Battle Of The Atlantic To Be Experienced In Halifax

May 18, 2014 by Tom MacGregor
A computer-generated  image shows where  Battle of the Atlantic  Place (shown at right  with the green roof) will be built along Halifax’s waterfront. [ILLUSTRATION: BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC PLACE]

A computer-generated image shows where Battle of the Atlantic Place (shown at right with the green roof) will be built along Halifax’s waterfront.
ILLUSTRATION: BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC PLACE

A new structure that will showcase Canada’s Naval Memorial, HMCS Sackville, is to be constructed on Halifax’s historic waterfront as a tribute to all who served in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Battle of the Atlantic Place will be built on 4.5 acres of pre-Confederation waterfront allocated to the project by the government of Nova Scotia. It will be built out over the water on pilings where the wartime corvette is currently docked during the summer months.

Organizers emphasize that Battle of the Atlantic Place is not a museum. It is a building which will let the visitor experience the battle in many ways.

“The Battle of the Atlantic was a national achievement and this is a national project,” said Ted Kelly, a retired Royal Canadian Navy captain. “We want to tell the story of all Canadians who were involved, the people who built the ships, the sailors from all across Canada and the more than 400 communities that gave their names to ships.”

Visitors to the new centre will go through a series of rooms which tell the story of Canada in the early 20th century with the First World War, the roaring Twenties and the Depression. Another area will tell the story of the storm clouds of war brewing in Europe and finally Canada at war and the legacy of peace which followed.

In the Atlantic Theatre guests will be surrounded on three sides by digital projection surfaces and 360-degree digital sound system. There will be corvette and U-boat simulators to give visitors a sense of being on board the boats when called to action.

Finally guests will arrive at Convoy Hall where HMCS Sackville will be on display along with a Canso flying boat used by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Guests will be able to tour Sackville and the hall will contain many artifacts associated with the convoys. Shipside chats will take place in the hall.

The federal, provincial and muni-cipal governments have all contri-buted money to the development of the project which is expected to cost between $180 and $205 million.

“The idea of creating such a place has really been around since the 1980s when we first began to preserve Sackville,” said Kelly. “If Sackville is to be preserved in perpetuity, it needs to be protected from the elements. You need to get it under cover.”

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of the war, lasting from the beginning of the war in 1939 until VE-Day in May, 1945. More than 1,200 naval and merchant ships of different classes were built in support of the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. By 1945 the RCN had almost 500 ships and 110,000 men and women. Roughly a quarter of all air squadrons committed to the Atlantic were RCAF while a quarter of all Royal Air Force Coastal Command crews were Canadian. Canada’s merchant navy grew to 178 ships and almost 15,000 personnel.

A design by the international firm Stantec Architecture was chosen from 10 consortia comprising companies across North America and Europe. The structure will feature glass facades, vaulted halls and galleries and spectacular views of Halifax Harbour. BRC Imagination Arts has created the storyboard design to provide an exciting experience for visitors of all ages.

More information can be found on the website www.battleoftheatlanticplace.ca.

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