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Joan Bisson Dow

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Year of Award: 
2002
Joan Bisson Dow

Joan Bisson Dow is one of the founders of the Gaspesian British Heritage Village in New Richmond West. “One of the reasons we decided to build a Village was to preserve the old furniture and artefacts that were part of the local heritage. When we asked for articles for our Loyalist Days exhibition (as part of the Bi-Centennial celebrations of the arrival of 485 United Empire Loyalists on the Gaspé Coast) we were told “Jim has that in BC” or “Dave took that to Ontario” or too many who indeed said “we threw that in the dump”. So when we heard there was land for sale which was part of an old ship-yard, we didn’t hesitate to begin thinking of a “Village” to preserve our wonderful heritage. As Co-Chairman of the Gaspesian British Heritage Village, I was chair of the committee set up to choose the buildings which were to make up the “Village”. At the request of then Culture minister – Lise Bacon, we accepted the Gendron Store which had been designated a heritage building and could not be destroyed. After the Village opened, I acted as volunteer manager for most of the twelve years.”

The Gendron Store now houses a reception centre, where visitors are greeted by costumed interpreters; a boutique, which is stocked with local handicrafts and souvenirs; and an interpretation centre, which documents the history of the fishing industry and of the settlement of the region – Acadian, Loyalist, Channel Islanders and others. It is one of many buildings which have been relocated since then, including a lighthouse, a school, a barn and a church.