Saint John New Brunswick

David Nickerson/Telegraph-Journal
James Theriault, chairman of the Fort La Tour Development Authority, unveils plans Monday to showcase the site as `the jewel' of the harbour.

$2.7M plan unveiled for La Tour facelift

by Mike Mullen
June 24/03

   Local tourism officials, have long deemed the site of Fort La Tour at Portland Point as a diamond in the rough.
   And finally a Plan is in place to bring out the' historical gem's lustre.
    A three-phase, $2.7-million master plan for cutting and showcasing Fort La Tour as "the jewel" of the Saint Jolm harbourfront was unveiled Monday by an upbeat James Theriault, chairman of the Fort La Tour Development Authority.
   "I think this is a win-win situation far everybody, for all people, for all communities," Mr. Theriault said in outlining an as-yet-unfunded scheme for the development and interpre-tation of the waterfront site's 4,000 years as a crossroads of trade and human occupation.

FACELIFT: Fundraising plan to be announced by early fall

   A fundraising plan, possibly in cooperation with the Saint John Waterfront Development Partnership, is to be announced by early fall.
   If all goes well, Mr. Theriault said construction could begin by the summer of 2004.
   Prepared by the Fredericton landscape firm Daniel K. Glenn Ltd., phase one of the Fort La Tour development plan calls for a $1.6-million investment to create the critical mass of infrastructures required to attract, hold and entertain visitors in a way that will give them a memorable heritage experience.
   Among other things, it will include the refurbishment of the small wharf and shoreline protection, the constitution of the fort away from the original earthen mound location (out of respect for the 20-metre buffer zone established for native burial sites), an interpretive plaza with sign panels and media players, a 125- to 150-seat amphitheater and guides in period costumes.
    An off-site washroom building will also be included in phase one, along with a commemorative plaque and pathways, landscape, lighting and site beautification work that will complement Harbour Passage, the city's new inner-harbour walking trail, to which it is linked.
   Phase two of the development plan calls for $1 million to be spent on completing the fort reconstitution and construction of a new interpretive plaza with a sculpture of Francoise Marie Jacquelin, better know as Madame La Tour. The $200,000 third phase of the Fort La Tour master plan includes an archaeological dig experience, under a protective geodesic dome. It's aimed at enhancing the experience of an estimated 25,000 visitors annually.
   Plans call for the site to be open annually from June through October. The archaeological significance of the Fort La Tour site was first recognized in 1923 when it was designated a National Historic Site. In 1976, the province designated the site for protection under the Historic Sites Development Act.
   More than 10,000 artifacts from all periods (2000 BC to 1900 A. D.) were recovered during excavations that took place in 1955-56 and 1963. Archaeological treasurers uncovered at that time included the remains of the fort's fortifications, building and other items dating from the 17thcentury La Tour occupation of the site. The collection is currently stored by the New Brunswick Archaeological Services Unit.
   Mr. Theriault said a $65,000 grant from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency allowed the authority to develop what he called a "realistic" plan for site development. Even so, he warned there is still some design work to be done.
   "You can appreciate these are not blueprints, just the general concept," he said. "So, we will still need some expertise and funding to finalize it."
   Authority co-chairman Bob Elliot also unveiled a new promotional brochure for Fort La Tour. It was funded with a $2,000 grant from the Greater Saint John Community Foundation.