Defensive Sites

Indigenous defensive sites in the Victoria area were in some cases fortified villages; in other cases, separate places of refuge used in times of hostility between Indigenous groups. These sites were usually located on the point of a raised peninsula, separated by a trench, two meters deep and several meters wide, across the neck of the peninsula.

A site of this type was located on Finlayson Point, immediately in front of Beacon Hill.

Another type of defensive site was located at Holland Point, near the southwest corner of the Park. This site was located on the edge of a steep bluff with a semi-circular trench extending in from the sea bluff. A similar one was located on the bluff at the northwest corner of Clover Point.

There is an interesting tradition about these village sites, recorded from an elderly Indigenous person in the mid-19th century.

The story tells of a disease that came one summer long ago (possibly a smallpox epidemic in the 1700s). Indigenous peoples living in the palisaded village at Holland Point fled into the hills while others took all their household belongings and winter food supply and moved to several houses within the palisaded village at Finlayson Point. In the spring, when the Holland Point people returned, they climbed into the Finlayson Point fort and found everyone dead in their houses. Relatives came and buried the dead in stone cairns on Beacon Hill.

Learn more in this Royal BC museum article by Grant Keddie: Aboriginal Defensive Sites



Be a friend of

Beacon Hill Park! 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software