The Artillery in Victoria, Company versus Crown

There are three periods of activity to consider when discussing the presence of artillery in Victoria:

  • Colony of Vancouver Island period – prior to 1866
  • Colony of British Columbia period – 1866 to 1871 (in 1866 the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia merged to become the Colony of British Columbia), and
  • Province of British Columbia period -1871 to date, (in 1871 the Colony of British Columbia joined Confederation – terms union included a provision for defence of BC)


Generally, artillery has been in Victoria since the establishment of the bastion for the Hudson’s Bay Fort Victoria in the 1800’s which predates the Colonial period. The artillery guns that were manned at that time were the property of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and manned by the HBC. When the Bastion was taken down in the 1850’s, the artillery pieces were removed. The artillery capability (a colonial capability vice a private company one) was re-established in 1861-2.


Supporting records which document the presence of artillery are held in at least six locations:

  • Hudson’s Bay Archives – Winnipeg,
  • Public Records Office Westminster Great Britain,
  • National Archives Ottawa,
  • Provincial Archives of BC,
  • 5th (BC) Regiment Archives, and
  • Parks Canada.


As a consequence the tracking of the history of artillery in BC is necessarily challenging….


From that date some early example anniversary dates for formation/reformation/upgrading artillery capability are as follows:

  • 1861-2 formation of Rifle and Artillery Companies
  • 1878 formation of Victoria Battery (celebrated in 2003)
  • 1883 12 Oct – formation of BC Provisional Regiment of Garrison Artillery through amalgamation of Victoria batteries and other units,
  • 1886 name changed to BC Brigade of Garrison Artillery
  • 1893 name changed to BC Battalion of G.A.
  • 1896 January, name changed to 5th Regiment, C.A.


There are many anniversary dates for the artillery in Victoria…. they reflect the many changes in need for protection of Victoria and environs over the years.