The 20th Century

Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site

A New Age

Black and white photo of Carleton Martello Tower with Signalman's house. The harbour and some houses can be seen in the background.
Carleton Martello Tower, circa 1905
© Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (P11-Erb, Isaac: Photographs collection)

At the turn of the century, Carleton Martello Tower was an outdated fortification. It was, however, ready to adopt a new role, that of local attraction. Richard Damery, caretaker of the Tower, was asked to display his collection of antiques and artifacts there. It proved to be popular with the public and existed until 1915.

The Tower was also used during the First World War, but not as a defence base. Rather, it operated as a detention center for deserters from the 69th Canadian Infantry Battalion. It has been estimated that over 50 soldiers were confined there for several months until their unit could be sent overseas.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the security of Saint John was a top concern. Although not a major naval base, the city did have a large dry dock, and was the end point for supplies traveling by rail.

The Fire Command Post model. Model soldiers and equipment can be seen inside.
A model of the Fire Command Post

As a result, gun batteries were installed around the harbour. Despite the Tower's status as a national historic site, it was decided to use it as an observation and fire command post. This meant the addition of a two storey concrete superstructure on the Tower's top. The superstructure was occupied by soldiers from the 3rd New Brunswick Coast Brigade from 1941, until it ceased operations in 1944.

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