LOOKING BACK – Development of Fort La Tour taking shape, set to open next year – CBC 2019


CBC News was granted a sneak peek of work being done on a $1.8M project to re-create historic settlement
 

Work continues on the Place Fort La Tour project in Saint John. The new tourist attraction is expected to open to the public next spring. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

The palisade is up, the buildings are erected and the work to recreate Fort La Tour in Saint John is nearing complete.

But the redeveloped historical settlement won’t be opened until next spring, according to Andrew Dixon of the Fort la Tour Development Authority.

Crews are expected to make the finishing touches on the site. This will happen before winter before constructing a separate washroom facility in the early spring. Dixon said the site will open shortly thereafter, just in time for tourist season.

“We’re going to plan quite a celebration at that time,” Dixon said.

 

Andrew Dixon of the Fort LaTour Development Authority points out new construction at the Place Fort La Tour site in Saint John. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

The Place Fort La Tour project, announced in June 2018, recreates one of the first Canadian North American settlements on almost the exact site where the original stood almost 400 years ago.

There is an Indigenous burial ground on the original spot, and the new fort will be built adjacent to it. The site is located on Portland Point at the mouth of the St. John River within Saint John Harbour, and it’s connected to the Harbour Passage.

Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour, governor of Acadia, built a fort at the site in 1631 that became one of the earliest centres of the French fur trade with the region’s Indigenous peoples.

The settlement has become known for the bravery of Françoise-Marie Jacquelin, Madame de La Tour. In 1645, during her husband’s absence, she and 40 soldiers held off a much larger force of rival governor Charles de Menou d’Aulnay for three days before he took the fort in the name of the king.

 

The redeveloped Fort La Tour is almost located on the exact site of the original structure. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

The fort was destroyed in the 17th or early 18th century, and the archeological site was designated a national historic site in 1923.

‘It turned out beautiful’

The project includes the construction of replica fort buildings, a palisade and bastion, a plaza, blacksmith forge, walking paths and washroom facilities.

The towering palisade — the sharpened posts are locally harvested hemlock — is an imposing structure.

 

The palisade is made form locally harvested hemlock. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

“It really kind of shouts at you that this is protection for a fortified settlement, and it turned out beautiful,” Dixon said.

“This will stand the test of time.”

Earlier this month, when the tour was given, workers were spotted completing the stone pillars in the bastion where a canon will be placed to point out to the harbour. Dixon said the authority recently secured its canon.

According to Dixon, the public will come to see the fort and learn the history, but they’ll stay for the views of the city.

 

Dixon says the raised deck overlooking the harbour offers a spectacular view. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

“The raised platform within the palisade wall provide a tremendous vantage point to look out over the harbour,” he said.

Two buildings have been erected as well as a blacksmith’s shop complete with working oven. One building will serve as a gathering place for events and an interpretation centre, while the other will house souvenirs and guides.

The project received financial support from all three levels of government, the Saint John Port Authority, Aquila Tours as well as some anonymous donations.

With files from Graham Thompson

Source: Redeveloped Fort La Tour taking shape, set to open next year | CBC News

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