Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sherbrooke woodworkers win Province House reno

  • June 2 2021
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    

SHERBROOKE – Fresh from their artisanal triumphs reconstructing Historic Sherbrooke Village, the living museum’s skilled woodworkers have landed prestigious gigs restoring two of Nova Scotia’s most important landmarks in Halifax this summer.

Rodney MacDougall, Allan MacKeen and handful of other Village craftsmen will install two new doors they’ve built for the front entrance of the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence and restore and replace more than 100 windows at Province House. The work will proceed under current COVID-19 guidelines and is expected to be completed before fall.

“We’re proud as heck to be given the projects,” said the Village’s Executive Director Stephen Flemming. “Having this kind of opportunity to contribute to our heritage is great. These are our province’s central buildings of governance.”

Flemming confirmed the province approached the Village to do the work several weeks ago. “We probably have the most capacity to do this sort of heritage restoration work. One of the things that a Heritage Museum has is just those kinds of skill sets. From their perspective, it’s probably the wisest thing to do. It’s like a good working relationship within the family.”

MacDougall, director of maintenance and restoration at the Village, said the doors are nearly ready to install. “We’re just waiting for the hardware from England. They are each three-inch-thick pine. We’re just putting the coats of paint on them.”

The window job, though no less historically significant, is somewhat more complex. “A lot of the paint is coming off the glazing and falling into the windows. There are rotten sills. I think there’s water getting down into the windows. So, our job is to replace the rot on any windows we find, scrape and paint and beautify the building.”

He added: “I know there are at least six windows that need a complete rebuild with Douglas fir. So, we’re going to take them down, get them into my truck and out of Halifax, and drive them down to the shop here. We’re going to completely build them to match and then get them back up to Halifax.”

As for ensuring historical accuracy, he’s not concerned. “We can pretty well match to 95 per cent what was there,” he said. “We have we have all the old shaper cutters, and joiners. We have everything we need.”

MacKeen, who supervises the Village’s woodshop, said: “I think we’re getting a pretty good reputation. It does appear that we are being favourably reviewed by the province.”

Lloyd Hines, MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, who supported Historic Sherbrooke Village’s provincially funded $1 million renovation project last year, whole-heartedly agreed: “These guys are artists, and there’s nothing better than having your art admired to pick up your day.”

Added Flemming: “I think we’re lining up for what I hope will be regular relationships in the future.”