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Gun Emplacement and Magazine, Lower Battery

Colwood, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/08/28

View of left gun emplacement of Lower Battery, 1997; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, J. Mattie, 1997.
Exterior photo
Entrance to Lower Battery Magazine, 2001.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, D. Mumford, 2001.
Interior of Magazine of the Lower Battery showing the left side of the shell storage area, 1997; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, J. Mattie, 1997.
Interior view

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 Lower Battery in the Gun Emplacement and Magazine are defined by the two U-shaped gun emplacements, their raised platforms and the open areas behind, including the perimeter walls and building. Consisting of an open gun emplacement which housed two disappearing six-inch guns and the subterranean complex of rooms of the Magazine, it is constructed of concrete formwork with 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 Lower Battery is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Lower 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 lower Battery is a very good example of a functional late 19th century design. The construction and use of materials are highly specialized to accommodate technical functions and equipment. These, along with its functional design reinforce its value. Following a standard Imperial pattern, the Gun Emplacement and Magazine has a sophisticated functionality in its symmetrical, low profile design around a sunken courtyard giving access to the below-grade magazine adjacent to the guns. The pleasing aesthetics derive from the varied profile and sweeping horizontal lines. Exposed walls of either concrete or brick and brick vaulted ceilings have high quality craftsmanship which contributes to the overall functionality of the design. The above-grade exposed concrete elements of the Lower Battery are the prominent defensible walls and gate bordering the north part of the site.

Environmental Value:
The simple low-cut grass cover of the landscape reinforces 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 Lower 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, British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 96-096; Lower Battery Gun Emplacement and Magazine, 603 Fort Rodd Hill Road, Heritage Character Statement 96-096.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Lower 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 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 Lower battery establishes the present character of the Fort Rod 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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