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This article first appeared in the September 12, 2012 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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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.

Fairbairn House
HUZZAH! HERITAGE! (From left) Pontiac MP Mathieu Ravignat, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green, Caisse Populaire Desjardins Manager Roch Boulianne, Gatineau MNA Stephanie Vallee, La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere, Fairbairn House Treasurer John Lowden, Cantley Mayor Steve Harris (behind), Fairbairn House Contractor Marc Paris and Wakefield Coun. Louis Rompre cut the ribbon to kick-off the Fairbairn House opening day Sept. 1. Lucy Scholey photo.

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.

Fairbairn House
The Fairbairn House is now ready for weekend tours and exhibits. Lucy Scholey photo.

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.