Georges Island National Historic Site
Use this map for a self-guided walking tour of Georges Island. Climb the trail from the wharf to Fort Charlotte and explore Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and military points of interest. Look toward the city and imagine how this place appeared when only the Mi’kmaq lived here for millennia.
This map shows the points of interest and services at Georges Island National Historic Site.
Points of interest
1 Submarine Mining Establishment
Now leap ahead centuries in time to discover one of the last structures to be built on the island. The submarine mining establishment was first constructed in the 1870s and expanded in the 1890s, and represented the height of harbour defence technology at the time. Submarine mine (or sea mine) cases were stored and only assembled and deployed for drills or in case of an attack. A mini railroad was used for transporting the heavy mines. The tracks and base of a turntable remain.
A wooden barracks for married soldiers once stood just to the left of the existing brick buildings.
2 Guncotton Tanks
The explosive used in the submarine mines was guncotton (nitrocellulose). Because it was so volatile, it had to be stored in water in these concrete tanks.
3 Dry Primer Store
The igniters for the mines were stored separately in this small magazine. The roof no longer exists. The blast wall around the outside of the building was meant to contain an explosion in the event of an accident.
4 Married Officers Quarters and Former Prison Shed Locations
This little brick house was built in 1901 as quarters for Royal Artillery officers and their families. The house contained a kitchen, parlour, two bedrooms, and an outside sentry post.
In the 1750s, a large shed or barracks stood close to this location at A. Along with another shed further south near B and several other buildings that no longer exist, it was part of the prison where Acadians were held during the Deportation of 1755-64.
5 Lighthouse Keeper’s House
One of the newest structures on the island, this house was built in the 1960s as quarters for the lightkeeper and his family. It was abandoned in 1972 when the lighthouse was automated.
6 “The Mi’kmaq” Interpretive Panel
Take in the view of the inner harbour from this vantage point and learn more about Mi’kmaq life in Kjipuktuk.
7 “The Acadians” Interpretive Panel
The second of two large sheds used to house Acadian prisoners during the Expulsion of 1755-64 was located near this panel.
View the lighthouse from the road, and be careful of the steep slope! The current lighthouse dates from 1919 and replaced an earlier one that was destroyed by fire. Several lighthouses of this octagonal design were built in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century.
9 Fort Charlotte Gate and Guard Room
The gate to Fort Charlotte dates to the final rebuild of the fort in the 1860s. A sentry, part of the Guard detachment, was posted here. The wooden bridge was retractable and controlled from inside the Guard Room, to your right as you enter. The Guard Room was the security office for the fort.
10 Parade Square
This grassy oval was the assembly area for the fort’s garrison, and also a small drill ground.
11 North Battery
This low slate wall is the oldest structure on the island and dates from the 1790s. The cannon mounted here protected the rear of the fort and were originally 24-pounders (guns that fired a 24 pound ball). Massive 68-pounders were mounted here in the 1860s.
These short stairways lead to rifle bunkers known as caponiers. These two caponiers were added in the 1820s and were shelters for riflemen to fire from cover in the event of an attack.
This brick forge was used by artillery artificers for making and repairing various metal objects such as pieces of gun carriages.
14 Artillery Store
This building was used to store equipment for loading and firing the guns, and was later used as a cookhouse.
15 RML Laboratory
This building was a special laboratory for manufacturing gunpowder cartridges for the RML (rifled muzzle-loading) guns.
16 Upper Battery
One of the key elements in the reconstruction of Fort Charlotte in the 1860s, the Upper Battery featured eight 9-inch RML guns arranged in a horseshoe. Each massive cannon had a range of about two miles and was capable of sinking the new “ironclad” warships.
If you stand in the centre of the battery, you can see how these guns had a clear shot all the way to the mouth of the harbour.
17 9-inch RML Gun Emplacements
These are the five remaining RML emplacements.
18 Quick-Fire Gun Emplacements
In the 1890s, three of the RMLs in the Upper Battery were replaced with 4.7 inch calibre Quick fire guns. Another example of evolving military technology, these guns utilized a self-contained brass shell and could fire five to six shots a minute.
19 Tunnels (Magazine Complex)
Head back down to the entrance to the magazine complex.
Here the ammunition needed for the Upper and Lower Batteries was stored in a protective network of underground tunnels.
This facility consisted of a central magazine for gunpowder storage, surrounded by a system for delivering cartridges and shells to the Upper Battery. The tunnels are best explored in company with one of our interpretation staff.
The tunnel complex brings you to part of the defensive ditch that surrounds Fort Charlotte. The ditch was an obstacle protecting the fort from potential attacking enemy troops. It was defended by five caponiers, or rifle bunkers.
21 Lower Battery
This second layer of powerful RML guns added massive firepower to Fort Charlotte. Buried inside these arched stone chambers, these four 10-inch guns were well protected from potential enemy fire.
22 Central Caponier
The largest of the fort’s five caponiers, this one also houses the main stairway that will lead you back from the Lower Battery to the Upper Battery.
Facilities and services
First Aid Station (Coal Shed)
For Your Safety
- Georges Island is a fortification that features steep masonry walls, surrounded by a ditch up to 9 metres deep.
- Please do not climb up on the walls or earthworks or out into gun openings. These areas are especially dangerous when wet.
- Young children should be under close supervision at all times.
- Be aware of steep inclines and watch out for low doorways, uneven steps, and floors.
- Please note there is no smoking permitted on the island.
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