VICTORIA MINES – Canadian Army engineers are stepping up to save the ruined historic St. Alphonsus church in Victoria Mines from near-certain demolition as part of a major military exercise in Cape Breton.
Soldiers from the 4 Engineers Support Regiment are restoring the church’s decaying roof and crumbling bell tower as part of Exercise Nihilo Sapper 2017, an annual test of their combat engineering skills needed in conflict or disaster zones.
“From the inside we can see there’s a lot of damage and being up on there and looking, it’s old and taken a lot of weather and there’s masonry work and concrete damage,” said Master Cpl. Michael Galbiati-Bourassa.
On top of that, a tree has grown and sprouted leaves in the bell tower, which is also infested by pigeons.
A walk through the 101-year-old church’s main hall revealed a churned-up floor and walls ruined by water and rising damp.