Esquimalt Lagoon, Royal Roads

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Esquimalt Lagoon, Royal Roads

by | May 3, 2020

Esquimalt Lagoon is formed by a sand spit 1.2 miles (1.9 km) long that almost fully encloses the estuary of Colwood Creek that flows by Hatley Castle on the grounds of Royal Roads University, 4.4 miles (7.3 km) west of Victoria and within the city of Colwood, British Columbia. The word Esquimalt is a transliteration of the First Nations “Ess-whoy-malth” a phrase usually translated as “place of the shoaling waters”. The lagoon is adjacent to Royal Roads, an embayment used in 1790 by Don Manuel Quimper of the Spanish navy who anchored his ship Princess Royal there and claimed the territory for Spain.

Royal Roads was originally named Royal Bay by Captain Henry Kellett of the British survey ship HMS Herald, and was later renamed for its location between Albert Head and the city of Victoria, and referred to its use as a roadstead, or exposed anchorage, where large sailing vessels could wait to offload cargo destined for Victoria. In 1883, a southeasterly gale swept through the anchorage causing several ships to go aground on the spit at Esquimalt Lagoon including Southern Chief, Gettysburg, Connaught, and Tiger.

Royal Roads University is a public university located on the grounds of the former Royal Roads Military College at Hatley Park National Historic Site. The university’s main building, Hatley Castle, was completed in 1908 for coal and rail baron James Dunsmuir, who was Premier of British Columbia and then Lieutenant Governor during the first decade of the 1900s. At the outbreak of World War II, plans were made for the British royal family to reside in Canada at Hatley Castle, however, they ultimately chose to stay in London. After the death of Dunsmuir, the family sold the estate to the federal government for use by the military. The institution had several names before it eventually became Royal Roads Military College in 1968. In 1995, the military college was decommissioned and Royal Roads University became a public degree-granting university. Read more here and here. Explore more of Esquimalt Lagoon here:

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