‘Ghost tour’ set to light up Fort Rodd Hill

Visitors can step into history, thanks to military re-enactors

History lessons and live theatre come together for a fascinating tour of Canadian military history at Fort Rodd Hill’s 13th annual lantern tour.

Members of the Victoria-Esquimalt Military Re-enactor Association will set up scenes from varying points in Canadian military history on Saturday, Sept. 27 for visitors to observe and eavesdrop on, all while wandering the park’s hills and dales by lantern light.

“It’s like a ghost tour,” says Don Thomas, events co-ordinator for the association. “You, the visitor, see the re-enactors, but the re-enactors don’t see you.”

Visitors will get the chance to see Boer War veterans discuss the beginnings of the Great War, observe soldiers in tactical scenarios and perhaps experience a few surprises.

“There are some really cool visuals and things that are unexpected,” says Sophie Lauro, promotions officer for Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. “If you’re bringing kids, be aware that there may be loud noises.”

Each year sees a new set of vignettes, so it’s a unique experience whether one is brand new to the event or a long-time veteran.

Thomas, who’s been a re-enactor for close to 30 years, says the group’s members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including ex-military, local business members and university students. Anyone interested in portraying history is welcome to join the association, he adds.

The lantern tour, with its atmospheric lighting, period costumes and actors in full character, has been very popular in the past.

“A lot of regular visitors to the site come for that event specifically and they bring friends every year,” Lauro says. “It’s amazing, the knowledge and passion (the volunteers and re-enactors) bring here. It’s really like you’re standing back in time and you’re eavesdropping on what’s happening.”

The evening tours also give visitors the opportunity to see the historic site in a different light.

“It’s done at night and has that mystique to it. It gives you a whole different perspective being in the fort at night,” says Thomas.

With the sun down on the grassy area, Lauro cautions it can get cool.

“Dress for the weather and wear good shoes,” she says.

Guided tours leave every 15 minutes from 7 to 9:15 p.m. and admission is $10. To reserve tickets, call 250-478-4389.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com