A little fixer-upper, needs a touch of paint, some insulation, some new siding, and a few other odds and sods.  Situated right on the beach, or well, near it anyways, this lovely little starter home looks out over some of the finest views on Vancouver Island.  It comes complete with a leaky rowboat that requires the owner to drag it out hundreds of feet across the beach to where you can launch it in the frigid cold waters of the Pacific Ocean…  and promptly sink.  OK, that last bit might not be a feature after-all.

Today’s post finds us launching a new photoblog series called “The Toads Storm The Hill” where we visit our local Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site.  In our feature article today we are going to take a look at one specific item in the park on display, and it’s a real doozy.

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 - Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 – Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Mrs. Toad and I have been adventuring all over Vancouver Island this summer, working on some pretty big projects that are mighty exciting.  As summer turns to fall and we find ourselves with a little more time in the digital darkroom, we’ll be rolling out a couple of new series that feature some of our landmarks and history.  One of our prime focuses this summer has been in photographing facilities and sites that have historic interest in terms of colonization and the militarization of the general area.  One of our most exciting projects has been the work we’ve been doing with a local expert in military history, and we’re going to be sharing some really interesting facts and photographs pertaining to the original forts created on the island as active colonization was underway and the people of the new land had concern for their safety.

As it turns out, all these preparations were for naught, as we have never been invaded and no shots have ever been fired from these forts in anger.

So, what are we looking at here, exactly?  This, my friends, is Searchlight Emplacement No. 6, one of what we understand were 17 such searchlights placed strategically around the shores of the lower island to illuminate the waters in case of attack.

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 - Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 – Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Our research on this searchlight revealed some interesting facts.

From Wikimapia: Searchlights

Defence Electric Light No 1 is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the upgrading of the night-time capabilities of the Esquimalt-Victoria coastal defence. It is one of two original defence lights (built in 1903) and an integral part of the Searchlight system.

So, it’s not really a cabin after-all then, is it.  I guess I need to cancel the moving trucks now.

Mrs. Toad and I actually purchased a season pass to the park as we plan to return often over the coming months.  The park is full of great displays and artifacts, including underground magazine bunkers, storage buildings, out buildings, scenery like that which you’ve never seen before, and a pair of really cool old searchlights.

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 - Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Searchlight Emplacement No. 6 – Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada –

You may wonder why an official searchlight would look like an old, drafty seaside cabin?  Well, that’s a fine question!  The basic idea here was if any enemy ships made it this far into the harbor area, they would see this and mistake it for a cabin.  The boat parked out front would be a dead giveaway, even though close scrutiny reveals that something strange is afoot here.  From a distance, with one eye closed and a heavy pitch on the deck of a moving boat, this would indeed look exactly like a cabin.  Pretty clever, if you ask us.

The front circular part of the structure has two doors on massive rollers that open, revealing a monstrous searchlight hidden inside.  From there, the light could easily be directed out over the open waters, pinpointing enemy ships for the batteries on the hill to promptly dispatch to Davy Jones’ Locker with nary a ceremony.

Our rich history never ceases to amaze Mrs. Toad and I, even though Vancouver Island has only been colonized for roughly 150 years or so there is a deep and interesting heritage here.  My generation has completely lived in peace on the island, we’ve known no wars or battles, and the history that has led us up to this point is no less interesting for it.  It’s one of our lifelong ambitions to document and share as many of these stories as we possibly can.

Thanks so kindly for your visit today.  We truly love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have.  Until next time, friends!

Please visit for further information: Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site.

  1. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Wonderful post. I so look forward to the new series you and Mrs. Toad have in the hopper, eh, works.

    What a slick and cool idea, strategically placing these “cabins” about the island. This really looks like a fun place to explore. Great shots as always. 😉

  2. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Love this bit of history Toad! These guys were pretty smart! So well told and such wonderful images my dear friend! I look forward to more in this series! 🙂

  3. avatar ehpem says:

    I am really looking forward to this series Toads. It is a very nice spot, with a lot of great views, so it is going to be great to see how you depict Fort Rodd Hill. And this is a very fine start.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much, kind sir, that means so much to us! We really appreciate you taking the time to visit and leave us your comments here! Perhaps one day in the coming months, you and I could sneak out and visit this place together, with your terrific skills in the ol’ photography department I am sure you’d come away with a ton of great shots!

      • avatar ehpem says:

        We should do that! It would be fun. One of my all time favourite pictures of my wife shot (by me) in the fort area just after we met nearly 30 years ago. A print of it just surfaced a few days ago.

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    I always love when you start a new series and by the looks of it this one is going to be very cool. Awesome shots Toad.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you Edith, that’s so very nice of you my dear friend, and we really appreciate it! This series is definitely going to be a long and big one, so strap your helmet on and stay tuned! 🙂

  5. avatar LensScaper says:

    A fascinating piece of history, Toad. Seems to me there’s one slight fault in the thinking behind this defence. One quick direct hit on that cabin and it’s ‘lights out’ and enough kindling sticks for a good few years of winter fires!.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Bwaaaaahahah!! 🙂 OK, that’s awesome right there, Andy, what great comments! Hmm, I think you’re right on that my friend! Thank you so much for popping on by and leaving these terrific comments I am sure will make everyone laugh out loud!

  6. avatar Rich McPeek says:

    Terrific post and beautiful photos my friend!!