1878 – 1893

It was not until 1878, however, when a crisis in Anglo-Russian affairs in the Balkans made war appear imminent, that the first coast artillery batteries were emplaced. The guns installed in these four batteries were all rifled muzzle loaders, mounted behind earthen ramparts, to protect both Victoria and Esquimalt harbours.64-pounder Rifled Muzzle Loader

To man these guns, the Victoria Battery of Garrison Artillery was formed and was officially gazetted as a unit of the Canadian Militia on July 20,1878. Six days later, the militia gunners fired their first practice round from a 7‑inch gun at Macaulay Point. The batteries could only be considered as temporary. Better guns, more carefully sited in strong emplacements and manned by a regular garrison supplemented by well trained local militia artillerymen, were required for permanent defence.

In 1883, The Victoria Battery of Garrison Artillery was reorganized to form two of the four batteries in a new unit, the British Columbia Provisional Regiment of Garrison Artillery. The decision was also made by the Dominion Government in 1883 to form a third permanent force battery as part of the Regiment of Canadian Artillery and to station it at Victoria. C Battery was not formed until 1887, owing to difficulties in recruiting. After arriving, the battery spent much of its time clearing the site of its barracks at Work Point and helping with its construction.

C Battery’s primary task was to train the local militia. This was a spasmodic affair, as on two occasions the battery was away for a number of weeks assisting the civil power to maintain law and order on the Skeena River and at Nanaimo and the battery was short of personnel. Low pay, lack of pensions and better paying local job opportunities all had their effect and few of the men reenlisted following completion of their first three years of service. Identical factors made it difficult to recruit replacements in Victoria. C Battery failed to provide the regular garrison needed at Esquimalt.