Ogden Point Breakwater and Docks

Where: Victoria, BC.

Engineer: Louis Coste, J.S. Maclachlan and D. Lafleur

Date of construction: 1917

Aerial view from 1969. (Source: Victoria Times Colonist September 10, 2017)


Under construction. (Source: City of Victoria Archives)


Poster at the plaque site. (Source: K. Baskin)


Site Location: Lat.: 48° - 24' - 53.5" N.: Long.; 123° - 23' - 06.3" W.; (GPS 48.414852, -123.385090). Access is in the James Bay area of Victoria. From the Victoria Conference Centre downtown, head south on Douglas Street for 1.4 km, then turn right (west) onto Dallas Road and continue for 1.3 km.

Plaque Location: The plaque is mounted on a concrete pedestal on the side of the walkway near the beginning of the breakwater.

Plaque located on the concrete pedestal on the right hand side of the walkway, June 2018. (Source: K. Baskin)


Breakwater Description: The 762 m (2500 ft.) breakwater protects the adjacent docks from southeast gales with a hook at the end to provide protection from southwesterly winds. It was constructed with a rubble mound foundation, concrete superstructure, and granite blocks protecting the seaside slopes. Over one million tonnes of rock was brought from quarries at William Head and placed on the seabed to form the foundation. Divers placed 10,000 granite blocks brought from quarries on Haddington, Nelson and Hardy Islands. The crest of the breakwater required 30,000 m3 (39,000 cu. yd.) of concrete.

Docks Description: The two docks, 274 m (900 ft.) and 201 m (660 ft,) long and 76 m (250 ft.) wide were designed using procedures that were novel for the time. Large reinforced concrete cribs (24 m (80 ft.)long by 10.6 m (35 ft.) wide by 11.9 m (39 ft.) high) were cast on shore, floated into place on rubble foundations that had been levelled with an underwater plough, filled with rock and gravel and then topped in concrete.

Historic Significance: Acting on a preliminary study by Louis Coste, the Canadian government decided in 1913 to improve the shipping facilities in Victoria. A breakwater and two additional docks were constructed in the outer harbour to take advantage of increasing trade in the Pacific, larger vessel sizes and the imminent completion of the Panama Canal. The work, costing nearly $5,000,000, was competed in 1917 despite the demands of the First World War.

The docks have supported a grain terminal, a fish processing and cold storage plant, lumber companies, and now the cruise ship industry.

The breakwater is also a popular walk for approximately 500,000 people each year.

Plaque detail, June 2018. (Source: K. Baskin)


Plaque Wording: National Historic Civil Engineering Site. OGDEN POINT BREAKWATER AND DOCKS. Constructed 1914-1917. A tribute to the engineers who created this important addition to the transportation infrastructure of Canada. The project used over a million tonnes of rock, more that ten thousand granite blocks, fifty three concrete caissons and one million cubic yards of dredged fill.

Design Engineer Louis Coste

Supervising Engineer J.S. Maclachlan

Chief Engineer, Public Works, Canada D. Lafleur

Contractor, Breakwater Sir John Jackson Ltd.

Contractor, Docks Grant, Smith and McDonnell

Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. 2001.

Site Historique National De Génie Civil. BRISE-LAME ET QUAIS À OGDEN POINT. Construction 1914-1917. En hommage aux ingénieurs qui ont créé cet importante élément d’infrastructure pour les transports au Canada. Sa réalisation a exigé plus d’un million de tonnes de roc, plus de dix mille blocs de granit, cinquante-trois caissons de béton, et un million de verges cubes de déblais de dragage.

Ingénieur concepteur Louis Coste

Ingénieur surveillant J. S. Maclachlan

Ingénieur en chef, Travaux publics du Canada D. Lafleur

Entrepreneur, brise-lame Sir John Jackson Ltd.

Entrepreneur, quais Grant, Smith and McDonnell

Société canadienne de génie civil. 2001.

Plaque Unveiling Ceremony: The plaque was unveiled on May 2, 2001, at the end of the CSCE Annual Conference held in Victoria by CSCE President Robert Loov, assisted by Victoria Councillor David McLean.

Links to Online Documentation:

Jeff Bell, “Celebrating a century at Ogden Point”, Victoria Times Colonist, 2017.

Thirty-fourth annual report of the Victoria British Columbia Board of Trade, 1913. (See page 17)

References not available Online:

Article from Engineering News Record (ENR) of August 7, 1915 – Concrete Cribs Used Successfully in Dock Construction at Victoria

Report from Louis Coste, Consulting Engineer to Eug. D. Lafleur, Esq., C.E., Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, Ottawa, Ont. - Victoria, Harbour, B.C., Outer Harbour – January, 1912. – City of Victoria Archives