Description of Historic Place
Gun Emplacement No. 578 is strategically located on the southern brow of Signal Hill overlooking Esquimalt Harbour. The partially subterranean structure has low massing that is defined by the visible, above ground portions of the structure. It consists of a sunken magazine flanked by two raised gun-support bases encased in reinforced concrete. Two low, wooden structures stand on the gun emplacements. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Gun Emplacement No. 578 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Gun Emplacement No. 578 is associated with the defence of British overseas naval stations at the end of the 19th century and with the defence of Canada during the First World War. Notable as the last joint venture of the British and Canadian governments before the British garrison withdrew in 1906, the gun emplacement was the most powerful of several similar installations in the area.
Gun Emplacement No. 578 is an excellent and rare surviving example of a technologically advanced, pre-First World War defensive heavy gun emplacement. Technological advances include its early use of concrete, and also its shell storage and delivery system which served to meet the functional requirements in the storage of munitions and the mounting of artillery. Good quality of craftsmanship and superior materials and techniques are evident.
Gun Emplacement No. 578 sits on its unchanged prominent hilltop site with a magnificent unrestricted view of Esquimalt Harbour across to the Juan de Fuca Straits. It dominates the partially wooded summit as viewed from land. Its presence continues to reinforce the military character of the site.
Ian Doull, Signal Hill Gun Emplacement No. 578, CFB Esquimalt, Esquimalt, British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-050
Signal Hill Gun Emplacement No. 578, CFB Esquimalt, Esquimalt, British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 90-050
The following character-defining elements of Gun Emplacement No. 578 should be respected, for example:
Its functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-The simple, large, low massing of the partially subterranean structure.
-The massively reinforced concrete formwork, and the massive protective concrete shields protecting the loading area.
-The brick-lined magazines and the heavy steel plates tightly fitted around the gun mountings.
-The door and window fittings, ammunition elevators, and the steel staircases and platforms.
-The original layout and planning and the two low, wooden structures standing on the gun emplacements.
-The safety lighting behind recessed glass in the magazine.
The manner in which Gun Emplacement No. 578 reinforces the military character of Signal Hill as evidenced by:
-Its unchanged, prominent hilltop site with an unrestricted view of Esquimalt Harbour across to the Juan de Fuca Straits.