Pre­serv­ing the past

High­land Vil­lage comes back to life June 1

Cape Breton Post - - News Northside / Cape Breton - BY JULIE COLLINS jcollins@cb­

It took hard work and tenac­ity on the part of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers to cre­ate the High­land Vil­lage in Iona, the only liv­ing his­tory mu­seum for Gaelic lan­guage and her­itage in North Amer­ica.

Direc­tor Rod­ney Chais­son and his staff con­tinue to build on that com­mit­ment to fos­ter and pre­serve Gaelic cul­ture.

Vis­i­tors to High­land Vil­lage are of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to step back in time and ex­pe­ri­ence the lives of the Gaels from their pre-em­i­gra­tion homes in the High­lands and Is­lands of Scot­land com­menc­ing in the late 1700s to post First World War in Nova Sco­tia.

For the last four or five years, Chais­son said the main fo­cus has been on pro­gram­ming, vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, and mov­ing to first per­son.

“Ba­si­cally ev­ery as­pect of the Gaels from those eras, that’s what we try to bring to life at High­land Vil­lage,” he said. “We’ve been re­ally work­ing on grow­ing the story and ex­pe­ri­ence since we joined Nova Sco­tia Mu­seum to pro­vide more of a cul­tural emer­sion and build on folk life skills.”

There are also big plans for on­go­ing site devel­op­ment.

“We brought the church here in 2003 and our re­con­structed log cabin will be ready for the June 1 open­ing.”

Re­fer­ring to the ded­i­cated staff that has been with the High­land Vil­lage, some for over 30 years, Chais­son said they have an un­der­stand­ing of how the vil­lage has evolved over the years and can pass this on to some of the newer staff.

High­land Vil­lage opens for the sea­son June 1 and fea­tures a fairly am­bi­tious sched­ule of events that will take place over the sum­mer.

“We are go­ing to con­tinue with the work we’ve been do­ing on first per­son with our staff,” he said. “We are bring­ing back the can­dle­light tours and are go­ing to do some old time school dances in the school­house. We are also go­ing to bring back our tra­di­tional cod­fish sup­per in Au­gust, so I guess there is a lit­tle bit new and a lit­tle bit of old from the past.”

Visit www.high­landvil­ for more in­for­ma­tion on pro­grams, an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions or the his­tory of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

RIGHT: Aileen MacLean is shown sit­ting out­side the Black House at the Nova Sco­tia High­land Vil­lage, Hec­tor’s Point in Iona.


High­land Vil­lage staff Matthew Moore and Phyl­lis Wil­liams en­joy a cup of tea in the MacIver/Nash house.

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