16th-century French cross found at N.B. development site
The development of a new monument to Saint John’s Third Field Artillery Regiment has hit a roadblock recently with the discovery of an artifact on the proposed waterfront site.
A grassy patch near the mouth of the St. John River was the proposed site of a new gunners monument. But an unexpected discovery during preliminary site work brought plans to a grinding halt.
“As we started construction we discovered all of a sudden that there were many more artifacts in many more places that they had though previously, and so we found this what turned out to be this wonderful 16th century French lead cross,” says John Irving, a former honorary colonel with the Third Field Artillery Regiment.
Archeologists believe that the tiny cross dates all the way back to the settlement of nearby provincial historic site Fort La Tour in the 17th century.
Now not only the artifact, but the site itself has been turned over to the province of New Brunswick, to allow archeologists to continue to search the area for more artifacts.
“They’ve taken on the assignment and expanded everyone’s knowledge of how big the actual site of First Nations and Fort La Tour is, and now the whole area is in the zone of protection,” adds Irving.
Unfortunately for the Third Field Artillery Regiment, the discovery means they will need to find a new site for the planned monument. The Regiment has plenty of history itself, dating back to 1793.
“Through every war, through every deployment, gunners and soldiers from this armoury have deployed overseas,” says retired Captain Tom Watters. “Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and we currently have soldiers about to deploy to Europe this year.”
A new site for the monument has already been secured in partnership with the Port of Saint John. It will be located not too far from its original site, at the end of a long wharf.
“It’s an absolutely stellar location because the cruise ships will be able to see this gun as they come into port, and it’ll be standing ready,” described Watters.
“It’s a clear view of Partridge Island, which you can see behind us, and that’s where many of the soldiers in the First World War and in the Second World War trained or served before they went overseas,” adds Irving.
The plan is now to build the monument at the new site, with an unveiling scheduled to take place sometime in November.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Lyall.