Historic war bunkers get swift fix

Andrew Robinson
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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.



Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Parks Canada, The Telegram

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Recent comments

  • Diane Squires
    July 31, 2013 - 16:56

    we hiked the trail last night,and what a surprise when we came upon the bunkers totally changes the look !!Awesome job!!

  • Harold
    July 31, 2013 - 09:03

    not good enough for me. a coat of paint and iron bars at the entrance is only a band aid while the structures fall down and are then forgotten. they should be replaced and identified with their purpose clearly posted for all to see. It was this "rock" that we call Home (newfoundland) that protected North America from Hilter during WW2. Least we forget.

  • SL
    July 31, 2013 - 09:02

    I think it’s great that they are restoring the war bunker however the ones in St. John’s are not the only ones in the province that need to be restored. There is a beautiful war bunker in Phillip’s Head that should be maintained as well. These bunkers are a part of our history and we should protect these, they should be used as tourist attractions.

  • Joanne
    July 31, 2013 - 08:19

    Now if they would only remove the graffiti from the surrounding rocks. Half the job was done.

  • Catch them
    July 31, 2013 - 08:01

    Good to hear. If the grafitti comes back, I hope they catch them and make them remove it. The city is dirty with grafitti and just because other cities have it doesn't mean we need to have it.

  • Steve McLean
    July 31, 2013 - 07:47

    Good on Parks Canada

  • karen noel
    July 31, 2013 - 07:31

    im impressed on the fast action parks canada gave to removing the grafetti off the bunkers on the signal hill side of the hiking trails. myself and the kids were over to fort amerst last evening and the brightness from the new paint made a big and cleaner look to the other side. ppl should respect the properties and not plaster grafetti on them. im happy parks canada acted on this fast cause alot of ppl look forward in keeping the history of their province well at hand .

  • Lori
    July 31, 2013 - 07:13

    There must have already been plans to spruce those bunkers up before the published complaints. That is amazingly swift.

  • John Smith
    July 31, 2013 - 06:32

    Now the criminals have a nice clean sheet to use for their graffiti...