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Fire Destroys a Missisquoi Historical Society Building and Contents

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--April 14, 2015.

larger_fire_1_0.jpgA fire at the Missisquoi Historical Society's annex known as "Bill's Barn" and located in Stanbridge East, QC was severe. The fire, of unknown origin, occurred on Saturday April 11, 2015 resulted in complete devastation of the structure and its contents. The building was used as a storage facility for oversized artefacts such as carriages and sleighs and the Missisquoi Museum's display cases and picnic tables and was not open to the public.

While the historically significant collection of farm equipment was no longer stored at the site, the Missisquoi Museum has lost its entire collection of carriages dating from the 19th century, most of the antique sleighs, its collection of school desks and other 19th century objects. Most significant however was the loss of unique historical objects from Missisquoi County including the 1890s water wagon from the Bedford Agricultural Fair, a 19th century wooden snow plough that cleared the roads between Bedford and Dunham and a horse-drawn hearse made by carriage maker Ari O. Wescott around 1900. The objects are too scorched and burned to be restored.

Vice-President of the historical society François Reid stated that “the loss of the collection will be deeply felt by the Museum and also by our community; the cost in the end will not only mean dollars. There is a loss of our history and heritage that cannot be replaced.”

The board of directors was extremely grateful to the local citizens who alerted emergency services and to the Stanbridge East and Bedford fire departments that contained the blaze. “It is obvious,” said Reid, "that no historic building or collection is immune from fire.” The Missisquoi Historical Society will now look at its options. Of the many disasters that can strike a museum, a fire is among the most destructive.