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Save Wakeham Hall! An Open Letter to the Mayor of Gaspé

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October 23, 2012.

Ville de Gaspé
Attention : M. François Roussy, Mayor
25, rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville
Gaspé (Quebec)
G4X 2A5

larger_wakeham.1_0.jpgRE. WAKEHAM HALL

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

We at QAHN have been closely following the developments relating to the historic Wakeham Hall in Gaspé. One of our member-organizations, Heritage Gaspé / Heritage Gaspésie, has kept us appraised of the situation, including the City of Gaspé’s apparent wish to demolish this building, in spite of a petition, widely circulated among the English- speaking residents of Wakeham, with significant support from local French-speaking residents.

Traditionally in Quebec, the church hall was the place where a community gathered. In many of our smaller villages, some of which have now been swallowed up by larger towns and cities, the institutions that these local communities once cherished are increasingly at risk. Once a community’s point of reference is removed, the anchor that holds that community together, and that gives it a physical connection to a particular place and a commonality of history, is lost forever.

As a Quebec-wide network of historical societies, museums and other heritage groups, both English- and French-speaking, QAHN closely monitors the status of buildings that are of significance to local heritage. Of particular concern to us are those communities whose institutions are at risk.

larger_wakeham_hall.2.jpgIn the case of the Wakeham Hall, we are extremely concerned that the City of Gaspé is needlessly and without regard to local sentiment considering the demolition of an important local heritage building -- a building that is both architecturally significant and unique in terms of its cultural importance for the local population, in particular the local English-speaking population, a community with very deep roots both in Gaspé and the region as a whole.

The petition signed by the people of the Wakeham speaks volumes about the significance that they place on this particular cultural landmark. They want to keep it. And they want their community to survive. What better way to help them survive than to enable this wonderful old hall to survive!

With the support of local donors, businesses and community partners like Heritage Gaspé / Heritage Gaspésie, that old church hall will live again as a living local history museum, cultural centre, and tourist attraction. Moreover, it will make not just Wakeham but all of Gaspé proud of its history. A Wakeham Hall living local history museum and cultural centre will not compete with existing institutions. It will complement them. In a world screaming for the attention of tourists, more attractions are always better than less. There is no risk to the city. Municipal funding is not being sought.

Why not show the vision that Gaspé has exhibited in other great projects. Give the Wakehal Hall project your blessing. Don’t take away the heart of this community. Show them that they matter in Gaspé. They will make you proud!


Matthew Farfan
Executive Director
Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN)