The view from the Fort St. James National Historic Site with most of the pier intact.

New pier for historic site

The pier at the Fort St. James National Historic Site with reconstruction of the structure to begin later this year.

Not only cats have nine lives, perhaps.

The pier at the Fort St. James National Historic Site may get its fourth life, with the reconstruction of the structure to begin later this year.

The pier, also known as the “tramway,” was historically where goods were both loaded into and unloaded from boats for the trade route to bring supplies and deliver furs.

The structure is slated for demolition as it has become unsafe over time and the pilings have been pushed up by frost.

The demolition began earlier than expected, and a glow in the night resulted in a call by site security to the RCMP and fire department on Mar. 12 at 5:30 a.m.

RCMP arrived and said they found a 10 foot by 20 foot area of the pier damaged by fire and the fire department put out the fire with shovels and snow.

It was only after some investigation the RCMP said they came to realize the fire was part of the planned demolition.

But the miscommunication was rectified, and Site Manager Bob Grill said the plan is to begin reconstruction this fall, with the process planned for two stages.

The first stage will be to rebuild the section which goes from the shore to the water.

The second stage is not yet confirmed as it will be the reconstruction of the actual pier, which will require an environmental assessment and permitting process. The second phase would not take place this year.

The original pier was built during the fur trade era of the 1890s and included tracks which allowed carts to be pulled up to the fur warehouse carrying goods sent to the fur trade post, and sent down loaded with furs for the outside world.

The wharf and pier were first rebuilt in the 1970s, then again in the early 1990s or late 1980s said Grill.

The absence of the pier through this summer will have some return visitors to the site perhaps taking a second look at the changed view.


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