Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse: Must-See Heritage Attractions

A stop at the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites is a step back in time. Discover this gem on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Esquimalt Harbour. 

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Fort Rodd Hill

Fort Rodd is an artillery fort that was built in the late 1890’s to defend the Esquimalt Navy Base (home of Canada’s pacific naval fleet) and ultimately the region of Victoria. When you visit this historic site, you can tour through original 19th century buildings, secret bunkers, guardhouses, barracks and command posts. There are several interpretive signs and audio-visual stations that provide visitors with informative snippets and personal stories of soldiers and their families to enhance the visit. 

One of my son’s favourite activities is the area where the toy wooden guns are available for imaginative play of defending the post. 

The Fort Rodd Hill artillery fortress was on active duty from 1895 until 1956. 

Now visitors are welcomed year-round to visit, tour and even stay on site. That’s right, you can camp overnight in an oTENTik. What is an oTENTik? Exclusive to Parks Canada, these structures are a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent. They are heated, can sleep up to 6 and come equipped with:

  • A table with seating for up to six people
  • Electricity and table lamp
  • Cooking equipment, dishes and utensils
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Picnic table and lounge chairs
  • A propane fire pit (propane included)
  • Common service buildings with flush toilets, water taps, fridges and freezers
  • Shared propane BBQ and accessories (propane included) 

Staying overnight in an oTENTik offers guests a taste of life when soldiers were stationed at the fort and their families inhabited Fort Rodd Hill during their summer camp-out. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of nature and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean all within the historical walls of the fort. Payable fees to enjoy this incredible experience include an accommodation fee, a reservation fee plus the historic site entry fee. There is free parking for up to 2 vehicles (just outside the fort walls) and an on-site, overnight camp host. Visit Parks Canada for details. 

Other activities happening throughout the summer at Fort Rodd Hill include:

  • Camp-in movie night – come for the outdoor movie with an option to tent (make arrangements in advance)
  • Canada Day celebrations
  • Learn to Camp - guests will learn how to pitch a tent, start a fire and stay safe around wildlife
  • Star Gaze through large telescopes brought in by the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Water Gun Wars - Victoria’s largest water gun battle 
  • Lantern Tours – an exclusive, after-dark guided tour

NOTE: Dates for 2021 may be impacted by closures due to COVID-19

Fisgard Lighthouse

Just a 10-minute walk from the gates of Fort Rodd Hill proudly stands Fisgard Lighthouse – Canada’s first permanent lighthouse on the west coast. Built in 1860, the lighthouse is still functioning but has not been home to a keeper since the light was automated in 1929. The former keeper’s house has been transformed into two floors of exhibits covering subjects such as shipwrecks, storms and equipment of the lightkeeper. The lighthouse itself is also open to the public and totally worth the stair climb for the sense of history it evokes. You’ll also be treated to scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and snow-capped Olympic Mountains when you reach the top! Entrance fee for Fisgard Lighthouse is included in the admission price for Fort Rodd Hill (approximately $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and youth under 17 are free).

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse are two of the top heritage sites in Greater Victoria and well worth a half to full-day visit.  

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