Feature Type:District Municipality (1) - A populated place with legally defined boundaries, incorporated as a district municipality under the provincial Municipal Act.
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Pronounced: esk WHY-malt
Relative Location: Just W of Victoria, Esquimalt Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 48°25'47''N, 123°24'52''W at the approximate location of the Municipal Hall.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92B/6

Origin Notes and History:

Incorporated as a District Municipality 1 September 1912, to be called the Corporation of the Township of Esquimalt. "Esquimalt (Municipal District)" adopted in the 18th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1924; name re-approved 1 May 1934 on National Defence sheet 415a, Victoria (Ottawa file OBF 1449).

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

" [Esquimalt Harbour:] An adaption of its Indian name. In a report on Vancouver Island, dated 12 July 1842, by Mr. James Douglas to Dr. John McLoughlin, chief factor, at Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, this harbour is spelt Is-whoy-malth. The late Mr. J.W. McKay, of the Indian Office, Victoria, gives the Indian meaning of the word "A place gradually shoaling" ie. the flats at the mouth of Sawmill Creek. Lieutenant Quimper, of the Spanish Navy, anchored in Esquimalt Harbour 30 June 1790, and named it Puerto de Cordova, after Don Antonio Maria Bucareli y Ursua Henestrosa Lasso de la Vega Villacis y Cordova, the 46th viceroy of Mexico. This is the first recorded visit of any vessel to the port.... A survey of the harbour was made in 1847 by Lieut Cmdr James A. Wood, HM surveying vessel Pandora, assisted by Mr. R.M. Inskip, naval instructor, HMS Fisgard (Captain John A. Duntze), when the point and islands, etc around the harbour were all named after the officers of the Fisgard." [see Walbran for additional detail...]

Source: Walbran, John T; "British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: Their Origin and History"; published for the Geographic Board of Canada, Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)

An Indian name, originally "Is-whoy-malth," which means "the place of gradually shoaling water." This name applies particularly to the tidal flats at the head of the harbour.

Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997

Native people of the Coast Salish linguistic group had used the area now known as Esquimalt for approximately 400 years before the advent of European settlement. Approximately 11 loosely affiliated groups occupied the lands between Sooke and the Saanich Peninsula. The Victoria Treaties, signed in 1843 between the Hudson's Bay Company and local native leaders indicate that at that time the Esquimalt Peninsula was the territory of the Kosampsom group. There has long been a village site near Ashe Head on the eastern shore of Esquimalt Harbour and this is where the Esquimalt Band makes its home today. Another group, the Songhees, have a reserve nearby, established in 1911. Prior to 1911, the Songhees had lived on the west shore of Victoria Harbour.
The first European to enter Esquimalt Harbour was the Spanish explorer Don Manuel Quimper, who arrived in 1790 and gave it the name "Puerto de Cordova". Hudson's Bay Company Chief Factor James Douglas (later Governor of the Crown Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia) visited Esquimalt Harbour in 1843 on his mission to seek a new site for the HBC's operations north of the 49th parallel. Although Douglas established the new fort on the shore of Victoria Harbour, he evidently saw the agricultural potential of the land that is now Esquimalt..... [see additional information about the HBC farms, the Royal Navy presence, impact of the gold rush and early settlement, on the District of Esquimalt's own website ]

Source: included with note