Colwood is a city located on Vancouver Island to the southwest ofVictoria, capital of British Columbia. Colwood was incorporated in 1985 and has a population of approximately 15,000 people. Colwood lies within the boundaries of the Victoria Census Metropolitan area or Capital Regional District, in a region called the Western Communities, or the West Shore. It is one of the 13 component municipalities of Greater Victoria.
One of Colwood’s best known landmark is Hatley Castle, now home to Royal Roads University. It is a Scottish Baronial mansion and grounds originally built as a residence for James Dunsmuir, Premierand later Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Colwood almost became the seat of the Crown of the Commonwealth realm in 1940, when, after the start of World War II, the government planned to relocate King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and their children, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, to the castle for protection.But they decided to stay in London and Windsor, near the European front. The government transferred the estate to the Canadian Armed Forces. It adapted the site for use as Royal Roads Military College, a naval training facility from 1941-mid-1990s. The military college was closed in the 1990s, and the estate is now the campus of the public Royal Roads University, which opened in 1995. The original residence is surrounded by extensive formal gardens, including a featured Japanese garden.
The Fisgard Lighthouse in Colwood is one of Canada’s National Historic Sites. There hasn’t been a keeper here since the light was automated in 1929, but every year many thousands of visitors step inside a real 19th century light and capture some of the feeling of ships wrecked and lives saved. Built by the British in 1860, when Vancouver Island was not yet part of Canada, Fisgard’s red brick house and white tower has stood faithfully at the entrance toEsquimalt Harbour. Once a beacon for the British Royal Navy’s Pacific Squadron, today Fisgard still marks home base for theMaritime Forces Pacific of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Colwood is also home to historic Fort Rodd Hill, another Canadian National Historic Site. Built by the British in the 1890s, this coast artillery fort was designed to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. Visitors come to explore the three gun batteries, underground magazines, command posts, guardhouses, barracks and searchlight emplacements that are the vestiges of a bygone era. Set on a wide open waterfront park near the Fisgard Lighthouse, visitors can see the sea and mountain views, go for bird watches and investigate the tide pools along the shoreline.
The city has many regional amenities, including the City’s waterfront at Esquimalt Lagoon which includes a National Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, The Q Centre, Royal Colwood Golf Club, Olympic View Golf Club and the library facilities for the Western Communities. As it lies geographically to the south of Victoria, Colwood is western Canada’s southernmost city.