Esquimalt's original native inhabitants knew it as "the place of shoaling waters", derived from a native Indian expression Es-whoy-malth.
Coast Salish Native people had inhabited the area for about 400 years before the arrival of European settlers. There has long been a village site near Ashe Head on the eastern shore of Esquimalt Harbour, where the Esquimalt Band makes its home today. The Songhees had lived on the west shore of Victoria Harbour prior to establishment of their nearby reserve in 1911.
Spanish explorer Don Manuel Quimper first arrived in Esquimalt Harbour in 1790, naming it Puerto de Cordova. Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor James Douglas visited Esquimalt Harbour in 1843 on a mission to seek a new site for their operations north of the 49th parallel. Establishing the new fort on the shore of Victoria Harbour, Douglas signed a series of treaties with local native people to acquire the area for the HBC, later establishing three farms to supply Fort Victoria and other HBC forts in the northwest with agricultural produce.
The municipality of Esquimalt, incorporated in 1912, has many heritage buildings and beaches with excellent views of Victoria Harbour and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Essentially one large peninsula, Esquimalt is bounded on the south by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the west by Esquimalt Harbour, and on the north by a long fingerlike inlet of tidal water called the Gorge.
The west coast base for the British Royal Navy as early as 1837, Esquimalt Harbour now houses Canada's own Pacific Naval Fleet. The Naval Base was formally authorized on June 29 1865, and was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910.
The natural harbour occupied by CFB Esquimalt supports the ships of the Canadian Pacific Fleet, with 4000 military service personnel and 2000 civilians working onboard ships or at the base. Add to this their families, and it can be seen that there is a considerable military community in the Victoria region. The base contributes about $340 million annually to the local economy. There is a rich naval history on the west coast of Canada, beginning in 1846, when the Royal Navy established a presence in Esquimalt, to the current operations of Maritime Forces Pacific.
Today, the residents of Esquimalt enjoy its many amenities, which include 29 hectares (72 acres) of beautiful parks, scenic waterfront walkways, recreational facilities, a superb golf course, shopping and restaurants.
Location: Esquimalt is located 2.5 miles (4 km) west of downtown Victoria at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbiia.
Esquimalt is the municipality immediately to the west of Victoria. It offers a variety of interesting contrasts in lifestyles with an abundance of parks, foreshore vistas and a marina.
Esquimalt has a strong mix of high quality residential properties, some excellent waterfront properties and a very active business community including a light industrial district. It has a well-established community spirit and all of its services were well-developed many years ago. Some of Esquimalt's most attractive residential areas are Saxe Point and Rockheights.
Esquimalt has a full range of recreational facilities including a curling rink, indoor swimming pool, recreation centre and the top-ranked Gorge Vale Golf Club.
Facing the western approaches from the sea, Esquimalt is a very pleasant and sun-filled location. It is home to the Department of National Defence and headquarters of Canada's Pacific Naval Fleet. Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt employs around 4,000 military and 3,000 civilian personnel, making it a significant contributor to Victoria's economy.
View map of the area: Map of Greater Victoria