Port Joli hall remembered at ceremony
Ada Frank stands in Port Joli Community Hall, remembering as a child her days in the former school and, when older, dancing upstairs where she fell in love with her husband.
“I danced here many nights. My father said I wore out a lot of shoes so the building means a lot to me. I’m so glad we saved the building.”
Her favourite dance partner became Eugene Leslie, now deceased, who she married.
At 74, Frank is president of the Port Joli Community Association and one of numerous community volunteers who are restoring Region of Queens’ newest municipal heritage property. The ceremony was held Aug. 19. When the renovations are complete, the building, built in 1868, will house a meeting room, a new
kitchen and a community museum. Most of the exterior is completed. A new roof will be erected this fall and interior work will begin next year that will be carried out mostly by volunteers.
Frank started school in about 1940 and attended for 10 years. The Grade Primary8 one-room school hosted a wood stove in the centre with long double seats on either side.
“It was kind of neat. Lots of time only my twin brothers and I went to the school.” However, as many as 16 or 17 students attended during other years, she said.
“ We had a lot of fun. My mother (Angus MacAdams) was a school teacher and this was the first place she taught at.”
She said teachers came from all over Nova Scotia and boarded in the area. Brooklyn resident, Charles Richardson attended the ceremony. His grandfather taught at the school in the late 19th century. He walked from Brooklyn to Port Joli, boarded in the area, and then walked back on the weekend, according to Richardson’s father, he said.
He sold books on his way to make up for the meager salary teachers received then.
Frank added her and her children enjoyed many community suppers there as well.
Before the entertainment started, however, the upstairs served as a temperance hall that included a 19th century breathalyzer. It was a hole in the door, which is blocked off at the moment but will remain as part of the museum.
Association volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of labour with materials provided by fundraising and government funding, noted Mayor John Leefe. Association members are attempting to make it closely resemble an old photo- graph of the building, complete with handcrafted windows styled from those years and clapboard siding.
The area’s New England, Loyalist and Mi’kmaq heritage is diverse and will be highlighted in the museum as well.
Mayor Leefe noted the soil was too rocky to farm so, “Many of them (settlers) became fishermen and went to school here and later became members of the community association.” He also pointed out how much support the association is receiving from seasonal residents, many of whom attended the ceremony.
Danielle Robertson, one of the driving forces behind the project, said she became involved because her husband, Charles’ family held the original grant when the school was built.
“I thought for my children’s sake, we should try to do something for the building. She looked at it. “ This is very satisfying.” She added with a laugh she was certain no liquor entered the temperance hall when it became a dance centre.
Area councillor, Deputy Mayor Darlene Norman also praised the residents. She said it shows what people can do when “you have the ambition and determination to accomplish something.”