The government of the People’s Republic of China has made a grant of EC $50,000 to complete the restoration of the historic Powder Magazine at Fort Shirley at the Cabrits National Park and to install a museum in the building.
On Thursday morning, China’s ambassador to Dominica, Wang Zonglai, presented a cheque for the amount to the Director of National Parks, David Williams, and to supervisor of restoration, Dr. Lennox Honychurch, at a short ceremony at Fort Shirley.
The Ambassador expressed China’s desire to assist Dominica in developing and maintaining its rich heritage and culture as represented by this historic site.
Dr. Honychurch explained that this would be used to restore sections of the building and to update displays that were installed since 1985. The installation of electricity and the placement of more modern display cases for viewing historic artifacts are part of the project.
When completed, there will be three display chambers. The first room will show the nature and Amerindian settlement of the area. The second will deal with the maritime heritage of Portsmouth and the Cabrits, while the third room will cover the African and European military life at the garrison.
Williams thanked the Chinese government for the donation on behalf of the Division of National Parks and Forestry, the Ministry of Agriculture, and by extension the government and people of Dominica.
The Fort Shirley Museum will become part of the Cabrits Heritage and Ecology Centre (CHEC), an educational and tourism institution where local, regional and international groups can stay to learn about the natural history of Dominica.
Fort Shirley has already become a popular venue for weddings, conferences and visiting university groups. The completion of a hostel in the old Troops Barracks will further enhance the site and will earn income so as to maintain Dominica’s most important historic site and make it self-sustaining.