The Maritime Museum of BC first opened its doors to the public in 1955 as a naval museum located on Signal Hill just outside the gates of the HMC Dockyard in Esquimalt. By 1965, the museum had outgrown the original location and found a new home in the former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square − the oldest surviving Courthouse in the province and still in operation today!
The late 19th century building is not only noted for the Courthouse and its connection with the infamous former Chief Justice Matthew Baillie Begbie, aka “The Hanging Judge”, but also for housing the oldest continuously operating open-cage elevator in the province.
The Maritime Museum of BC represents a rich and vast link to the province’s legal and nautical roots. Here, among a superb array of artifacts, you will find fascinating displays on Pirates, Heritage Vessels, Shipwrecks and Featured Exhibits. It is also home to three very singular sailboats − Dorothy, Trekka and Tilikum − each with their own incredible story of adventure and enchantment.
The museum cares for over 35,000 unique artifacts, in excess of 40,000 historical photographs and an internationally recognized chart collection. As well, the museum also runs popular public and school programs featuring such topics as immigration, pirates and privateers, women at sea and fur trade. In addition, the museum provides Pirate School to train young minds to be the best of the worst.
“To promote and preserve our maritime experience and heritage and to engage people with this ongoing story.”