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In Our Opinion: Protect the WWII fort

An argument on why Barrett Fort is significant to Prince Rupert and Canada’s history
An aerial shot of the clearing at Barrett Fort, on southern Kaien Island, in early April 2018. (Submitted)

Structures once built to protect us, are now the subject of whether or not we should protect them.

But should we protect Barrett Fort, once the largest station to guard the harbour during World War Two?

It’s not as though anyone can actually, legally, visit the site that’s on Crown land within the port authority’s jurisdiction.

Prince Rupert has had many groups over the years try to save some of these relics of the past. In the early 2000s, the Forts Recovery Group had intentions to preserve some of the sites, but have since run out of steam. Now, some steam is coming off a few posts on Facebook, where there is a lot of opinion but little action.

READ MORE: Port authority clears land surrounding WWII fort

Does anyone actually care about Prince Rupert, or even Canadian history? Clearly not. It took a couple cherry trees to get chopped down before the community learned about the history of how they came to be planted.

Maybe it will take the demolition of a historic fort to stir the same passion from residents.

The question is, should we protect our forts from ruin in the near or distant future?

Yes, and here’s why.

The North Coast may have some of the richest history in the country, starting with the Tsimshian who lived here thousands of years before. Totem poles, culturally modified trees and other artifacts should be protected, and celebrated. Traces of the old railway will soon be enjoyed as the rehabilitated Rushbrook Trail. The abundance of fish canneries of the coast have been salvaged into the North Pacific Cannery national historic site for tourists and residents.

The Second World War — that more than tripled the population and turned Prince Rupert into one of the most important coastal defence sites for Canada and the U.S. — should be recognized as part of our identity. To simply brush away our past means that generations to come will never learn from it. History is worth protecting.

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