Port Joli hall re­mem­bered at cer­e­mony

The Queens County Advance - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Roberts

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.”

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