Busy year at Beaulne

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Coat­i­cook

Coat­i­cook’s Beaulne Mu­seum is hav­ing a bustling year, partly be­cause the town is cel­e­brat­ing its 150th an­niver­sary, but also be­cause the Beaulne Mu­seum is a busy and pop­u­lar Coat­i­cook in­sti­tu­tion, well sup­ported by the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion. Be­sides its per­ma­nent

ex­hi­bi­tion of the Chateau Arthur-Os­more-Nor­ton, al­most a dozen, di­verse art ex­hi­bi­tions, a cou­ple of fes­tive, fam­ily fun days, and Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon teas dur­ing the summer, three spe­cial projects will high­light the town’s col­or­ful his­tory this year.

At the helm of it all is the Mu­seum’s en­thu­si­as­tic Cu­ra­tor and Direc­tor of the last six years, Fran­cois Thierry Toé. “We have three im­por­tant ex­hibits this year: a year-long ex­hi­bi­tion on women’s fashion over the years that we cre­ated es­pe­cially for the 150th an­niver­sary; the Jardins de Pion­niers which we worked on with the Ta­ble de Con­cer­ta­tion ( Ta­ble de Con­cer­ta­tion Culturelle de la MRC de Coat­i­cook) and in­au­gu­rated re­cently; and the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig,” com­mented Mr. Toé in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal that pre­ceded a tour of the spa­cious Chateau and its nu­mer­ous, cap­ti­vat­ing ex­hibits.

Orig­i­nally from the Ivory Coast, Mr. Toé had been in Canada less than two years when he vis­ited Coat­i­cook for the first time to ap­ply for his present po­si­tion. “It was dif­fi­cult to find mu­seum work in Mon­treal, even with qual­i­fi­ca­tions; it’s a very close-knit com­mu­nity. So I was ad­vised to look for work in the re­gions and I saw an ad for the mu­seum in Coat­i­cook, so I ap­plied. When you come to a new coun­try you have to be ready for change and able to adapt - I’m good at adapt­ing! But I fell in love very fast with the re­gion, it’s close to Mon­treal and to Sher­brooke; it’s a nice qual­ity of life,” said the Direc­tor.

“All of my fam­ily is back in the Ivory Coast, but they en­cour­age me. I like to go back and visit, although it’s costly, but I can talk on the phone a lot with my fam­ily and I read news­pa­pers from there. It’s pos­si­ble these days to live al­most any­where with­out los­ing your iden­tity. But it’s im­por­tant to have an open­ness of spirit – with­out that you might as well stay home! Go­ing to a new coun­try is very en­rich­ing; you learn a lot from other cul­tures,” said Mr. Toé.

The Cu­ra­tor of the Beaulne also spoke about the im­por­tant role the Mu­seum has in the 150th cel­e­bra­tion. “Our role is to pro­mote and pre­serve the lo­cal her­itage and his­tory. All of our col­lec­tions are the wit­nesses of that past, that his­tory. We also have a so­cial role in ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic and ex­plain­ing why cer­tain arte­facts are im­por­tant.”

That mis­sion is be­ing well-served with one of this year’s big projects: the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig at the site of the Queen Ho­tel, right be­hind the Mu­seum. “The Ho­tel op­er­ated be­tween 1863 and 1897, then there was a fire and a ter­race was built on the site. The idea was that there should be arte­facts there, ones that would have been in the base­ment of the Ho­tel. Arte­facts give a much more con­crete idea of what life was like at the time,” ex­plained Mr. Toé. The ar­chae­ol­o­gists who came in May to carry out the dig did in­deed find some in­ter­est­ing ob­jects. “They found old nails, jew­ellery, ce­ram­ics, bot­tles… When ar­chae­ol­o­gists find ob­jects they in­ter­pret them and then make a re­port. They’ll be pre­sent­ing a pre­lim­i­nary re­port next week in a press con­fer­ence.”

The mu­seum also hosted a pub­lic ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig, where peo­ple had the chance to dig for arte­facts them­selves, which was at­tended by about two hun­dred and fifty dig­gers and cu­ri­ous on­look­ers. “The pub­lic re­ally en­joyed the dig. The peo­ple, and they were mostly from Coat­i­cook, were dis­cov­er­ing their own his­tory!”

Another im­por­tant event that the Beaulne Mu­seum is tak­ing part in is com­ing up soon: Town­ship­pers’ Day on Septem­ber 13th. “We’ll be open for free to the pub­lic and we’ll hold our tea ser­vice. We’ll have live mu­si­cal artists, too,” said Mr. Toé.

“I love ev­ery­thing about my job. I work for the peo­ple, for the past, the present and the fu­ture. In one hun­dred years the peo­ple will have even more pride in the arte­facts that we are con­serv­ing to­day. Those arte­facts be­come rare, they have more value and more his­tory; there’s more hu­man­ity in the ob­jects. You can’t put a price on those things.”

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

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