Located in Prince Rupert Harbour, the old Dominion Marine Station at Casey Cove on Digby Island is slated for the chopping block any day now. Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation or CNOOC, owners of Nexen, set Sept 26 as the date they began bringing in their demolition equipment.
CNOOC-Nexen purchased the five-acre property from a private owner over a year ago and plan to use this site in Marine Bay as a staging area for their proposed Aurora LNG facility. Even larger than PNW/LNG proposed for Lelu Island; Aurora LNG would take over most of the lands between the Prince Rupert Airport and the community of Dodge Cove.
Casey Cove was built in 1912 for the Prince Rupert District branch of Canada’s Department of Marine and Fisheries. The warehouse and blacksmith shops were used to repair navigational buoys until the Canadian Coast Guard was formed and these operations were moved to Seal Cove around 1967. During the Second World War, it was used as a marine base and residence for mariners and officers. Digby Island was considered critical in strategically defending the inner harbour, with submarine nets strung between Casey Point and Mount Hays. Its western vistas were used as lookouts and radios relayed messages from points facing Dixon Entrance and Chatham Sound. A road and telegraph line ran along the shoreline, above the beaches and rocky bluffs, from Casey Cove to the army barracks and rec hall at the Fredrick Point Station.
After the war, up to 200 people lived at the marine station during the summers. Casey Cove was also used as a research station and by schools in the area for outdoor and marine education programs into the 1970’s. The site of the Boy Scout Camp is located a short hike away on the old army road. This is a beautiful area with many existing trails to walk and beaches to access.
Frederick Point is where CNOOC-Nexen plans to put their LNG tanker jetty. How welcoming for all marine vessels, large and small, to have to pass through a hazard zone gatepost to enter Prince Rupert Harbour. Say goodbye to the great fishing off Spire Ledge, a part of the Skeena River Estuary. Say goodbye to the possibility for Prince Rupert residents to have public access to clean beaches close to town and experience maritime coastal culture for themselves.
The site at Casey Cove has several buildings that could have been preserved and the history of this significant Canadian landmark should not be forgotten.
It may already be too late to save Casey Cove but we still have time to wake up and save Digby Island for future generations to enjoy. If CNOOC-Nexen gets its way, we can say goodbye to that hope too.