Armstrong announces $385,000 for Ottawa House museum

Andrew Wagstaff
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Funding hoped to be final push for restoration project

A restoration project years in the making could well be on the home stretch thanks to a major funding announcement delivered at Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum on Friday afternoon.

Parrsborough Shore Historical Society President Colin Curleigh (far right) presents a Tom Forestall print to Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodobit Valley MP Scott Armstrong after the MP announced $385,000 in funding for the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum on Friday. Also on hand were (from left) Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie and Cumberland County deputy warden Don Smith.

PARRSBORO – Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong made the announcement in front of a packed crowd at the museum, drawing cheers and applause from many of the volunteers of the Parrsborough Shore Historical Society that have been carrying the project on their backs.

Built in the 1770s, Ottawa House is perhaps most famous for being the summer residence of Sir Charles Tupper, a former prime minister and Father of Confederation. While it played many other historic roles in Parrsboro, it was the connection to Tupper that Armstrong focused on.

“As a Father of Confederation, Sir Charles Tupper has made an important contribution to this province and to Canada, and it is fitting that he be remembered through the transformation of his summer home,” said Armstrong, who made the presentation on behalf of Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover.

The MP said he considered himself very lucky to have the seat once held by Tupper, and later by the likes of Robert Coates and Bill Casey.

The funding, which will match dollars raised by the society through other sources up to $385,000, will allow for the completion of the project, according to historical society president Colin Curleigh.

“Raising money is a huge challenge,” he said. “This major contribution will be the boost – the catalyst – for us to finish this project of restoration.”

With major repairs to the building’s back wall already complete, the restoration project will now focus on the front wall, as well as the upper and lower deck, Curleigh explained. Work to be done also includes leveling of the parking area, and “modernization of the museum” interior, which he said would be done in large part by volunteers.

Both Curleigh and Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie offered praise for the many volunteers that put thousands of hours into the facility each year to keep it maintained and operating.

Among the volunteers are professional carpenters, plumbers, heating specialists and more, whose expertise would be too costly for the society if they were to bill for their efforts, according to Curleigh.

Baillie estimated the value of that volunteer labour to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“There would not be an Ottawa House for the province, for the feds or the municipalities to fund, if it were not for them,” said Baillie, who has been dealing with the provincial department of transportation and infrastructure renewal on considerable work done in the Ottawa House area.

“Our volunteers cover the whole spectrum,” said Curleigh. “Without people at every level and every trade, we wouldn’t be able to do it. Their dedication and motivation is the thing that keeps us all going.”

Also on hand to speak on behalf of their municipalities were Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith and Cumberland County deputy warden Don Smith.

One of the campaign’s major fundraising projects in the next year will be the sale of prints of an Ottawa House painting by renowned Nova Scotian artist Tom Forestall, the first of which Curleigh presented to Armstrong in appreciation for his support. The MP said the painting would hang in his Amherst constituency office.

“This is a symbol of what we can all do when we work together,” he said.

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Ottawa House, Parrsborough Shore Historical Society, Canadian Heritage

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Canada, Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • Roger Roome
    March 22, 2014 - 16:56

    It is an insult to Bill Casey to compare him in any way to Bob Coates, who did nothing but embarrass us, and ended in disgrace.