Esquimalt’s Buccaneer Days enjoy centennial flair

People encouraged to wear circa-1912 or pirate costumes this weekend

Esquimalt resident Reuben Rowan

Bob McKie is temporarily trading in his top hat for a pirate captain’s hat, a sure sign that Esquimalt’s annual Buccaneer Days are fast approaching.

The event co-organizer and municipal councillor has been attending a bevy of special events this year in his circa-1912 top hat, cane and suit, to mark the township’s centennial year.

But, for this weekend only, he will don his trusty pirate costume and embrace his inner buccaneer for the annual community fair, Thursday (June 7) through Sunday.

“I only have one weekend to wear a pirate’s outfit,” said McKie, who has helped organize the festivities for more than two decades. “So I take full advantage of that.”

To mark the township’s 100th birthday and officially kick off Buccaneer Days, 500 CFB Esquimalt personnel will exercise their right to the Freedom of the Township, by marching along Esquimalt Road on Thursday, beginning at noon.

Base commander, navy Capt. Craig Baines, will lead his contingent to municipal hall at 1229 Esquimalt Rd., where he will be challenged by Victoria police Chief. Const. Jamie Graham.

Baines will then rap on the door to the hall three times, at which point Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins will answer and invite the commander inside.

The military last conducted the ceremonial march in 1972 in honour of Esquimalt’s 60th birthday.

A non-stop lineup of events is planned for Buccaneer Days, in and around the Archie Browning Sports Centre and Bullen Park.

Saturday will feature a Lion’s Club pancake breakfast, parade and rugby tournament, the midway, food booths, a beer garden, a dance and a movie, as well as the sale of baked goods, tea, plants and arts and crafts.

Children’s events that day include a pirates den from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and children’s races at 2 p.m. The annual ladies nail-driving contest happens at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, festivities include sales and displays in the sports centre, sports on the green, food booths, a midway, as well as a skydiving contest and free pony rides for children.

The pirate-themed fair, carnival rides and games are a highlight for many youngsters who attend the weekend event with their families, including six-year-old Reuben Rowan of Esquimalt.

Pirates are great, he said with a grin, because they have swords and “they find treasure.”

For a full lineup of events, visit


Better than grog

A special brew named Shoaling Waters, developed for Esquimalt’s centennial, will be unveiled this weekend.

“The logic behind it is that India Pale Ales were the beers that were shipped from the English Midlands to the colonies,” said Spinnakers Pub owner Paul Hadfield, whose roots in the township run deep.

His grandfather arrived from England in the 1920s and later served as Esquimalt reeve.

“We thought that given the naval background in Esquimalt, the sea-faring aspect (and my family connection), this would be a really fun style of beer to do to help celebrate 100 years,” he said.



Thursday, June 7

Freedom of the Township March, Esquimalt Road: noon

Friday, June 8

Seniors barbecue at Archie Browning Sports Centre, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Midway, behind Archie Browning Sports Centre, 3 to 11 p.m.

Saturday, June 9

Wakey Wakey wake-up call: 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Lion’s Club pancake breakfast, sports centre: 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Rugby 7s tournament, Bullen Park: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Buccaneer parade, Esquimalt Road: 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Midway: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Beer garden, Bullen Park: 3 to 6 p.m.

Community dance, sports centre, 7 p.m. start

Free movie at Bullen Park: dusk

Sunday, June 10

Mini-tyke lacrosse tourney: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Midway: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tillman Briggs mini-rugby jamboree: 11 a.m. to noon

Free pony rides: noon to 4 p.m.

Scouts Canada pie-plate sales for skydiving contest: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Skydiving at Bullen Park: 3 p.m.

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