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Gun Emplacement and Magazine, Upper Battery

Colwood, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/08/28

Exterior view of Upper battery showing the left gun emplacement, 1997.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, J. Mattie, 1997.
Exterior photo
View of the main entrance to the Upper Battery Magazine showing the steps going down into the entrance well, protected by pipe railings. The window of the crew shelter is also depicted in the photograph, 1997.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, J. Mattie, 1997.
Exterior photograph
View of the Upper Battery gun emplacement showing the 1897 original five ton gun barrel, 2003.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, C. Cheadle, 2003.
Exterior photograph

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1895/01/01 to 1898/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Upper Battery is defined by the U-shaped gun pit, raised platform and the open areas behind, including the perimeter walls and building. Consisting of an open Gun Emplacement with two disappearing six-inch guns and the subterranean complex of rooms of the bombproof Magazine, it is constructed of concrete formwork and a small amount of stonework used for retaining walls. The ammunition hatch, the two storage recesses with doors on either side of the drum, the small crew shelter of the right gun emplacement, the stairwell, the right depression range-finder position, and the loopholed defensible walls on the landward sides are all visible. The entrance to the bombproof magazine is visible as an entrance off the courtyard. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Upper Battery is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Upper Battery is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the build-up of naval facilities and renewal of existing buildings on the west coast of Canada during the period of joint Imperial-Dominion defence planning from 1871-1906. The building is an integral part of the coastal defence system for the Royal Navy base at Esquimalt.

Architectural Value:
The Upper Battery is a very good example of a functional late 19th century design. The pleasing aesthetics derive from the varied profile and sweeping horizontal lines. The construction and use of materials are highly specialized to accommodate technical functions and equipment. These, along with its functional design reinforce its value as a specialized coastal artillery structure. Following a standard Imperial pattern, the Gun Emplacement and Magazine has a sophisticated functionality in its symmetrical, low profile design. Its exposed walls of either concrete or brick and its brick vaulted ceilings have high quality craftsmanship and reinforce the overall functionality.

Environmental Value:
The simple low-cut grass ground cover of the landscape emphasizes the rolling terrain of the site. The park-like setting is unchanged and the integration of the structures with natural features is a characteristic feature of the Upper Battery. The structure establishes the coastal defence setting of Fort Rodd Hill, which overlooks Esquimalt Harbour to the east, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south.

Joan Mattie, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgarde Lighthouse Historic Sites, 603, Fort Rodd Hill Road, Colwood, B.C. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 96-096.
Upper Battery Gun Emplacement and Magazine, 603 Fort Rodd Hill Road, Heritage Character Statement 96-096.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Upper Battery should be respected.

Its functional military design and good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
-the simple low scale, low to grade massing;
-the simply detailed concrete formwork;
-the stonework used for the retaining walls;
-the steel pipe guard rails on the edge of the stairwells;
-the original wooden entrance doors with their solid plank construction and their heavy iron hardware;
-the two-over-two sash windows;
-the simple interior finishes of wood V-joint paneling;
-painted masonry with radiused brick edges;
-thin metal vault sheeting;
-utilitarian wood fittings.

The manner in which the Upper Lower establishes the present character of the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

British Royal Engineers



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada is a 19th and 20th century coastal defence site strategically located on Esquimalt Harbour near Victoria, British Columbia. It…


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