These Second World War bunkers at the foot of the North Head trail leading to the Signal Hill National Historic Site were swiftly spruced up following a complaint from a war historian about their deteriorated state. The same day The Telegram published a story on the matter, Parks Canada sent this photo showing off a new paint job, repaired steel doors with new iron gates, and patched up repairs to concrete. — Photo courtesy of Parks Canada
The same day The Telegram published a story about the effects of vandalism and neglect on Second World War bunkers located near the Upper Battery in St. John’s, Parks Canada advised the paper it had remedied the situation.
On Tuesday, The Telegram shared with readers the complaints of war historian Paul Collins, a St. John’s resident who wrote a doctoral thesis on St. John’s history as a naval base during the Second World War.
He said the graffiti-covered bunkers were an eyesore and smelled like urine. Collins also suggested they were a public safety hazard given there were no measures in place to prevent people from entering the aging structures, which are now 70 years old.
“Parks Canada should either do something with them or tear them down,” he said.
The federal government agency elected to take the former approach. By Tuesday, the bunkers had received a fresh coat of paint and repairs to concrete. A Parks Canada spokesman said steel doors were also repaired and are now fronted with iron gates. It was quite the transformation when compared with pictures taken the day before.
Reached by The Telegram Tuesday, Collins said he was pleased that Parks Canada acted so swiftly to spruce up the bunkers. “I’m very happy that they’ve done this,” he said.
“It will certainly improve the look of the place.”
According to Collins, the bunkers were used to house artillery during the war in order to protect St. John’s harbour.
He was particularly alarmed by the condition of the bunkers prior to Tuesday in light of the fact the trail and the Upper Battery area are popular with both tourists and local residents. Collins said their unsightliness reflected poorly on Parks Canada, St. John’s, the province, and the entire country.