Cupids a cultural, heritage jewel, says premier
Hundreds assemble to officially open new Legacy Centre
Hundreds gathered under a setting sun in Cupids on Aug. 17 to officially mark the opening of a new Legacy Centre in the historic community, with Premier Danny Williams saying the centre and this year’s Cupids 400 celebrations are formal recognition of the fact that Cupids is becoming a tourism, cultural and heritage jewel.
“ I look forward to watching this jewel sparkle and shine in the years to come.” Williams commented.
It was a momentous event for the small community, which played host last week to the most significant cultural event to be staged in this province in quite some time.
Thousands of visitors streamed through the community during the six-day Cuipds Cove Soiree, which was billed as the marquee event of Cupids 400 Celebrations.
It all began with a ribbon-cutting in the parking lot of the new Legacy Centre, a fitting name for the $5 million facility, located in the centre of the community.
“ The work of Cupids 400 Inc. will ensure all Canadians will have a better understanding of the significance of the historic events that took place in this very harbour, beneath the protecting folds of Spectacle Head,” said Roy Dawe, chair of the Cupids 400 board of directors.”
He described the Legacy Centre and the soiree as “a dream come true.”
The event drew an impressive line-up of dignitaries, including Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, Lieut.-Gov. John Crosbie, Anthony Cary, the British High Commissioner to Canada, and many other elected officials at the federal, provincial and municipal level.
The centre tel ls the story of Canada’s first English colony and explains the provincial, national and international significance of Cupids, Williams explained.
It showcases the more then 160,000 artifacts that have been unearthed since archaeologist Bill Gilbert discovered John Guy’s plantation site in 1995.
It also includes exhibits on Guy’s colony, a history of Cupids, the historical connections between Cupids and other communities of the northern Avalon Peninsula, and its ties to Labrador.
There’s also a family history resource centre, a multi-purpose room and an archaeology lab.
It was built with funding from both the federal and provincial governments.
“ Right here we step back in time and experience little bits of everyday life from the 17th and the 18th century, all of this carefully and meticulously revealed after hundreds of years beneath the earth,” Williams said.
He added the centre will serve as a catalyst for future economic development in the region.
Keith Ashfield, the federal minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, said it was “awe-inspring” to consider what John Guy and his fellow settlers enduring when they landed in Cupids four centuries ago.
He noted that every city and town in Canada “ is linked in its existence to the perseverance and determination of a small beachhead of a community in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
There was special mention made of groups such as the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corp, the Cupids Historical Society, the Town of Cupids and archaeologist Bill Gilbert.
“All things are possible when you have a true and worthy cause,” Dawe said.
Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Legacy Centre in Cupids last week were, from left, Cupids 400 Inc. vice chair Lloyd Kane, Cupids Mayor Ron Laracy, town councillor Harold Akerman, ACOA Minister Keith Ashfield, Premier Danny Williams, Tourism and Culture Minister Terry French, Harbour Main MHA Tom Hedderson and Roy Dawe, chair of the Cupids 400 Inc. board of directors
Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, toured the new Cupids Legacy Centre prior to its official opening on Aug. 17. She was joined by Jean-Daniel Lafond and their daughter Marie-Éden.
Hundreds of people jammed the parking lot at the Cupids Legacy Centre to witness the official opening of the facility.