12th April 1859

From the Journal of Lt. Lempriere, RE, on board the Thames City on route to British Columbia.

12th Tuesday – Light breeze but fair:

We fired two guns when within some miles of Esquimalt harbour for a pilot.  He came off in a small boat pulled by two men.  The skipper did not heave to to take him on board and the pilot laid hold of the main sheet which filled the boat and capsized it.  He still kept his hold and the life boat being lowered he was taken in, as also the other 2 men who were hanging on to their own boat which was by this time half a mile astern.  We got them all safe on board and then went on.

We came to anchor in Esquimalt Harbour about 3 p.m.  I and Luard immediately went on shore to pay our respects to Col. Hawkins at the barracks, called the Pilgrim’s RestWrote a few lines while there to my mother telling her of my safe arrival and then I and Luard rode over to Victoria where we met Wilson of our Corps and Haig of the Artillery.  We dined with them at a restaurant and then went over to see Col Moody who told us all the news.

We did not leave him till about 9 p.m. and after some trouble we got our horses and started on our way back to the Barracks, it being dark we lost our way and thought we should stand a good chance of having to sleep in the woods, but we gave our horses their lead and to our great astonishment suddenly found ourselves back at the Pilgrim’s Rest, where they were beginning to think we had lost ourselves.  We had a cigar there and then went back to the old “Thames City”.

I got several letters which were sent to the “The Thames City” for me, but arrived too late.  I did not get any late news from home - 

There were 3 men of war in the harbour the “Brisbane”, “Satellite” and “Phylades” -

The country all about is incredibly beautiful and covered with timber, principally pine. The road between Esquimalt and Victoria which is 3 miles long is very rough and in some places so boggy that I thought my Horse would never get out of it.  Some of the bridges have planks broken here and there makes it rather dangerous.

The Pilgrim’s Rest Barracks form a very picturesque group of huts and are very comfortable inside.  A narrow path down a steep bit of hill leads to a retired corner in the Harbour, where our people keep their boats –

Notes: Pilots are men who intimately know a harbour, in this case, Esquimalt harbour.  They are required to guide a vessel into the harbour safely.

Colonel Hawkins was the commanding officer of the British Boundary Commission, primarily made up of Royal Engineers.  They had built a series of barracks and officer's quarters at Esquimalt which they named Pilgrim's Rest.  The Boundary Commission had been at Esquimalt since July 1858.

The large number of Men-of-War in Esquimalt harbour is not unusual as the harbour had recently been made the main base of the Pacific Squadron of the Royal Navy.  It had previously been Valparaiso, Chile.

The site of Pilgrim's Rest is now HMCS Naden naval and Military Museum, at CFB Esquimalt, the home of the Pacific Squadron of the Canadian Navy.