Promoting what exists in Sydney Mines.
The proposed Atlantic Memorial Park would address a significant gap in the current Canadian commemorative landscape, according to the newly incorporated Sydney Mines Tourism Development Society.
“This park would add to Canada’s commemorative landscape and provide an opportunity to learn about the significant wartime contribution of Sydney harbour,” said board member Brian Ferguson, a retired senior executive with Veterans Affairs Canada.
“I don’t believe there is another place in Canada where you would have historic fortifications, a monument (modelled on the Vimy Monument in France), an authentic First Nations encampment, family park, a beautiful beach and walking trails all surrounded by a spectacular panoramic view of the ocean.”
The proposed site consists of about 120 acres of publicly owned land in Sydney Mines and along with Chapel Point Battery includes Lochman’s Beach, Edward’s Pond, Neil’s Woods and the former Princess mine site (Swivel Point).
Along with the historical, educational and recreational components, from an economic perspective the project could provide significant direct operational revenue and spinoff benefits for local business.
“We are going to do this project in chewable chunks and each phase will be done when the funding becomes available to complete the phase,” Ferguson said. “The plan is to begin with the Chapel Point Battery site and we are going to need the whole region to get behind this effort.
“I read about this initiative in the Cape Breton Post, that’s what peaked my interest. We are up for the battle and are connecting with every federal department that has a role to play in commemoration.”
The society hopes to utilize a study completed in 1993 by Porter Dillon Consulting. The study detailed the restoration activities required for Chapel Point. The requirements would be reviewed and updated to reflect today’s context and would provide the launching pad for site restoration.
“This will bring many more tourists to the region and will excite the cruise ship community which is always looking for something new,” Ferguson said.
“The partnerships we’ve established with key economic and tourism resources on the island, the linkages we are in the process of establishing with key federal departments and agencies and the fact that we can build on the work done in the past is key.
“This project is national in scope and has to be managed in phases. I’ve worked for Veterans Affairs and see this as a huge commemorative opportunity.”
Board member Cyril Aker is encouraged by the support the project has received to date from government officials at all three levels, the business and professional communities, academics and the local legion (Sydney Mines), which has already donated to the project.
“We need the support from everyone, we can’t stop if we are going to make this happen,” said Aker. “We also have local people from that area who have approached us and want to help. The timing is right for this project. The history and heritage that is already here should be more widely known, not just locally but nationally and globally.”
Cyril Aker, left, and Brian Ferguson, members of the Sydney Mines Tourism Development Society were busy this week researching information on Chapel Point Battery, one of seven former fortifications around Sydney harbour.
Chapel Point observation tower.