Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site of Canada
Prince of Wales Fort Wall Stabilization Project
PWF Wall Stabilization Project© Parks Canada
Parks Canada has undertaken a multi-year program to stabilize the walls of the Fort. Water freezing and thawing for 250 years within the rubble interior of the walls has contributed to the weakening and collapse of some sections of the walls. Throughout the summer engineers, archaeologists, and stonemasons will be seen working.
Large wooden trusses have been placed to shore weak sections of the wall. Step by step, the stonemasons take apart and then rebuild the section of wall supported by a truss. So far the work has been completed at 2 trusses on the southeast bastion. This is the wall visible from Cape Merry Battery across the Churchill River. The stonemasons carefully remove the outer face stones, stabilize the inner core stones, and finally reset the face stones back in their original locations, just like putting a puzzle back together again.
Meanwhile, the archaeologists work ahead of the crew. They complete archaeological investigations of the ramparts before any other work goes ahead. One of the most exciting discoveries was a previously unknown section of the original 25-foot inner wall constructed between 1731 and 1740. Hudson's Bay Company records implied that this section had been dismantled at some point between 1742 – 1771 when the walls were expanded to 40 feet thick.
An important part of the project is the installation of a drainage system on the walls. Over 100 boreholes were drilled in the south, east, and north ramparts and the SE and NE bastions. These drain water from the top of the Fort to the footings and ground water. Moisture monitoring sensors were placed in several boreholes to provide constant, accurate information about the moisture levels in the walls. The next step is to install a waterproof membrane on the ramparts to channel water rain and meltwater into the boreholes to drain.
Parks Canada is working to preserve Prince of Wales Fort for future generations. Parks Canada staff on site at the Fort will be pleased to answer your questions about their work.