Driving along Water Street in Carbonear these days, you’ll notice there’s a lot of activity happening at the large stone building known as Rorke’s Stone Jug.
Built in the 1860s, the property has not been in use since The Stone House bar closed in 2008.
It would have been a real shame to see that building go to waste. One needs to only look at what happened one town over with Ridley Hall in Harbour Grace. That historical stone structure was due to undergo substantial renovations in the 1990s, but that vision was quashed by an unfortunate case of arson. That building now appears to be a lost cause.
The value of heritage in this province is increasingly recognized as one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s supreme assets. Whether it’s historic structures or old folk traditions, there’s a public interest in these matters with potential economic spinoffs abound.
In Placentia, an in-progress exhibit focusing on the “Voices of Placentia Bay” (see Page A10) will tie in nicely with the Voices of Placentia Bay Festival, an event that celebrates the area’s storied musical heritage. Offering a further avenue to explore that heritage is a smart move on the local historical society’s part.
It seems that volunteers are often heavily involved in advancing heritage causes. But sometimes it takes people with deep pockets too. That would appear to be the case with Rorke’s Stone Jug.
On Fogo Island, a lot of money has been spent on the massive and fancy Fogo Island Inn and the establishment of the Shorefast Foundation. Both place a heavy emphasis on the links between culture and the economy.
While the inn itself has a modern look, local culture played a substantial role in its design. The structure resembles a traditional fishing stage, though on a much grander scale. Furniture and quilts filling the inn’s interior also took into account local building and quilting traditions.
With a bit of creativity and a commitment to recognizing the value of our unique cultural heritage, there are plenty of opportunities out there to create attractions that will make people want to explore communities.
Of course, such endeavors are not just about CFAs (come from aways). Valuing heritage is equally about valuing your community. Work to promote heritage builds community pride and invests people in the future of where they live.