New Brunswick

Groundbreaking ceremony held for New Brunswick Naval Memorial

The New Brunswick Naval Memorial will commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic, and honour those who lost their lives while serving at sea.

Saint John memorial could be completed and open to the public next fall, depending on funding

The New Brunswick Naval Memorial will commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic, which took place between 1939 and 1945, and honour all those who lost their lives while serving at sea. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

A groundbreaking ceremony for a memorial that will commemorate New Brunswick's role in the country's naval and maritime heritage was held in Saint John on Remembrance Day.

The New Brunswick Naval Memorial will be located at Harbour Passage near Fort La Tour.

On Thursday, officials turned the sod and outlined the vision for the project.

"The vision here is to have a memorial that educates, commemorates and honours those who contributed to the naval and maritime history of our great province," retired naval Capt. Paul Dempsey, chair of the N.B. naval memorial committee, said at the ceremony.

"This is really important to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of our nation." 

Construction is set to begin May 2 of next year, following Battle of the Atlantic Sunday, which commemorates the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in the battle.

Canada played a significant role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of the Second World War. 

When the memorial is completed, visitors will be able to learn more about the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as those who served as sailors, aviators, soldiers, merchant mariners, shipbuilders and port workers.

The memorial will have a replication of the bow of HMCS Saint John, adorned with anchors. At the stern of the bow will be inscribed, in memoriam, the names of the Royal Canadian Navy ships lost during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The location is considered ideal due to its scenic proximity to the Port of Saint John and HMCS Brunswicker, a Canadian Forces Naval Reserve Division.

The port was also considered ideal for the city's rich history of shipbuilding.

"We know that the Halifax class ships ... nine of the 12 were built right here in this city," said Dempsey, who commanded one of those ships, the HMCS Montreal. 

Completion of the project is dependent on funding, but the hope is that it can be wrapped up by fall of 2022.

The total cost is expected to be about $750,000, Dempsey said, noting that fundraising efforts have already got them halfway there.

"The fundraising continues and this project would not be possible without the support of the community," he said.

With files from Alexandre Silberman