Saturday, November 23, 2013

Are there new attitudes in saving built heritage - Murray River residents demand old train station be destroyed!

     It amazes me when I read news articles about a local group in Murray River attempting to save their abandoned train station and most of the community crying out to tear it down!  
     I'm not picking on Murray River, however, its citizens and council have been in the news alot over the past few months.  The times and politics of this small rural community are no different than any other rural community on Prince Edward Island where many of the young people are leaving, property values are slack and traditions are changing from schools to churches, rinks to fire halls.
      Despite having had many of their old main street buildings demolished in recent years they still want to get rid of their 1904 station.  Ownership of the station belongs to the community and council seems willing to go along with the restoration, however, many vocal residents don't want a nickle spent on its restoration - they want it demolished.
      In this Guardian Newspaper video clip of this week's public meeting in Murray River, I'm struck by all the seniors in the crowd - most of whom are against the restoration project.  As I get older (now 52) I sometimes forget that these seniors aren't the seniors of my grandparents era.  It makes me wonder if this generation of seniors / baby-boomers are/will respect and cherish our Island's built heritage as earlier generations.  Are we seeing a generational change where it's, "out with old and in with the new?"  I don't know.
     I'm surprised to see the backlash from this small rural community where, one of  the major / visible community buildings is the the service station/convenience store, picturesquely located by the waters edge near the bridge.  The community has lost many of its old buildings in preparation for the Provincial Artefactory, however, when provincial politics changed, the project was cancelled leaving big gaps in the community's street scape.
     On a more positive note.  Not all is lost in Murray River - many, many Islanders and tourists flock to the Olde General Store to shop and experience this beautifully maintained historic building along with their good collection of crafts and gifts.
     When a local sawmill was destroyed by a vandal's fire the community rallied to raise funds and hold an old fashioned barn-raising to help out.
     Murray River is also a golf destination in Eagle's View Golf Course for Islanders and tourist to enjoy.
    Also, there's local folks, like my friends the Munn's, who care greatly about their heritage properties.  The family has owned this former Lowe home since WWII and have recently restored it, maintaining its original details, character and charm.
     In conclusion, and trying to make some sense of this whole thing, this is as much a story about community politics than saving an old building.   
     Enough said! 
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Greg has a nice walk through Murray River - see his blog post...

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