Wakeham Hall - The Story

I may be crazy - But………
History and Heritage Does Matter.  I care. Do you?      (REPRINTED FROM A SPEC ARTICLE)
Hopefully, many of you know of my involvement in trying to save St. John's Anglican Church Hall from demolition.  It is still my ambition to do so, but like many worthwhile things it is an uphill battle and often a lonely road to take.

In an email I recently received from a friend about Wakeham Hall, he stated that "Once it's gone, it's gone."  And this is true. There seems to be a dangerous cycle in Gaspé that we are in the constant, costly habit of undoing the mistakes made in the past as far as town planning is concerned.  If one were to look at old Gaspé brochures or remember the Gaspé of years gone by, you will remember a tranquil, quaint village that was a major tourist attraction with many visitors from the States as well as from the rest of Canada...  They were drawn to our tranquility, natural beauty and the quaintness of our town.  As you know, much has happened over the past years to change the appearance of the town - both planned and unplanned (such as the burning of Baker's Hotel, a major tourist destination). So we strive  to do what we can to ensure that Gaspé remains attractive to its residents as well as for our visitors  and it is important that these efforts are being made to make our town a more attractive and more likely tourist attraction.

What would be the purpose of the hall once it is salvaged and kept from demolition?
The vision - to have a living history museum that represents the pioneer population that first settled Wakeham and its surrounding area.  The museum space would be divided into sections representing the different occupations and activities that the early settlers were involved in, such as agriculture, the various fishing enterprises - ex. the salmon fishery etc.  There would be a whaling display representing the early Gaspé Bay Whalers, carpentry activities and other activities that these early settlers pursued. These divisions would include early photos that capture, on film, examples of these pursuits. Also among the spaces would be representations of early Gaspé life such as a typical kitchen, parlor, bedroom, workshop, etc.  There would be large panels that would display genealogies and family histories of each pioneer family, as well as photos representing these families.

At a recent meeting with the mayor of Gaspé, it was made very clear that, if these efforts would come to be, that it would have to be a community effort, which I entirely agree with.  It would be a community museum that comes about by community efforts.  It is now my goal to develop community interest in this vision or another vision.  Too often we rely totally on government assistance to accomplish such things but it is possible, if a community works together, to accomplish great things! One such example is what has taken place with the activities of the Over Fifty Club which has a membership of 150 people. Bravo on a job well done!

I'm encouraged to see the increased efforts of Parks Canada in their acknowledgment of the early inhabitants of the park area and other efforts in heritage preservation, such as the designation of Fame Point of National Historical Significance, efforts being made to find other uses for the Cap Cove Church, the continued efforts of those involved in the preservation of the Corner of the Beach Anglican Church and other various community efforts.    (CONTINUE)