About Fort Petrie Military Site and Museum
Fort Petrie was a World War II era fortification in Nova Scotia which played an important part in the Battle of the Atlantic and in protecting North Atlantic shipping ways. Today, several parts of Fort Petrie remain, including an observation tower, subterranean fortifications, gun placements, and other buildings.
Built in 1939 at a time when the threat of German invasion was high, it was vital in defending Sydney Harbour. It was decommissioned in 1956, and is now a small museum which contains information about its role during the war.
History of Fort Petrie Military Site and Museum
Fort Petrie is a World War II era fortification site at New Victoria in Cape Breton. It was build to defend Sydney Harbour, and included a battery observation post, gun placements, searchlights, a radar and communications tower, powerhouse, armoury, machine shop, and several below-ground fortifications.
Built in 1939, it was essential as a structure 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 and German submarine patrolled waters that surrounded eastern Canada.
The fort was the last of the Sydney Harbour fortifications to be decommissioned in 1956, and the communication tower was demolished in 1968.
In 1991, the Sydney Harbour Fortification Society bought the fort, and in 1998, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada chose the site to place a plaque to commemorate the ‘Atlantic Bulwark‘.
Today, Fort Petrie is a municipally, provincially, and federally protected site.
Fort Petrie Military Site and Museum Today
Today, a museum about the fort is located within the battery observation post. Visitors can talk to and be guided by the volunteer curator Rob, who knows a huge amount about local history spanning back to World War II. If you climb three flights to the wartime observation deck, you can see the original gun emplacements, and the wonderful views of the harbour. It is free to visit the fort, though donations are encouraged.
For those who wish to deepen their understanding of the area’s local history, the nearby Miner’s Museum offers underground mine tours.
Getting to Fort Petrie Military Site and Museum
From the centre of Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, the Fort is a 20 minute drive via the NS-28 E road. Buses – the 8 or 9 – take just over an hour, and depart from the Radio Building. For a more intrepid explorer, the fort is reachable in just over three hours by foot, and takes you along the beautiful coastline.