Fort Henry improvements among Parks Canada site investments

The Government of Canada is investing $12 million into preserving Parks Canada sites, including Kingston's Fort Henry.

At Fort Henry's Great Hall on Monday morning, Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen announced $12 million over three years for infrastructure improvement projects at Fort Henry, Ottawa's Laurier House, Fort Wellington in Prescott, and Sir John Johnson House in Williamstown.

This block of funding for these heritage sites in eastern Ontario is the first part of $557 million announced by the Government of Canada in late 2022.

MP Mark Gerretsen said on Monday that historical sites like those getting work thanks to the funding are crucial to tourism in the towns and cities that house them.

"There's a real importance to preserving these national historic sites because they're what attract people," Gerretsen said.

"Seeing these investments going to, in particular Fort Henry right here, really will be helpful for our community in terms of continuing to provide great experiences for people when they come to visit Kingston."

As part of the reparations at Fort Henry, Parks Canada will restore deteriorated mortar and replace stones within the property's masonry, and the West Branch Ditch Bridge will be replaced.

Fort Henry also had updates to its sewer system completed in late 2022 as part of a Department of National Defense led project.

According to the federal government's website, the total work being done at Fort Henry will account for $9.1 million of the funding.

Other projects include a new roof at Laurier House, fire safety system replacement at Sir John Johnson House, and replacing Fort Wellington's wooden fortification.

Gerretsen said that while most supports for businesses and individuals from the pandemic are complete as they become less needed, the tourism industry is still rebounding and needs support.

He says the work at these locations is part a continuous effort to maintain these attractions and their historical and cultural significance.

"This is really about that continual maintenance, and I don't think it will ever end," Gerretsen said.

"That's part of having a rich history that we want to remember and to showcase."

Fort Henry draws upwards of 100,000 visitors to Kingston annually.

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative