Carbonear Island exhibit receives federal funding
Town wants historic stronghold to become anchor tourism attraction for entire region
Back in the 1960s visitors were encouraged to “Drop anchor in Carbonear — Hub of the Bay,” a line which became the town’s unofficial slogan.
In the 21st century the town would like to see the small island at the mouth of its harbour become an “anchor attraction for the entire region.”
That dream came another step closer to reality last week when the federal government dropped more than $100,000 to develop an exhibit that will help interpret the significance of Carbonear Island in the history of Newfoundland.
The exhibit will be housed inside the town’s historic Railway Station next door to the Conception Bay
Regional Community Centre, where Senator Fabian Manning made the announcement last Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Manning said the $ 100,444 for Carbonear is being made available through the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF).
CAF is an economic stimulus initiative that is providing $ 1 billion nationally over two years to help create jobs and sustain employment in communities impacted by the global economic downturn, Manning said. He said, “ the Carbonear Island Exhibit... will explore early and winter residence, military fortifications, the lighthouse period, fishing use and shipwrecks around the island.”
“Whenever you can infuse more than a quarter of a million dollars into the town’s economy, that’s a significant contribution.” — Ches Ash, chair, Carbonear Island
It will highlight how area residents in the late 1600s and early 1700s came together on Carbonear Island to successfully repel Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville and his forces, which were attacking Newfoundland’s coastal settlements at the time. That’s the same D’Iberville after whom the Coastal Heritage Hiking Trail is named, one of the projects for which Manning announced federal development funding last year.
“The exhibit will add an important piece of Newfoundland and Labrador history to the interpretation available at the (Railway Station) museum, which will also undergo renovations and landscaping improvements to accommodate the new exhibit,” Manning noted.
Welcoming the funding announcement for the Carbonear Island Project, mayor Sam Slade said it would not have been possible without the assistance of M-RON (Mariner Resource Opportunities Network) and the Carbonear Island Resource Committee.
The committee is made up representatives from M-RON, Carbonear Heritage Society, Harbour Authority, Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corp. and Tourism Association, and the provincial department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. Most of those groups were represented at last week’s announcement.
Mayor Slade noted “the (provincial) department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Service Canada and ACOA have also showed great support to the committee over the years.
He said the Carbonear Island Exhibit is one of the key initiatives in the overall tourism destination development strategy for the island, which was launched in 2004.
With financial help from ACOA, and the provincial depart- ments of Innovation, Trade and Rural Renewal and Human Resources, Labour and Employment, the mayor said, “this particular initiative will now become a reality.”
The late mayor Claude Garland was the founding chairman of the Carbonear Island Resource Committee. He was succeeded in that role by former councillor Fred Earle. Ches Ash, the town’s current deputy mayor now chairs the committee.
Ash told The Compass afterwards on top of the latest funding announced last week, Service Canada has already contributed $73,713; the provincial department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, $58,116 and the town of Carbonear $29,400, for a grand total of $261,673. He explained the municipal commitment comes in the form of in-kind contributions, such as use of town equipment, office space and supplies.
He said they hope to get the project off the ground by the middle of this month. The project will employ 8 to 10 local people for 16 weeks.
It will be divided into two components, one will see extensive renovations and repairs to both the interior and exterior of the historic Railway Station building and grounds to prepare them for the exhibit.
The other will be the exhibit itself, which will be designed by a professional designer.
Ash said it is hoped the exhibit can be in place in time for this year’s tourism season, or at least part of it.
The exhibit opening will mark the completion of Phase 1 of what the committee hopes will be a two or three phase project, including an archaeological dig on Carbonear Island itself. The committee already has environmental approval for the proposed dig, which is pending the approval of funding.
While the exhibit itself is expected to generate interest in the project, Ash said, “there is already a fair amount of local interest in the island with people coming forward all the time with new pieces of information on it.”
As for the economic impact on the town, the chairman said, “whenever you can infuse more than a quarter of a million dollars into the town’s economy, that’s a significant contribution.”
Carbonear Island was first designated as a provincial historic site in 1954, and a plaque was placed on the island. In 1981 another plaque was unveiled in the Carbonear Memorial Park, designating the island as a place of national historic significance.
Referring to the project approved last week, mayor Slade said, “we look forward to the completion of this initiative and toward future partnerships on other initiatives outlined in the Carbonear Island Development Strategy.”
Bill Bowman/The Compass APPROVAL - Senator Fabian Manning announces more than $225,000 in federal funds for recreation projects in Upper Island Cove and Harbour Grace, and a heritage tourism project for Carbonear while Upper Island Cove mayor George Adams and Harbour Grace mayor Don Coombs look on approvingly.