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SAINT JOHN COUNTY: The City of Saint John


Fort La Tour
Off Chelsey Drive, Saint John

The fort of Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour, called Sainte-Marie, was built in the summer of 1631. Located at the mouth of the St John River, it was a simple affair of two or three wooden buildings, enclosed within a stockade with V-shaped bastions projecting from the waterfront corners.. In September the following year a small force of Scots from Port Royal under command of Andrew Forrester seized the fort, plundered it and carried off its garrison. In the spring of 1633, La Tour was back busy restoring his fort and, beginning in 1635, he set about strengthening and improving it. In February 1645, La Tour's rival Charles de Menou, Seigneur d'Aulnay Charnisay, learning that La Tour was absent and that the garrison had been reduced, attacked the fort. It was successfully defended by Madame La Tour and D'Aulnay withdrew, but he returned two months later with a larger force and two canons. Madame La Tour heroically resisted for four days, but the fort finally fell through betrayal. In 1654 the fort was attacked unsuccessfully by a French rival and successfully by New Englanders. In 1672 La Tour's son-in-law, the Sieur de Martignon was granted a seigneury at the mouth of the St John River, but soon after the fort fell into decay. It is now a protected provincial historic site.


Fort Menagoeche or Fort de la Riviere de St Jean
Toll Booth for Harbour Bridge, Saint John

In 1695, Governor Villebon sought permission to move his establishment from the Nashwaak River to the mouth of the St John River. Work began on the new fort in July 1698 and was complete by October. He selected for the site of his fort a location across the harbour from the La Tour's fort, where the toll booth for the Harbour Bridge now stands. It was abandoned and re-occupied on a number of occasions. When the British arrived under command of Colonel Monckton in September 1758, they found the old fort in ruin, although the French had started to collect material to rebuilt it.


Fort Frederick
Toll booth for Harbour Bridge, Saint John

When Colonel Robert Monckton arrived at the mouth of the St John River in September 1758, he set about immediately to build a strong fort on the site of Villebon's fort. A 1763 plan of the fort shows a small star-shaped fortification. That first winter the garrison consisted of 300 mens under command of Major Roger Morris. A major storm in November 1759 washed away a portion of the ramparts and destroyed the storehouse. Temporary repairs were made. The British garrison remained until 1768, when it was withdrawn to help suppress unrest in Boston. In August 1775, an American Rebel privateer from Machias, Maine pillaged Fort Frederick and burned it down. To protect the western side of the inner harbour, the fort was rebuilt in 1812. A small plaque marking its location is found near the entrance to the toll booth.


Fort Howe
Between Main and Magazine Streets, Saint John
In the fall of 1777, Brigade Major Gilfred Studholme arrived in Saint John harbour with a detachment of soldiers tasked to secure the area. They brought with them a prefabricated blockhouse and four 6-pounder canons. Studholme opted not to build on the site of Fort Frederick, but on the high ground behind the site of Fort La Tour, which gave complete command of ther inner harbour. He named it Fort Howe, after Lieutenant-General Sir William Howe, the commander of the British forces in North America. Although fire destroyed the fort in 1819 and much of its property was sold at public auction in 1823, the site played a part in the defence of Saint John until World War Two. There is a cairn on site with three Historic Sites & Monument Board of Canada plaques and a reconstructed blockhouse. Graduate students listen to lecture at the site of the reconstructed Block House at Fort Howe, Saint John.  Photo by Kevin Norris 2003(c).

Lower Cove Batteries
Saint John

In 1793, Governor Thomas Carleton directed that four temporary batteries be built at Lower Cove to cover the inner harbour and the city. Guns were installed at the Prince Edward, Mortar, Graveyard and Dorchester Batteries. Over the years these batteries were improved and the garrison included regular artillerymen fron the Royal Artillery to man the guns. In 1811, to secure the Lower Cove batteries, the Johnson Battery and blockhouse was built and 1813 the East Battery was added to cover the entrance to Courtney Bay. To support the British garrison and the regional military headquarters established there, other buildings were added, an armoury, a barrack for 64 gunners, a hospital and storehouses. Lower Cove remained the main military site in Saint John until the fire of 1877 burned most of the buildings.


Partridge Island
Saint John Harbour
In 1791 Governor Thomas Carleton ordered that Partridge Island be fortified, but it was not completed until 1800, when a signal station, a gun platform and a barracks were constructed. With the War of 1812, the harbour defences were improved by building on the island a nine gun battery, a blockhouse, a magazine and earthworks. In 1866 the island defence were manned to meet the Fenian threat. With growing tension between Russia and Britain in 1878, the island defence were again improved, with two 8 inch guns, two long 68 pounders, one 32 pounder and one 18 pounder. In World War One, Partridge Island played a key role in the harbour defences and was provided with six 4.7 inch guns and a searchlight. During the Second World War, the island defences were again upgraded, with two 6 inch naval guns and two 18 pounders, along with searchlight emplacements, observation posts, and underground magazines and crew shelters. Although German U-boats lay undetected off the island in 1942, no shots were fired in anger. In 1947, the military withdrew from Partridge Island. It is designated both a national and provincial historic site. Partridge Island, Saint John, shrouded in fox.  Photo by Kevin Norris 2003(c)

Drummond Blockhouse
Site of the Water Tower in West Saint John

To protect the western approaches to the city, a blockhouse was built in 1812 on the high ground about 1,300 metres from Fort Frederick, with its two canons covering the Musquash road. By 1862, the blockhouse was in ruin.


Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site
West Saint John
Construction of the Carleton Martello Tower began in July 1814 on a hill 180 metres from Fort Drummond. As it was not completed until after the end of the War of 1812, it was never armed. However, the tower continued to have a military role until after World War Two. It is a national historic site with a restored powder magazine from 1845 and a restored barrack room from 1866. It also features a audio-visual presentation on the defence of Saint John during the World War Two. Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site.  Photo by Kevin Norris 2003 (c)

Ordnance Corps Building
Sydney Street, Saint John

Here stands the remaining building of two stone Ordnance Corps buildings constructed between 1840 and 1841 for the British Army garrison located in New Brunswick. They were used to house weapons and ordnance stores. The existing building underwent renovations in 1911 and again in 1956. Its last military use was accommodation for HMCS Brunswicker, the New Brunswick reserve naval unit. On 10 September 2008, the Saint John City Council designated the property a Heritage Conservation Area.

Colours of Third Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery
St John’s Stone Church, 87 Carleton Street, Saint Joh

1. The Colours of the Third Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery are hanging in front of St John’s Stone Church behind the altar. The two sets of Colours are emblazoned with “1793", the date the unit was organized. The Napoleonic Wars were raging and in 1793 a ten-gun French privateer was reported cruising the Bay of Fundy, the Saint John militia rallied in defence and this unit was formed as coastal artillery. Normally an artillery unit’s colours are considered their guns. The Third Field is the only artillery unit to also have this form of colours.

2. The front pew on the left side of St John’s Stone Church is plaqued, denoting that it is the Garrison Officers’ Pew. The tradition is maintained by the officers of the city militia units.


Fort Dufferin
Negro Point, West Saint John

This battery was built in 1863/64 following the Trent Affair and in response to a threat of an American attack following their Civil War. It was named in 1873 for the Earl of Dufferin, the Governor General of Canada, and consisted of four stone magazines, 10 gun platforms, a guard house, an office and a store building. It was first manned in 1866 by militia gunners against the Fenian threat. The site was used regularly by the militia for gunnery practice; for example in 1902 six and twelve pounder quick firing guns fired from Fort Dufferin at two canvas targets towed by tug boats. It was not used in World War One and the area became a gravel pit. On the outbreak of World War Two it was brought back to active service. At first two 4.7 inch field guns were mounted there, but later they were replaced by two 12 pounders. Two concrete search light emplacements were built, along with accommodation and support facilities for the gunners of 15th Battery. Its role was close harbour defence against surface ships. In September 1944, the battery was closed and the property reverted back to a gravel pit. There currently exists two magazines and three gun emplacements from the 1860s and three World War Two concrete installations.


Red Head Battery
Red Head Road, Saint John
A defence review during the Trent Affair, established a new line of defence for Saint John, consisting of Fort Dufferin, Partridge Island and a battery at Red Head. Like Fort Dufferin, the Red Head battery was to consist of ten gun positions and four magazines, designed to cover the southeastern channel. However, due to the configuration of the ground, there was only sufficient space for six guns and two magazines. Work at Red Head was completed until 1866. However, it was not until 1878 that four 32-pounder smooth-bore canon were mounted on the site. During World War One the battery position was used as a camp for the 9th Seige Battery and in World War Two a government radio station and a dummy gun position was located at Red Head. In 2003, the Battery at Red Head was overgrown by alders, raspberry cane, etc., and was difficult to reach.  During the spring of 2005, the NBMHP, along with 4 ESR (Gagetown), the City of Saint John, and John Flood and Sons, cleared the site.  Photo by Kevin Norris 2003(c).

South African War Memorial
Riverview Park, Douglas Street, Saint John

A bronze statue of a soldier of the South African stands at ease on a stone base, attired in the slouch hat, cross belts of ammunition, a pistol on his belt and in his right hand a lee-enfield rifle. The rifle had been stolen by vandals in the late 1990s, but it was restored by the 26th (Overseas) Battalion CEF Regimental association in May 2002. On the base are seven names of men who lost their lives in this war, four killed in action and three who died from enteric fever or tonsillitis.


Lieutenant W.H.S. Nickerson, Victoria Cross, Royal Army Medical Corps
Saint John

Saint John born William H.S. Nickerson, a medical officer in the South African War, won the Victoria Cross at Wakkerstroom on April 20th, 1900. His citation reads that he "in the most gallant manner, under a heavy rifle and shell fire, attended a wounded man, dressed his wounds, and remained with him till he had him conveyed to a place of safety." The wounded British soldiers's entrails had protruded and Nickerson stitched up his stomach.


Saint John Armoury
Broadview Street, Saint John

Built in 1911 as part of the enhancement of the militia by Sir Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia. The mobilization of the 26th Battalion took place in the armoury in the autumn of 1914. The Battalion had its first inspection there by Sir Sam Hughes on December 16th. A picture of the 26th Battalion at this time can be found in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #53. The Armoury is currently the home of two militia units, the 3rd Field Regiment, RCA and the 31st (Saint John) Service Battalion.


Third Field Artillery Regiment RCA (The Loyal Company) 1793 - 1993
Entrance to Saint John Armoury, Broadview Street, Saint John

A plaque commemorates the bicentenary of the 3rd Field Regiment formed on May 4th 1793 as The Loyal Company of Artillery. This artillery unit has served continuously in a number of various roles, such as coast, siege, anti-aircraft and field artillery.


The 26th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
Pugsley Wharf, Saint John

A plaque located on Pugsley Wharf commemorates the 26th Battalion CEF, the only infantry battalion raised in New Brunswick hich saw action in World War One. It departed Saint John in June 1915 and returned on the SS Olympic on May 16th, 1919. The plaque lists the Battalion's battle honours and notes it suffers 918 dead, 2977 non-fatal casualties, won 334 honours and awards and had a total strength of 5,719.


Embarkation of 26th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
Jervis Bay - Ross Memorial Park, Loch Lomond Road, East Saint John

At 1100 hours on Sunday June 13th, 1915 the troopship SS Caledonia cast off from Pettingill's Wharf with the 26th Battalion board. It was an event long remembered in Saint John, as the Battalion sailed off to war and an uncertain future. The day before the Battalion had paraded through the town to the wharf lead by the 62nd St John Fusiliers Band, with the city streets were jammed with family, friends and well-wishers. A plaque which marks this occasion had been located at Market Slip, but was relocated to the Jervis Bay - Ross Memorial Park. Until recently the date was commemorated by the 26th Battalion Association with a church service .


World War One Nursing Sister Agnes Louise Warner
Saint John High School, Saint John

Near the main doorway of the Dennis Knibb Auditorium in Saint John High School is a plaque dedicated to World War One Nurse Agnes Louise Warner. A native of New Brunswick, she saw service in France from August 1914 to January 1917, in support of the French Army. She was the recipient of the Medaille D’Honneur in bronze, Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre.


T. McAvity & Son Munition Factory
Saint John

Produced a large quantity of heavy artillery shell in World War One.


Fort Mispec, including Battery and Control tower
Canoport, Mispec

A 1938 defence plan for Saint John called for a battery of three modern 9.2-inch guns to counter the threat of a raid by a heavy German warship. The site selected was Mispec Point, where the high ground covered all the approaches to the harbour. Construction began immediately after the declaration of war. As a temporary measure, until the 9.2-inches could be obtained, 7.5-inch guns were installed in the summer of 1940. Heavy reinforced concrete structures were built to house the three guns and their accompanying magazines. In addition a concrete battery observation post was built on a hill behind Mispec Point. In June 1946, the battery was dismantled and the equipment removed. With the exception of the OP post, these concrete structures still stand today.


Sheldon Point Dummy Battery
Sheldon Point, Irving Park, West Saint John

On the beach at the western end of Manawagonish Cove, below the Barn at the start of the Sheldon Point Walking Trail, there is the ruins of a concrete emplacement from this World War Two battery.


Courtney Bay Breakwater Battery
Saint John Harbour

A defence plan date 1936/37 called for light quick-firing guns on the Courtenay Bay breakwater, to support the main batteries on Partridge Island and others at Fort Dufferin. It was not until October 1939, after war had been declared, that the local military authority used their initiative and funds to mount a World War One 18 pounder on the breakwater and to rig up automotive spotlights to provide lightning. It was not until 1942 that heavy concrete structures were built near the tip of the breakwater to house a magazine and a gun platform. In June 1944 the 18-pounder was replaced by a semi-automatic twin 6-pounder gun. At the same time a steel-reinforced concrete fire control post was designed and built to look like a lighthouse. The site was dismantled in 1946.


No 7 Vocational Training School
Saint John

Opened on 1 January 1 1942.


Coldbrook Ordnance Depot and RCEME Workshop
Rothesay Road, Saint John,

This facility was locate where StressCon Concrete is currently located. It was a World War II facility, which continued until the late 1950s. It employed from 200 to 300 people.


RCOC Motor Transport Workshop
Golden Ball Garage, Saint John

The workshop was in operation in March 1941.


Royal Canadian Air Force Station Saint John
Saint John

By the fall of 1941, the Saint John airfield was one of six operational fields in Eastern Air Command of the RCAF. Stationed at the municipal airport at Millidgeville there from 1 November 1939 to 27 September 1940 was a flight of 2 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, flying four Armstrong-Whitworth Atlas aircraft. These were soon after replaced by modern Westland Lysanders (Picture available in Douglas - The Creation of a National Air Force). In the fall of 1939 a hanger and other buildings were built for the RCAF detachment at Millidgeville. No 2 Squadron was replaced by 118 (Coastal Artillery Co-operation) Squadron from 1 November 1939 to 27 September 1940. The 118 Squadron was renumbered 1 (Coast Artillery Co-operation) Detachment and it remanded until 1 April 1944. By the end of January 1944 1 (CAC) had been made redundant by army radar equipment, it was first transferred to Dartmouth and then disbanded. Shortly after RCAF Station Saint John was closed. As part of the East Coast Air Defence Radar Coverage, #23 Radio Unit (Ground Control Intercept radar) was located at Saint John.


HMCS Brunswicker
Saint John

HMCS Brunswicker is the New Brunswick naval reserve unit. For many years it was located in Barrack Green, but a new facilities was built on the harbour and opened on May 6th, 1995.


Six Inch Gun from HMCS Niobe
Entrance to HMCS New Brunswicker, Saint John

The first two ships purchased for the newly established Royal Canadian Navy in 1910 were the Niobe and Rainbow, both aging British cruisers. When HMCS Niobe was decommissioned in 1915, its armaments were removed. During World War Two, Niobe's 6-inch guns were used to form a battery on Partridge Island in defence of the Saint John's harbour. One of these guns, a 6-inch H.E.D.C. Mark II with the serial number 749 (1898) is on display at the entrance to HMCS Brunswicker.


Saint John Shipyard & Dry Dock Co. Ltd
East Saint John

The dry dock on Courtenay Bay was completed in 1923 and the first ship to enter was the MH Kongshank from Haugesund, Norway. The dry dock increased Saint John's strategic importance, as it was the only facility on the Canadian seaboard capable of handling large passenger vessels and warships. On declaration of war, the 8th Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery protected the dry dock with machine guns. In the spring of 1942 they were replaced by the 25th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery with 40mm guns.


HMS Jarvis Bay Memorial Display
Royal Canadian Legion (Jervis Bay) Branch #53, Bayside drive, Saint John

The Jervis Bay was a 1922 vintage passenger liner of 14,000 tons employed mainly in the United Kingdom - Australia run. When World War Two broke out, it was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser, armed with seven out-of-date 6 inch guns. In the autumn of 1940 it was in refit in the Saint John Drydock and its captain and crew became well known to Saint Johners. Before the refit was complete, duty called HMS Jervis Bay to Halifax. Some of the dock-workers sailed with her to Halifax, so that they could continue their maintenance work.

In Halifax, HMS Jervis Bay was tasked to escort Convoy HX84 of 38 ships to England. On November 5th, 1940, south of Greenland, the convoy encountered the German pocket battleship, Admiral Sheer, armed with 11 inch guns. Without hesitation, despite the uneven odds, HMS Jervis Bay sprang to the attack. The end result was never in doubt; the Jervis Bay was sunk with the loss of 198 men out of the crew of some 250. However, the three hour battle provided a sufficient delay to permit the majority of merchant ships to scatter and run for safety. This action earned Commander (Acting Captain) Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen of the Jervis Bay the Victoria Cross. The RCL Branch #53 maintains the memory of the Jervis Bay with a display of memorabilia from the ship, including a white ensign, clock, crockery and pictures. The Branch has also helped develop the Jervis Bay - Ross Memorial Park on Lock Lomond Road, where there is a attractive bronze plaque.


Jervis Bay - Ross Memorial Park
Loch Lomond Road, East Saint John

The Royal Canadian Legion, (Jervis Bay) Branch #53 is responsible for the dedication of this park into a memorial to HMS Jervis Bay. In addition to the central memorial to the Jervis Bay, a number of other military memorials have been placed in the park; these include a 5.5 inch heavy artillery gun, a practice naval torpedo, a memorial stone to the Carleton and York Regiment and the plaque commemorating the embarkation of the 26th Battalion in 1915, which originally stood at Market Slip.


Regimental Colours and New Brunswick Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial
Trinity Anglican Church, 115 Charlotte Street, Saint John

Ancient military tradition decrees that regimental colours be laid up in a church. In accordance with this tradition, the King’s and Regimental Colours of the 62nd Regiment (Saint John Fusiliers) and three World War One regiments, with connection to New Brunswick, are laid up in the chancel of Trinity Anglican Church in Saint John. The Canadian Expeditionary Force units are the 26th Battalion, the 104th Battalion and the 115th Battalion. The 26th Battalion Colours were laid up on 7 May 1922 and, because they had deteriorated, they were replaced by a new set on 12 December 1972. The 104th Colours were originally laid up in St Paul’s Anglican Church in Hampton NB on 14 April 1920, but seven years later they were moved to Trinity Church. In addition, hanging in Trinity’s nave are flags and ensigns use during World War Two by the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Merchant Marine.

In 1995, to mark the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the fifty anniversary of the end of World War Two, the New Brunswick Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial was erected in the north west corner of the church by members of the Air Force Association . A plaque bears the names of those from Saint John City and County who gave their lives in World War Two and a memorial book lists all those who had served in the RCAF. A page is turned daily.


Medium Anti-Aircraft Gun
Field of Honour, Saint Joseph's Cemetery, Westmorland Street, East Saint John

Overlooking Westmorland Street, and marking the Field of Honour, is a medium anti-aircraft gun.

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