Considering Victoria’s long naval and military history, with Esquimalt having been established as a military base by the British in the late 1800’s, it’s something of a wonder that the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum is not more well-known. Located a stone’s throw away from the main gate at Naden, closer to the intersection of Colville Road and Admirals Road, the museum is open from Monday to Friday, and is staffed by volunteers whose knowledge of our military history really indicates that they are dedicated to preserving it.
The museum isn’t nearly as big as some of the more popular museums in Victoria, but each room is filled to the brim with artifacts, comprehensive displays and historical information.
Highlights of CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum
- Government-issued I.D needed for base entry
- Museum focuses on the four military groups with the greatest historical impact: Canada’s Navy on the West Coast, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, and the West Coast Defences
- Museum acts as an archive for local military historical artifacts, photos and documents
- Self-guided or guided group tours available
- Admission is by (low) suggested donation
The CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum is not just for adults, either. There is a fun kids’ area, with interactive displays and activities geared toward teaching them in a more age-oriented, engaging way. What stands out the most about this place is not simply their very obvious passion for preserving Victoria’s military and naval history, but also their willingness to educate the public in order to ensure that that knowledge carries on.
Social Responsibility at CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum
Although the cost of individual admission is really low, at a mere couple of dollars, the cost of a guided group tour ($75) can seem substantial to groups with limited funding. To this end, the museum likes to take a more socially responsible approach. For organizations that support veterans, people with disabilities, youth or educational groups, the staff at CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum will often waive the fees, in order to allow that group easier access. All they need to do is ask! No matter what the group is, however, it’s important to note that group tour absolutely must be booked at least 1 to 2 months in advance. Because the museum is run entirely by volunteers, there is no way to guarantee the availability of tour guides.
The museum is not publicly funded, which means that all operations are conducted through donations. These donations allow the museum to engage in research projects, improve and maintain its collection, and add new exhibits when possible. Also because of the fact that it operates on donations, this museum is a not as “out in the open” as some of the bigger ones in Victoria. Thus, it ends up being one of those hidden treasures that make Victoria such an amazing place to live.