Thursday, August 11, 2022

Mom-Day Adventure: Greetje Dress at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Welcome to another Mom-Day Adventure, my friends! Today, Mom and I went to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, two historical sites just outside of town. 
Mom-daughter selfie! Grab yourself a beverage and settle in - I have a ton of pics of this gorgeous place (I hope you like lighthouses...and big guns). 

But first, the clothes. 
It's getting to be a challenge to wear something Mom hasn't seen, but that's also comfortable and appropriate for our adventure. 

  • Dress - Boden, pass-along from Greetje; first worn here in April with boots and turquoise
  • Shoes - Karl Lagerfeld; last seen here (2nd outfit) with Hawaiian pants in June

Thank goodness for Jammy Dresses! I first wore this dress - sent to me by the fabulous Greetje (visit her here) - when the weather was gloomy and cold.
I noted at the time that I was looking forward to wearing this in the heat of summer. 

I didn't have to sunblock anything but my face and hands! 
It's a full-coverage dress. 

I layered my new-to-me pink Esprit camisole (purchased here for $10.00, will not be tracked) underneath to deal with the slightly too low neckline. I also have my wee black sporty long shorts on underneath.
Massive pockets. I stashed my bus ticket and mask in one, and my camera in the other. 

Masked up. 
This is how I looked at the pub post-adventure and on the bus home. 

Incognito: add sunglasses 99% of the time.
I wore them on the bus as I like to people-watch. 

This dress is so voluminous, I need to make dramatic gestures in it. 
I didn't end up wearing the scarf like this. 

But I did wear it like this. 
Ready to swan about! 

I loved the gold bag with it. 

  • Purse - Aldo
  • Hat - consignment
  • Scarf - Alexander McQueen, consignment
  • Mask - by Mom

The scarf was a gimme. Match made in fashion heaven! 

The stuff: 
I wore toe protector/soles with these patent leather flats, just for a little bit of extra cushioning. We walked for almost two hours! 

Yellow and green bling:
A bunch of favourites. 

  • Belt - Liz Claiborne, vintage 80s, thrifted
  • Silver/aventurine ring - consignment
  • Silver/malachite ring - consignment
  • Earrings - vintage 1920s, vintage fair

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Okay, first I'm going to give you a bunch of links for exploring, as I'm not a historian: 
  • Parks Canada link to both sites here (history, things to do, etc.)
  • Quick Wikipedia summary here (Fort Rodd Hill) and here (Fisgard Lighthouse)
  • A good post here showing a local's experience at the Fort for a special occasion in the Before Times
  • An excellent history of the building of the lighthouse and its keepers here

All links 'cause I love, of course! 

Mom and I pulled in at the large parking lot in one of the many handicapped spaces, and paid our entry fee ($14 for both of us, very reasonable) at the entrance building on the right. 
I was horrified as we left when I checked the rates - I'd been charged as a senior (65+)! Gads, I've got 10 years to go! 

There are lots of official federal signs around. 
The park has undergone a massive transformation since I was last here - it's easily been 3.5 decades! I used to come here when I was a kid, and the whole family would walk around and then have a picnic on the lawn and admire the deer. There was no entry fee then (barely a gate), and you pretty much just walked around - not much was blocked off. I also came here as a teen with my girlfriend Janet and her family once or twice. 

I thought this statue was cute - there was a little boy posing with "Parka" the beaver. 
Apparently, she is Parks Canada's mascot.

Here's a map of the site. I've posted it again partway down so you can follow where we went. 
We started in the upper left corner. Oops, I forgot to mark "C", the Upper Battery, just below the parking lot. Just pretend I did. 

A general idea of where this all is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. 
To orient you, the blue square on the upper middle is Gorge Waterway Park that we did last week (here). The check-mark is downtown Victoria, and the "X" is approximately where I live. 

This is the entrance to the Upper Battery. 
I quickly dashed up the hill to see inside.

I went up the hill inside to the lookout.
Most recently, when this was an active base, the military was looking for Japanese submarines during WWII. Mom's family friend (my "uncle" Jack) was stationed at Albert Head (one point over) and he remembered seeing a sub - a similar vantage point to this.

As I strode up the hill, the mountains in Washington State in the US came into brief view.
It was a gorgeously warm day, with a light breeze tinged with a coolness, as we are literally right on the Pacific Ocean here. 

Albert Head, one point over, as promised. The water is Esquimalt (ask-WHY-malt) Lagoon. 
To the right is Royal Roads, where Mom and I visited back here in September 2021.

That is a big gun. 
We were surprised at how many people were at the Fort overall. Large groups of tourists and families - we chatted with a few. 

The entire place was very carefully restored recently, with handrails, signs (you can also do audio tours).
I was really happy to see that they've maintained that "keep it open" attitude.

The view from inside that lookout. 

Mom walked ahead while I did my quick detour.
I found a miniature replica of this gun that you could raise and lower. It was fun to play with.

This area always gave me shivers when I was younger. 
It's the Underground Magazine. A magazine is where you keep ammunition.

I am going down there! 
1896 - over 100 years old. 

The Lamp Room.
Classic brickwork. Victoria is full of buildings that look like this. 

I can't resist a cool archway.
Okay, the gates weren't there when I was a kid. 

But neither were the shells. 
Ammo for big guns.

Catching up with Mom. 
The fort is built onto the natural bedrock. Some parts of it are carved out of the rock. 

Big guns! 
Gun on wheels! 

The entrance to the Garry Oak Learning Meadow. 
This is a section of the park that used to be a large field, having been completed denuded of its natural plant habitat by those adorable deer I remember as a kid. 

It looked like that field on the left. 
That's more like what I remember. 

No deer allowed! 
They are total jerks, eating everything! 

Even in this wild section, the paths are wide enough for someone with poles or a walker to navigate. 
Mom had a great day, walking at a good pace, even after a strenuous physiotherapy session earlier this week. 

To give you a sense of scale. 
Big trees! This is the native habitat - and these are the same type of oaks that are in our front yard. I am very fond of them. 

As we came out of the learning meadow, we both gasped at the view as we looked south over the Lower Battery. 
That's a massive freighter on the right, and it looks menacing floating in the mist. I spy the tip of Fisgard Lighthouse. I must also go to that picnic table. 

A wee building off to the side. 
I think the Garry Oaks are winning. 

This is the Warrant Officer Married Quarters, built in 1897.
It was not open to visit. 
Families lived here! 

Looking towards the Lower Battery, with just a glimpse of the blue waters of Esquimalt Harbour (not the same as Esquimalt Lagoon) on the left.
It's all laid out so well, and superbly accessible. Most places had ramps too.

Here's the map again. We really are at the "You are here" spot.
We headed towards the Casemate Barracks (F) and the Fortress Plotting Room (G). I visited both briefly on the way back. 

Looking back up the hill. 
That blue sky! We didn't see a single deer, by the way. I think there were far too many people - I suspect they come out more at night, to terrify the people staying in the park (you can camp overnight, about it here).

On a less misty day, that view has a backdrop of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.
It's still pretty. 

I liked these trees.
So twisty! 

That's the entrance to the Plotting Room.
But we were headed for the water. 

Esquimalt Harbour. It's very much a working harbour, as you can see from all the cranes.
Canada's Pacific naval fleet is based here. 
Stuff about it. 
I like the old pictures. The upper one is "Esquimalt Harbour c. 1870"; a boat in drydock in 1889; Sea King helicopters and the HMCS Huron in 1991. I dated someone who was stationed on the Huron back in 1988! 

There we are, that's where I'm going. 
You can walk right down to the beach here. I wouldn't go in the water, though. Brrr...

To the right. 
Mom decided to rest on a bench while I did the lighthouse. 

I strode out on the causeway. 
The air buzzed with seaplanes. 

Looking east towards Sooke (rhymes with kook). 
You can just see the mountains along the horizon behind. 

Here's a zoom in. On clear days, you can see the mountains perfectly, snowcaps and all. 
Someone made a shelter out of driftwood. 

Looking back - that structure on the hill is the Searchlights. 
People were on the beach and clambering on the driftwood. Beyond is Esquimalt Lagoon - I see a line of cars driving by.

Looking back, I zoomed to see Mom. 
She could see me as I walked out. "You glided around with confidence." Yeah, I like to walk around like I own the place.

Near the edge of the beach, still looking at Esquimalt Lagoon to the right of the causeway.
That's some smelly kelp and seagrass. It's a classic scent of living near the ocean. 

There we are! Ta-dah! 
It's like a postcard. 

I like this shot. 
I was happy to discover that the keeper's house is open to the public and it's been converted to an "as it was" museum with interactive learning (videos and a game where you could steer your ship with a big ship's wheel). I also noted that an additional building had been converted to toilets - I do remember the dearth of them back in the day! 

Official sign. 
Fisgard Lighthouse

The first permanent lighthouse on the Pacific coast of Canada, Fisgard was erected in 1859-60 by the British and Colonial Governments to guide mariners into Esquimalt Harbour. Brought from England with the first lightkeeper, the lantern became operational on November 16, 1860, and in 1928 it was made automatic. Captain G.H. Richards, R.N. [Royal Navy], recommended this site on the island named for HMS FISGARD, on station in the Pacific from 1844 to 1947. 

View towards town. 
Remnants of some previous brick structure on the ground. 

Looking up at the tower. 
Visitors can't go into the tower (it's mostly solid). 

View from the base/ground floor of the house. 
The blue dot on the left is Mom! Hi, Mom! 

Inside. Isn't this lovely? 
All restored. I would totally live here. 

As I entered, I noticed that one of our navy vessels was leaving the harbour. 
It's HMCS Ottawa! About it here.

Back to the lighthouse. 
I like this spiral staircase. I think Vizzini would too. 

I walked back to Mom and we strolled uphill  to the Plotting Room. She kept going while I popped in and took a few snaps. 
There was an exhibit on Women in the Victoria-Esquimalt Defences. "The Proudest Girl in Canada!"

Inside the plotting room is a recreated slice of life during wartime. 

I then quickly had a look through the Casemate Barracks. 
Picnic benches out of the sun is a good idea. 

I liked all the old posters. 
Victory gardens! 

Old posters. "If the cap fits, wear it!" - encouraging women to enter the workforce. 
I'm not sure of the significance of all this furniture, though. 

The barracks weren't open, but I took a pic through the window. 
You can see my dress in the reflection at the bottom. 

Now a quick dash through the Lower Battery. 
This area is all graveled, not good for Mom's poles. 

Big gun! 
How to move the big guns around was a thing. 

I spy Mom! 
Thick walls! 

Looking at all the buildings sunken into the ground. 
So much of this you can just walk into. 

Should I be so shocked that people behave here? 
There was no graffiti, no security. Maybe the big guns keep the kids occupied? That round thing is where another big gun goes. 

Look at that view! 
There's fencing all around these dry fields, both for keeping out the deer and for curbing invasive plant species. 

I'm going in there! 
It might be spooky! 

Oh, definitely spooky! 
"I found a magazine!" I told Mom. She looked at my hands for it - "Not that kind of magazine."

We both agreed this is the "calendar shot." 
Come visit beautiful Victoria! 

I had a peek through the Guardhouse in the Lower Battery.

It might have looked like this. 
Very nice. 

This tiny place would rent for over $2,000 a month in my 'hood.
I love the pot-bellies stove. 

The kitchen. 
I spy a box of Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes! 

Mom was waiting for me at the Canteen. 
The areas on the buildings that are outlined in white have been restored. I like that. 

Let's have a peek in the Canteen. 
Yup, old building. 

What are those flags? Those are the Red Ensign and would have been used on various naval ships.
That first one would have been between 1892 and 1922 (about our flag history here). The designs in the shield represent the provinces that had joined the Confederation. 

This poster amused me - I had no idea Canada sent so many eggs to Britain! 
"Very little eggs for such a big bird." CANADA must do better. The Canadian Food Board has put an SOS across their sheaf of wheat in the lower right corner. 

This one made me giggle. 
Busy beavers! The beaver is our national symbol - it's on our 5-cent piece/nickel. 

These lovely folks were coming out of their office and the charming person on the left really loved my dress. I extolled the virtues of Jammy Dresses, and suggested that Parks Canada needed a dress variant. 
They were all so sweet, and Mom bragged that I had a blog, so hello! Thank you all for letting me take your picture! Thank you for running such an amazing and beautiful park! 

Mom and I were exhausted and parched by the time we made it to the 4 Mile Brewpub. 
It's a lovely place - from their site:

Four Mile Brew Pub has been serving Vancouver Island travelers fabulous fare for over 100 years. Housed within a 150 year- old Tudor style building located just outside downtown Victoria, Four Mile Brew Pub features the charm and elegance of an olde English Inn.

Mom and I, stuffed from our delicious late lunch. 
That was such an awesome day. Thank you, Mom! I love you! 

Vizzini, I'm home! 
"What? You were gone?"

You missed me, you know it. 
"I missed the quiet."

Such a liar, he loves the attention. 

And now, my friends, I shall leave you for the weekend. I'll be back on Sunday with tales of adventure! As always, I appreciate every one of you! Thank you for visiting.


  1. Loved that dress and I have decided Hubs and I are definitely going to take a vaca up there and see all this stuff.

  2. I love your dress! And those accessories pop so well with the print. I love bags so this one has such a unique style. I love to buy vintage pieces and new depending on what it is but this is lovely :) Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks, Heather! I think the Aldo bag was a knock-off of similar Gucci bags several years back.

  3. *sigh* *trying not to cry* I love your mom-adventure posts. Of course I love them for the joy they're giving you but also because they make me deeply nostalgic about similar events I had with my parents -- which I can't do anymore. That's what brings on the tears...

    1. Aw, honey...I'm so sorry to be causing you to dredge up old memories. *hug*

  4. Isn't Greetje's dress delightful? And it's absolutely perfect for swanning around these childhood nostalgia inducing historical sights. What a fantastic post, thank you for showing us around. You really do live in a most beautiful and interesting part of the world. I absolutely LOVE lighthouses and think they are utterly romantic, even if the reality of living in/near them would have been all but. xxx

    1. It was an awful lot of fun to wear - the reactions were awesome. I'm so glad you enjoyed it - it is a very different type of place. I also love lighthouses! Thanks, Ann!

  5. Thank you for the tour! I've never been to your part of Canada, but you're really making me think about it. You and your mom both looked lovely for your day out.

    1. Come visit! We'll go shopping! Thanks so much, Goody!

  6. Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse look absolutely brilliant for a Mum's Day adventure. Echoing everyone else, you live in such a beautiful and interesting place with so much diversity, lucky you! Greetje's dress is absolutely glorious on you! xxx

    1. It was so cool to re-visit a place I hadn't been to in SO long, Vix. Thank you!

  7. I remain impressed at the number of outdoor spaces within a short drive from your home. My grandson would especially have enjoyed exploring this park. And I am a fan of lighthouses. They are often picturesque and extra special when the interiors have been restored.

    Your growing and deep knowledge of Victoria highlights your love for your island home. Have you ever contemplated using some combination of that for your hand drawn art?

    And hello Sheila’s Mom!
    Cheers, Laurie

    1. We are so lucky to have so many historic and beautiful places here. I'm especially appreciative at all the work that's gone into keeping nature in a natural state too.

      That's a great thought! Maybe I'll do some trees or an ocean scene, although that always makes me think of tourist souvenirs, lol.

      Helen says hello back, Laurie!

    2. Ah, in the future I will say Hello Helen. :)

  8. What a beautiful outfit for a very fun day! it's incredible how much history you have around, and that you get to spend this time with your mum so often.

    We have a fort near here but I've never been, although my parents have taken the kids before. I really should go, if it's as fascinating as your fort!

    1. Thank you, Mica! I'm so grateful to have this time with Mom, and I'm thankful to live in such a beautiful place in the world.

      You should totally go!

  9. It is great how they restored the rooms with all the old shelves, food, etc! Your mum and daughter days are great!

    1. I love when places do that - it feels more real. Thanks, Laura, glad you are enjoying them.


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