The CFB Esquimalt Museum is open on weekends and adds tours


CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.

The base museum is now open on weekends – and two summer students are offering free personalized tours!

The Naval and Military Museum at CFB Esquimalt is perhaps the best museum you will ever have the opportunity to visit, especially for those interested in naval and military history.

During the rest of the summer, until September 2, the museum will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., seven days a week. In recent history, the museum was only open on weekdays, but it hosted two summer students from the University of Victoria, James Coe and Matthew Kerr, who offer personalized weekend tours. The museum is full of interesting artifacts and stories about the Royal Canadian Navy and military past.

For more information about the museum, contact curator Tatiana Robinson at 250-363-4312 or assistant curator Joseph Lenarcik at 250-353-5655.

There’s a ton of cool stuff to see at the museum and here are the CFB Esquimalt curator’s favorite museum artifacts to get you started:

  • 1950s United Nations Flag: The museum has a handmade flag that was used by HMCS Sioux while en route to Korea in the 1950s. Yeoman George Mannix did this because they were sailing on a mission to the UN, but the UN flag was so new that they hadn’t given out any flags yet. The fabric for the flag is a blue woolen bunting with white canvas appliques made from whatever material is at hand as there was no UN flag available on the ship.
  • Wren Wind Jacket: It’s really cool to see this common commemorative Wren windbreaker jacket. The museum has a jacket worn by retired Wren Jessie Lane (Mableson). The jacket is embroidered with all the WRCNS meetings Mrs. Lane has attended, two ship badges are on the sleeves, ‘Huron’ and ‘Mackenzie’; his nickname “Jay” is also on the jacket. It really shows how important being a Wren was to Jessie. The reunions were a way for Wrens to keep in touch and remember shared experiences.
  • A Carley float: The Carley float was a reversible life raft invented by Horace Carley (1838-1918). It was used in both world wars and on many warships. It is made from a length of copper or steel tubing with compartments inside the tubing to make it rigid and buoyant. The one we have is in great condition and you can see all the survival supplies they would have carried. These small ships would increase survival rates at sea in the event of sinking due to attack.
  • Rescue diver suit, helmet and boots: Our wetsuit is truly amazing to look at. The rescue diver profession is inherently risky due to the many variables present when scuba diving with bulky equipment. The extremely heavy brass, glass and metal helmet we exhibited would have weighed heavily on the divers’ shoulders and they would have needed help putting on all that gear. It’s great to see something like that, it looks like it’s from another era.
  • A vintage sextant which was used between 1900 and 1950. This navigational instrument was used to take celestial navigational observations in a maritime setting. This was manufactured by Heath and Company in New Eltham, London, England; founded in 1845. What I like about this sextant is that it is a fine example of a precision scientific instrument. It is always a great backup for navigation when the GPS or electricity fails on board a ship.

CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum summer co-op students James Coe (left) and Matthew Kerr (right) stand next to an antique diver’s helmet from the museum’s collection. The museum is open on weekends all summer and James and Matthew offer free personalized tours. Photo by Hadley Parsons, CFB Esquimalt Public Affairs

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