The island known as Fisgard is a stone’s throw offshore at the west side of the entrance to British Columbia’s Esquimalt Harbor. The island was named for a British naval frigate, with the name’s origins reaching back to Fishguard, a coastal town in Wales. The British Royal Navy began using Esquimalt Harbor as a base for its operations in Pacific Canada in 1848.
The lighthouse at Fisgard went into service on November 16, 1860. The 48-foot conical brick tower was surmounted by an iron lantern holding a fourth-order Fresnel lens that rotated on a mercury bed. The first keeper was George Davies, a native of Wales. He was the first full-time lighthouse keeper on Canada’s West Coast.
The light was automated in early 1929, and Fisgard ceased being an island in 1951 with the creation of a causeway from Fort Rodd Hill. Parks Canada completed much renovation of the station in the 1970s and 1980s, including the reconstruction of a boathouse and storehouse, and the keeper’s dwelling was converted into a museum. Shannon King is the curator for the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org