sailed north to Alaska and claimed the northwest for Spain.
  • 1778 Spanish naval surveyors played a very active role in the exploration and charting of the Northwest Coast (1778-1794).
  • 1778 Britain followed Spain in search of lucrative trade with the native people. With the aid of French maps Capt. James Cook sailed into north-west waters to establish Britain’s presence and to search for the north-west passage. Cook anchored in Nootka Sound and Cook Inlet.
  • 1784 Cook’s Journals were published. This prompted explorers and fortune seekers to flock to the Pacific Northwest. Competition between Russian, French and English traders intensified. The Spanish claim to the area was ignored.
  • 1787 Capt. Barkley discovered the inland waterway, which was reported two hundred years before by Juan de Fuca. The strait was then officially named for the pilot.
  • 1788 Capt. John Meares established base at Nootka Sound and brought Chinese labourers to help build the “Northwest America” – the first boat to be launched on the Northwest coast.
  • 1789 Spain seized the British base at Nootka in an attempt to establish sovereignty over the Northwest Coast. Quadra was commissioned by Spain to chart the waters of the Northwest Coast.
  • 1790 Spanish ships were engaged in exploring the inside channels and surveying the south and east coasts of the Island of Quadra and Vancouver (1790 – 1792).
  • 1790 Quadra’s assistant, Manuel Quimper, charted the Strait of Juan de Fuca, claiming the area for Spain when he landed at Albert Head. He also named various points on Vancouver Island. One such name was Dura de Valdes y Bazan (now Royal Roads). He also explored Esquimalt Harbour (Puerto de Cordova).
  • 1792 Captain George Vancouver was appointed to head an exploration and diplomatic mission in the Pacific Northwest waters. The Expedition anchored in Nootka Sound. During this three year mission, Vancouver not only charted the coastline, he established that there was no Northwest Passage, and provided an excellent opportunity for Britain to display her naval strength in the Pacific. Pacific Coast was reached by Northwest Company fur-traders travelling overland.
  • 1794 The third Nootka convention was signed January 11, 1794, whereby all Spanish Territories north of Puget Sound were handed over to Britain.
  • 1795 Spain and Britain agreed to work together to prevent other countries from gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Early 1800s There were few explorations in the Pacific Northwest. There was activity by Russians and Americans in the fur trade but no move was made to establish territorial rights.
  • 1805 Trading posts were established by the Northwest Company in the Northwest Interior (New Caledonia).
  • 1812 War was declared between Britain and the United States of America.
  • 1821 The Hudson’s Bay Company merged with the Northwest Company.
  • 1824 The Pacific Headquarters of Hudson’s Bay Company was established at Fort Vancouver (Washington State).
  • 1834 The Hudson’s Bay Company vessel “Beaver”, began trading with coastal villages. There was no formal colonization policy at this time; though company farms (under the management of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company – a Hudson’s Bay Company subsidiary) supplied food to Fort Vancouver, and the Russian traders.
  • 1837 The Hudson’s Bay Company began to see the need for colonization plans for the coast. It was decided that new headquarters needed to be established north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Capt. McNeill examined the south coast of Vancouver Island and considered Camosack (Victoria) Harbour best for agricultural settlement.
  • 1838 On March 13th, the Hudson’s Bay company was given the Crown Grant for ‘exclusive’ trade with natives in countries to the west of the Rocky Mountains.
  • 1840s HMS Herald (Royal Navy barque) charted the bays and inlets from Sooke to Esquimalt Harbour under Capt. Henry Kellett. In 1846 Kellett named the bay between Victoria and Albert Head, ‘ Royal Bay’.
  • 1842 Chief Factor James Douglas was sent to examine Vancouver Island more thoroughly for a suitable site for a fort and trading post. The harbour site of Camosak was chosen. The British Navy had also shown an interest in the southern coast line, particularly Esquimalt Harbour which was more defendable that Camosack.
  • 1843 Fort Victoria was established at Camosack harbour. It became the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Pacific Headquarters and base for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. The local Indian population was relocated.
  • 1846 The Oregon Treaty was signed. The boundary of the northern United States became the 49th parallel. Naval activity in the area declined.
  • 1847 Roderick Finlayson, clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company, established a company sawmill on Rowe stream, to be called Millstream. The mill was in operation six months of the year until 1854. A road was built from the Gorge to the sawmill.
  • 1849 Vancouver Island was declared a Crown Colony. The Hudson’s Bay Company, with James Douglas in charge, was given a Royal Grant for a ten-year period; the annual rent was seven shillings. There was a legal obligation to establish a colony on the Island. The company’s policy was to recreate the landed gentry social structure of rural English, with a ‘squire/bailiff’ and his labourers on company farms (Puget Sound Agricultural Company).
  • 1849 Capt. Grant became Vancouver Island’s first official settler, setting up a homestead at Sooke. The colonial government initiated a system of pre-empting land. Land could be purchased from the government at $1 (US) an acre initial fee. This was shortly changed to 1 pound sterling per acre. This payment had to be made before a settler could occupy the land.
  • 1850s The native peoples lifestyle was disrupted by the colonial policy of the British. Many left their traditional territories to settle around Fort Victoria to trade with the people of the fort.
  • 1851 James Douglas was made second Governor of Vancouver Island, while still retaining his Hudson’s Bay Company position. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company, appointed Capt. Edward E. Langford ‘bailiff’ of the 600 acre Esquimalt Farm lying between Esquimalt Harbour and the present Langford Lake. The farmhouse was called ‘Colwood’ after his home in Sussex, England. The first stone dairy on the island was built on this farm as was a lime kiln, homestead and barn. Kanakas (Hawaiian Islanders) were employed as shepherds for the herd of Southdown sheep. Mrs. Langford gave birth to the first white male child born in the colony. Capt. Langford’s sister opened a School for Young Ladies at ‘Colwood’ Farm.
  • 1852 The road was started from Victoria to Metchosin. It was authorized by Gov. Douglas to open up the western coastal lands and connect existing farms to Fort Victoria.
  • 1853 Chief Justice David Cameron, brother-in-law of Governor Douglas and ex-employee of Hudson’s Bay Company, built a house at Belmont, now the site of Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Park.
  • 1854 Millstream sawmill was shut down due to an unusually heavy run-off. Millwright William Richard Parson then opened the Hotel (on the site of the present Six Mile) at Parson’s Bridge to cater to Esquimalt navy men. Langford was appointed Justice of Peace for the Esquimalt District. Douglas established the Kosampson Village group reserve at Esquimalt Harbour.
  • 1855 During the period 1855 to 1860 there was increasing permanent settlement by English and Scottish immigrants independent of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Their livelihood centred on farming, stock raising and orchard growing.
  • 1858 Victoria became the outfitting centre for the Fraser River and Barkerville gold rush. The population increased from 300 to 25,000.
  • 1859 The first Parliament Building nicknamed “The Birdcages” was constructed in Victoria.
  • 1860 Fisgard Lighthouse was constructed at the mouth of Esquimalt Harbour. It was 47 ft high, and visible for 10 nautical miles. In 1950 it was connected by a causeway to the shore at the base of Fort Rodd Hill.
  • 1861 “Gentleman Farmer” Capt. Langford returns to England. First forestry inventory recorded extensive stands of mature Douglas Fir in the Langford and Colwood areas.
  • 1863 A sawmill was opened on Colwood Creek above the Indian burial site on Esquimalt Lagoon, on what is now Royal Roads University land. John Gilmore owned the sawmill.
  • 1864 In July, gold was discovered by Lieut. Peter J. Leech on the Sooke River. The Leechtown `rush’ was short lived, only a year long.
  • 1865 Rapid increase in logging activity, especially `high-grading’, which is the removal of only the best and largest Douglas fir. The logged over area was sought by settlers. June 29,1865, a permanent naval base of the Royal Navy’s Pacific Station was established in Esquimalt Harbour to provide maintenance and supply facilities ashore for the fleet. International circumstances determined whether headquarters were in Esquimalt or Valparaiso, Chile.
  • 1868 Victoria becomes the capital of the Crown colony of British Columbia.
  • 1870s Thomas Parker took the mail from Victoria to Colwood, Metchosin, Albert Head and Rocky Point. The Hotel at Parson’s Bridge was one of the first business customers on the run.
  • 1871 The Arbitration Boundary settlement gave the San Juan Islands to the Americas. British Columbia entered the Dominion of Canada. Switzer’s tannery was located near Belmont on the sight of John Gilmore’s mill. Later, the land on which the tannery had been, became part of the Dunsmuir’s Hatley Park Estate.
  • 1874 The original Colwood school was built on Sooke Road on land donated by Arthur Peatt, a local farmer. The building was later transferred across the road and became the home of the Ross family.
  • 1879 Possible date of the building of the first Colwood Hotel. Andrew J. Bechtel was the proprietor.
  • 1880s Capt. Josiah Gosse, on retirement from B.C. Coast Service of C.P.R. as master of the “Otter”, became lightkeeper of Esquimalt – Fisgard Lighthouse. The Royal Navy began a rifle range on Coburg Peninsula, Esquimalt Lagoon.
  • 1886 Prime Minister Sir John McDonald drove a ceremonial spike in the railroad at Shawnigan Lake and soon after the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway arrived in Colwood.
  • 1887 Military maps indicate the presence of a water storage tank and flume across the non-tidal portion of the beach at the south end of the Esquimalt Lagoon. The tank was gravity-filled from one of the springs in this area. Water from this tank was then transported by the “Daisy,” a flat-bottomed sternwheeler, to Esquimalt Harbour to provide fresh water for Royal Navy vessels.
  • 1890s Saint Matthew’s Presbyterian church moved from Craigflower to Colwood and was rebuilt on land donated by Alfred Peatt (senior). There was only a small congregation and that gradually dwindled, until the church was no longer used. Steeple and flat course horse racing tracks were located on the Wale property near Colwood Corners. This track was located on land which was formerly part of the Hudson’s Bay Company Colwood Farm. This land is now part of the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.
  • 1892 William John Wale leased the old 600-acre Colwood Farm for the sum of $400 per year. 1895 Fort Rodd Hill installation was armed. The Fort guarded the entrance to the Royal Navy yards at Esquimalt. The original Colwood Hotel was burned down and a 2-story framed, square shaped building was rebuilt by the proprietor, Mr Campbell. He later enlarged the building and sold it to Mrs Miller, who became the owner of the Goldstream Inn.
  • 1897 Copper mining activity in progress at Skirt Mountain (1897 – 1901).
  • 1898 A General Store was opened by Mr. H Goodall on Sooke Road. The expanded business was later moved to the corner of Ledsham and Sooke Road. It contained a Post Office and later a one-pump gas station.
  • 1899 William Wale, of Colwood Farm, was appointed the first Justice of the Peace for the Province of British Columbia (1899 – 1910).
  • 1900 The Oak Dell Hotel, a 2 story frame building, was located in the vicinity of the 2100 block Sooke Road. The proprietor was a Mr. DeMeres. The Hotel contained a Post Office, and adjoining the Hotel was Oak Dell Park.
  • 1902 Honourable James Dunsmuir, member of the BC Legislature, coal baron, builder and owner of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, purchased the Hatley Park Estate at Esquimalt Lagoon. Post Office relocated from Millstream Road to Langford Station (later relocated to Goldstream Road)
  • 1907 Colwood and Metchosin Tourist and Development Association formed to encourage this settlement and use of the area as well as to lobby for services for the area.
  • 1910 Colwood Women’s Institute formed.
  • 1911 Construction began on the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway from Victoria to Cowichan Lake. The third Colwood School opened, beside the site of the second school. The second school became a residence.
  • 1911 A new church was constructed on land donated by Alfred Peatt (senior) across the road from the old St. Matthew site. Saint John the Baptist, an Anglican church, was built with the aid of fund-raising by the Women’s Institute of Colwood and the support of Mrs. Laura Dunsmuir (1911-1913).
  • 1914 Colwood Golf and Country Club formed. The land purchased by Joseph Sayward and James Dunsmuir was formerly part of Hudson’s Bay Company Colwood Farm.
  • 1914 First World War (1914-18).
  • 1916 The Belmont Exchange of the B.C. Telephone Company was located on Sooke Road opposite the present Colwood School. The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway opened in the area.
  • 1920 James Dunsmuir died. Owner F.W. Jones of Golden opened up a gravel pit (now Construction Aggregates / Royal Bay). The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway became part of the Canadian National Railway.
  • 1922 Installation of a complete `auto-furnishing branch’ with gas and `free air’ at Goodall’s General Store.
  • 1924 Colwood Race Track opened. The track was open for two weeks in the spring.
  • 1925 The first totalizator was introduced to a Canadian race track at Colwood. Alfred Peatt (senior), with the approval of the Rev. Leslie Clay, minister in Victoria, prepared to give the church cemetery to the community for a public burial ground. A Cemetery Committee was elected at a Colwood Women’s Institute Meeting. St. Matthews was sold for $40 and removed from the site.
  • 1931 King George V granted the use of the prefix “Royal” to the Colwood Golf Course.
  • 1936 Old Colwood Hotel razed, and was replaced by a modern Tudor design, built by George T. Quincey.
  • 1937 Mrs. Laura Dunsmuir died.
  • 1939 Colwood Volunteer Fire Department originated from a 1939 Air Raid Protection Unit, which included fire fighting in their duties.
  • 1940 Federal Government converted Hatley Castle and grounds into a naval training establishment (1940-1941). More Information on Hatley Park National.
  • 1941 Fortress Commanders Post was located on Triangular Hill (Triangle Mountain).

Courtesy
The City of Colwood
British Columbia