Nova Scotia

Restoration saves 'derelict' WW II-era battery in Sydney Mines

A Second World War-era fortification in Sydney Mines, N.S., is being restored to its former glory. The battery was not in good shape after it was plagued by vandals for years.

Chapel Point Battery was 1 of 7 fortifications protecting Sydney harbour from U-boats in Second World War

During the war, the guns were placed on the cement structure, ready to attack any emerging U-boats. (George Mortimer/CBC)

A fortification in Sydney Mines, N.S., built to protect Sydney harbour during the Second World War is being restored to its former glory.

Construction on Chapel Point Battery is finishing up and the exterior walls, roof and interior all received some work. 

The restoration is being funded by the federal and provincial governments along with another sponsor, the Atlantic Memorial Park Society.

A fortification was located in this area for many years, but the most recent structure was built in 1939 to defend against the German navy.

The historic battery has been restored and will open to the public next year. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Cyril Aker is with the Atlantic Memorial Park Society. He said the battery was not in good shape. 

"It was just a derelict building which withstood a lot of vandalism over the years," said Aker.

The battery was one of seven fortifications constructed around Cape Breton during the Second World War. More than 7,500 ships were assembled in Sydney harbour and sent in convoys to the United Kingdom during the war.

Aker said Chapel Point was a strategic military placement to protect Sydney harbour.

"This one was particularly important because they had the view of the entire harbour and any enemy submarines that were coming through could be detected," said Aker.

Protected coal and steel industry

Brian Ferguson, also with the Atlantic Memorial Park Society, said this battery was an extremely important site.

"This site was one of the fortifications that protected those convoys and the coal and steel industry here from attack from U-boats," said Ferguson.

Cyril Aker, left, and Brian Ferguson are part of Atlantic Memorial Park Society, which is helping to pay for the renovations. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Ferguson said the battery's restoration was only the first phase in a project where they plan to develop a few sites on the Northside.

They also plan to build a Mi'kmaw cultural site and a family park around a beach area in the coming years. It is all a part of the Atlantic Memorial Park Development.

Ferguson said there will be another military-related monument called a Canada Remembers site.

"That will be an area where Canadians can view replicas of all the overseas monuments that are erected where Canadians fought and died during the war," said Ferguson.

The Chapel Point Battery will be opening to the public in 2021 as a museum that will show what it was like to be stationed there during the war. It will have artifacts and pictures from the war and from the site. 

This undated aerial photo shows the site of the battery. (Submitted by Cyril Aker and Brian Ferguson)

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With files from George Mortimer and Information Morning

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