Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Work to stabilize Leard’s Grist Mill to begin mid-December

     Thanks to Melissa Heald for the article in West Prince Graphic below!!  
Thanks too to Eric McCarthy of the Journal Pioneer for the recent coverage.
President of the Canadian Potato Museum, left, and Carter Jeffery, right, accept a donation of $10,000 from site manager of Engie Operations Canada Inc: West Cape & Norway Wind Farms Robbie Thibodeau for the stabilization project at LEard’s Mill.  Mr. Jeffery is leading the effort to save the mill in its current location.  Work to save the last grist mill on the Island is scheduked to begin in mid-December.   Melissa Heald Photo.
The future of the Leard’s Grist Mill in Coleman is looking a little brighter now work to stabilize the 128-year-old building is scheduled to go ahead.
          “It’s not in great condition,” said Carter Jeffery, the Island draftsman who started a campaign to save the mill.
          The Canadian Potato Museum, who is responsible for the mill, has hired PD Construction of North Rustico to do the work which is scheduled to begin mid-December.
          The stabilization of the mill will consist of placing a couple of large I-beams beneath the second floor and then air bags will be used to raise the mill. The ground floor will be rebuilt before the mill is set back down on 22 new cement piers.
          Before Mr Jeffery began to lead the effort to see the mill saved and preserved at its current location, the museum had been planning tearing down the building, but not before removing the equipment inside to set up a display at the O’Leary museum.
          But Mr Jeffery said the mill needs to be restored in its original spot and is worth saving as the last of the 118 grist mills that at one time could be found throughout Prince Edward Island.
          While the ultimate goal would be to have a functioning mill again, at least now the stabilization will buy some time for those involved to decide what the next step in the process should be to restore the mill to its former self. A feasibility study that will be done over the next few months could help in deciding what that direction could look like and help in what decisions need to be made moving forward.
          But the work to stabilize the mill couldn’t have waited for fear that it could collapse into the nearby river, said Mr Jeffery.
          The cost of the project is over $100,000 and all the money raised came from private donations, including a $50,000 anonymous contribution. A $10,000 donation from Engie Operations Canada Inc, owners of West Cape and Norway Wind farms, is the largest corporate donation to date the project has received.
          Site manager of Engie Operations Canada Inc: West Cape & Norway Wind Farms Robbie Thibodeau said the national company looks for special projects to support and thought the restoration was a great cause.
          The stabilization of the mill is only part of what will probably be a multiple phase project and could take up to five years before the mill is fully restored, said President of the Canadian Potato Museum Bill MacKendrick.
          Mr MacKendrick said even if the museum had gone with its original plan to remove the artifacts inside in order to preserve them, the mill would have still required stabilizing the structure.
          “Some of the equipment is almost part of the stability of it, the way it’s attached in there,” said Mr MacKendrick of the machinery inside.
          But fundraising to save the mill has been quite successful thanks to businesses like Mr Thibodeau, said Mr MacKendrick.
          “What we’re finding out is the legacy that the mill has built. So many people say I went there with my Dad on a Saturday morning. There’s a community bond for sure,” said Mr MacKendrick, “We’re happy that we’re able to preserve it at its original site.”
          In addition, Mr MacKendrick said stabilizing the building could help in securing government funding for future phases of the restoration project.

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