Fort Petrie Mil­i­tary Mu­seum co-or­di­na­tor says vis­i­tors amazed by what they find

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­

Fort Petrie Mil­i­tary Mu­seum co-or­di­na­tor says vis­i­tors al­ways amazed by what they find there.

Rob Grezel says all he has to do is lis­ten to the vis­i­tors at Fort Petrie Mil­i­tary Mu­seum and he knows it is worth be­ing the only full-time vol­un­teer.

“I lis­ten to all the peo­ple that come in and say how beau­ti­ful it is,” said Grezel, co-or­di­na­tor of the fort and a vol­un­teer with the Syd­ney Har­bour For­ti­fi­ca­tion So­ci­ety.

“We’ve had a lot of vis­i­tors from all over the world,” he said, while oth­ers are from just down the road.

“The first thing (lo­cals) say when they walk through the door is, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know this was here and I’m from Glace Bay.’ Ev­ery­one who comes in ab­so­lutely loves the fa­cil­ity.”

One such vis­i­tor ar­rived this week.

Lorne MacKin­non, a Syd­ney na­tive who now lives in Toronto, toured the site with his daugh­ters Sco­tia, 4, Stir­ling, 8, and Skye, 11.

MacKin­non said he tries to get home once a year and dur­ing this visit his fa­ther Lorne MacKin­non Sr. sug­gested he check our the fort.

“My fa­ther would talk about my grand­fa­ther (Bernie MacKin­non) who was in the Sec­ond World War. I thought a lit­tle his­tory would be good for the kids.”

Look­ing at the orig­i­nal photos of Fort Petrie be­fore it was re­stored, MacKin­non said they brought back mem­o­ries of driv­ing by and see­ing the site cov­ered with graf­fiti.

“It’s im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber our past.”

Fort Petrie is a Sec­ond World War era for­ti­fi­ca­tion site lo­cated in New Victoria. It was built to guard Syd­ney har­bour and played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the de­fence of the har­bour dur­ing the war.

Grezel’s mother, the late Pat Grezel, his fa­ther Paul Grezel and Ho­race Lovell of Lin­gan, led the charge to have the build­ing re­stored. The first step was the for­ma­tion of the Syd­ney Har­bour For­ti­fi­ca­tion So­ci­ety in 1990 and the fol­low­ing year they ob­tained a Supreme Court in­junc­tion to stop the fort’s de­mo­li­tion.

“The found­ing (so­ci­ety) mem­bers and many other peo­ple were in­volved over the years as well,” Grezel said.

Pat Grezel died in Jan­uary

2012 and her son stepped into her shoes at the fort.

Fort Petrie opens the first week in June and re­mains open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily un­til the last cruise ship visit around the end of Oc­to­ber.

In the mean­time Grezel said work is on­go­ing, with the lat­est im­prove­ment a new sign cre­ated by artist Keith Bald­win, who is also paint­ing war scenes for the front en­trance.

Grezel said they haven’t re­ceived any fund­ing for the fort this year but have ap­plied and are hop­ing for good news.

“Right now we are just go­ing with what we get in our do­na­tion box,” he said. “If I get enough for a gal­lon of paint, I get a gal­lon of paint or some ply­wood or gas for the lawn mower. Ev­ery­thing we get at the fort goes back into the fort.”

Although Grezel is front and cen­tre at the fort, he said vol­un­teers help out with var­i­ous chores in­clud­ing cutting the grass.

“We all know the com­mu­nity is good so if you’re will­ing to ask for some help peo­ple will come over.”

Grezel said a ma­jor goal is to raise enough money to get coastal de­fence guns “six pounders” for the gun em­place­ments.

“I can get them but I need the money to get them here and mounted. Wouldn’t that be fan­tas­tic if we could get them here?

To help with the gun project or to vol­un­teer, con­tact Grezel at 902-317-3749.


Rob Grezel, co-or­di­na­tor of Fort Petrie Mil­i­tary Mu­seum and vol­un­teer with the Syd­ney Har­bour For­ti­fi­ca­tion So­ci­ety, shows from left, Lorne MacKin­non of Toronto and his daugh­ters Sco­tia, 4, Stir­ling, 8, and Skye, 11, around the fort in New Victoria.

Seen here is a room in Fort Petrie’s bat­tery ob­ser­va­tion post that housed sol­diers dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Ar­ti­facts that can be seen in­side the Fort Petrie Mu­seum.

A view of the Fort Petrie grounds in New Victoria.

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