Fort Petrie (1914-1956) - A Canadian coastal fort established in 1914 during World War I on a cliff overlooking the entrance to Sydney Harbor in present day Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The site experienced at least two different periods of activity, World War I (1914-1917) and World War II (1940-1948). Last deactivated in 1956. Deactivated and disarmed in 1956.
World War I (1914-1918)
Part of the Harbor Defense of Sydney.
World War II (1939-1945)
The fortifications were constructed in 1939-1940 by contractor E.G.M. Cape and Company at a cost of $105,000, however it was not the first military installation on the site. In the eighteenth century the site was the location of a block house, built to defend the harbour. The current fort was erected in response to the growing threat of German invasion, and to protect merchant ships and convoys. At the time of World War II, the role Sydney Harbour played in the protection of local industry (coal, steel, and cod fish), convoys and naval ships was second only to Halifax. Sydney Harbour was to be the home of the British Navy in the event of a successful German invasion of the British Isles.
During the war, Fort Petrie consisted of above ground facilities including temporary gun placements, two reinforced concrete gun emplacements, a four story concrete BC/Fire control station originally disguised as a church, a radar and communications tower (C.D.X. tower), and a powerhouse.
Below ground was a two-storey, multi room complex housing a pair of ammunition magazines, an artificer's workshop, three elevators for ammunition, two main stairwells, two escape tunnels (in case of fire), mess facilities, gun keep, artillery stores and recreation facilities. The site also included two Coastal Artillery Search Lights (CASL) that were powered by independent diesel electric generators housed underground.
Two 4.7-inch MK7 quick-firing (QF) guns were emplaced in the concrete gun emplacements. These two guns were replaced with two 4-inch twin barrelled MK16 guns in 1944. A 6-pounder Hotchkiss gun was emplaced in 1943. A CDX fire control radar was added to the top of the tower in 1944. A similar battery was constructed across the harbor at Chapel Point Battery during the same time frame.
The fort was decommissioned in 1956. The communication tower was demolished in 1968, however a 1991 injunction prevented further destruction of the site following public out-cry. Restoration was started and in 1998 Fort Petrie became a museum commemorating veterans and the role fortifications along the coast of Cape Breton. It remains a local landmark and a testament to the vital role Sydney Habour played in the defense of Nova Scotia and Canada.
Operated by Sydney Harbour Fortification Society near New Victoria, Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Museum in the BC/Fire Control tower. The remaining structures are well kept and mostly labeled. No pertinent gun displays.
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Visited: 7 Jul 2013