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Refurbished Fairbairn House opens as home to Hills heritage
By Lucy Scholey
You can now say that Wakefield is home to all in the Gatineau Hills. The Fairbairn House opened Sept. 1 as the region's first heritage centre.
While it once served as Wakefield pioneer William Fairbairn's homestead, the 151-yearold house will now house artefacts, souvenirs, stories and exhibits particular to Hills history.
"We're going to be telling our children and grandchildren about their home," said Michael Cooper, president of the Fairbairn House Solidarity Cooperative, during the first open house.
More than 140 people crowded outside the field for the ribbon-cutting event and more toured the recently-renovated building. Downstairs, pictures of Fairbairn's family hung from the walls and a few heritage heirlooms were on display in the exhibit rooms. There was still plenty of space on the cream-coloured walls for future exhibits.
Jean Lafl amme and Patricia MacGowan dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Fairbairn for the event, and four musicians, a popcorn machine, baked goods and horse rides kept visitors entertained during the milestone day.
The Fairbairn House Solidarity Co-operative raised $525,000 during the past seven years to fund the building's exterior and interior renovation. The Municipality of La Peche has been a huge contributor, donating $276,000 toward the cause. The Caisse Populaire Desjardins and local business support group CLD des Collines are also major supporters.
La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere gushed about the home's new function.
"Without the help of all our volunteers and supporters, this project could have never happened," he said. "It's not the end, it's only the beginning of the telling of a new story."
The Fairbairn House is open for tours every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Thanksgiving weekend. There are more special events planned, including the inauguration of a Trans-Canada Trail loop Sept. 8, a Classic MG Car Club show-and-tell Sept. 15, a presentation on cabinet making with Masham woodworker Lucile Martineau Sept. 22 and a heritage tug-of-war Oct. 6.