Description of Historic Place
Fort Petrie is a World War II era fortification site at New Victoria, Cape Breton, built to guard Sydney Harbor. Fort Petrie includes an observation post and gun batteries and several below ground fortifications. The buildings and underground fortifications are all included in the designation as well as the surrounding property.
Fort Petrie is valued historically as it played a significant role in the defense of Sydney Harbor during World War II. It is also valued for its associations with the Allied efforts to protect North Atlantic shipping routes.
Working in conjunction with the Chapel Point Battery, located across the harbor, Fort Petrie guarded Sydeny Harbour. Because of its proximity to the cod fishery, coal mines and the entrance to central Canada through the St. Lawrence River, Sydney Harbor was a strategic defense location, second only to Halifax. Fort Petrie was built in 1939 by E.G.M. Cape and Company to protect not only departing convoys, but local industry, which was vital to the war effort, and naval ships at nearby Point Edward Naval Base from German submarine that patrolled waters surrounding eastern Canada.
Fort Petrie consisted of a battery observation post, gun placements, searchlights, a radar and communications tower, powerhouse, and an extensive underground system housing machine shop, ammunition bunker, armory, and unidentified areas. Fort Petrie was the last of the Sydney Harbor fortifications to be decommissioned in 1956. The communication tower was demolished in 1968. The Sydney Harbor Fortification Society bought the fort in 1991 and in 1998 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada chose this site to place a plaque commemorating the “Atlantic Bulwark." A museum is now contained in the battery observation post dedicated to the history of the site.
Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 242.
Character-defining elements of the fortification at Fort Petrie include:
- location of the fort within Sydney Harbor and across from Chapel Point Battery;
- all remnants of the temporary and permanent gun emplacements, underground, gun watch and artillery store, powerhouse, topping gun and bren gun emplacements, the searchlight and the C.D.X. (communications) tower.
Character-defining elements of the battery observation post include:
- placement of the tower on the fortification site set back from the gun emplacements and the underground, and facing Sydney Harbor;
- clapboard exterior on the one and one half storey, gable roof extension;
- concrete, three storey, conical roofed, octagonal tower;
- two sets of clerestory windows, with awnings, on the tower facing Sydney Harbor;
- third storey windows extending around the tower.