The Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum is located at Naden on Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

The Museum’s goal is to collect, preserve, interpret and display the history and heritage of the naval presence on Canada’s West Coast.

Clare Sharpe is the Museum’s exhibit designer. “The artifacts are from the museum collection. The ideas are really centered around important events or dates within the history of the Canadian Forces, or individuals whom we like to focus on, and bring more attention to their careers.”

Retired Naval Captain Cecil Baker has been with the Museum from the very beginning.

“It started with a historical committee in the dockyard,” says Baker. “Seven people that started collecting artifacts for a potential museum in the future.”

Baker was one of those seven. “But I got posted out very early, about a year after I was on that committee, and I got posted to another job.”

So how challenging is it to create these exhibits?

“It takes a lot of time, you know, and a lot of work,” says Baker. “The big process is to think what you want to do, and then to really bring it to fruition you’re probably looking at a couple of years anyway.”

With the exception of a core staff of three, plus contractors hired to build some pieces of the exhibits, this military museum is entirely volunteer.

“We have an amazing range of people volunteering with us,” says Sharpe. “We have individuals with a great deal of background in history of the Canadian Forces, or who have served in the Forces themselves, but we also have people volunteering who have no connection to the military.”

Captain Mark MacFadyn not only volunteers as a tour guide, but is also overseeing the creation of a new exhibit.

“I’ve been working on this simulator project,” says MacFadyn. “It will be an interactive exhibit, for visitors to come through and get an idea of how the training goes for the navy with regards to the operation of ships.”

Sharpe is proud of this remarkable museum. “We really encourage people to come and see what we’re doing here. We believe it’s an excellent museum.”

Admission to the museum is by donation, but as Sharpe points out, “if people can’t donate, we’re still happy to have them here.”

Baker explains that visitors have come through the Museum doors from all over the world. “We’re getting people from as far away as Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, so the word is out there.”

But there’s one group of visitors Baker would like to see more of. “I would invite anybody from Victoria, because we don’t get a lot of Victoria people here.”

Just present valid photo ID at the CFB Esquimalt gates on Admirals Road, and you may proceed to the Naval and Military Museum.

Veronica Cooper