Esquimalt is justifiably proud of its many parks, each with an interesting history.
One of the oldest parks in the township is Transfer Woods, renamed Highrock Park (also known as Cairn Park) in the 1960s in conjunction with the development of the Rockheights subdivision.
The land, originally part of Constance Cove Farm and owned by a subsidiary of the Hudson Bay Company, was named “Transfer” because it was there that horses owned by the Victoria Transfer Company were transferred from the south side to the north side of the township.
In 1939, in order to pay property taxes, the company sold a portion of the property as building lots on the north side of Old Esquimalt Road while the school board purchased property as a future school site.
Early in the Second World War, more development occurred with the construction of wartime housing on the north slope of the land and the creation of Lockley Road and Hutchinson and Intervale avenues, with the latter two stopping right at the edge of the woods.
At 71 meters, the highest point in Esquimalt is located within the park and marked by a cairn erected in 1962 to commemorate the township’s 50th anniversary. Bronze plaques acknowledging the township’s long association with the military are imbedded in its stone base. This is given rise to the park often being referred to as Cairn Park.
Adjacent is the smallest natural area in the township, the one hectare Rockcrest Park once part of the original Transfer Woods. When added to Highrock Park, the township enjoys the natural beauty of more than eight hectares of protected land.
What better setting to remind us of the importance of preserving our natural surroundings. This year the township celebrated Earth Day by hosting a two-day community clean-up at Highrock Park, which included the removal of invasive species, the planting of native trees and shrubs, the laying of a new trail.
This has become an annual event with participation from local students, community groups, businesses, township staff and residents. And new team members – goats who assisted with invasive species removal. The event reminds us all that every day is Earth Day.
Greg Evans is an archivist with the Esquimalt Municipal Archives.