For the best view of the entirety of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, the historic Dow’s Hill fortifications are unparalleled. Situated high above English Harbour, the panoramic view takes in the dramatic natural beauty of the Park. Plan a short stop with one of our visitor services guides, or host your own intimate event, Dow’s Hill is the place to be.
The fortifications at Dow’s Hill were started in 1789 to secure the ridge above the Dockyard from a land attack. Designed by the Royal Engineers, the stone wall aesthetic was intended to impress and overwhelm an attacking force by making the fortification seem larger than it actually was.
The fortification included Archibald Dow’s house at the summit of the hill. Archibald Dow was appointed the Dockyard Storekeeper, a civilian position, in 1771 and continued to reside on the hill until the Royal Engineers appropriated his land. In compensation, Dow received £8,354.08 and the fortification was named after him. The engineers retained the building and it was converted into a senior officer house. By the 1840s, however, it was the country residence of the Governor of the Leeward Islands. An earthquake in 1843 levelled the building, costing Governor Fitzroy more than £1,000 in furniture and possessions alone. This earthquake ended full time occupation of the fortification.
In 1989, the Government of Canada’s International Development Agency (CIDA) granted the Park $11 million EC to build the Interpretation Centre, including the installation of the historic sound and light show at Dow’s Hill. The development allowed the Park to better accommodate more tourists and opened up Dow’s Hill for visitation and events.