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Exterior of Restigouche Regional Museum

OUR HISTORY

Discover the Rich Heritage of Restigouche County.

 

The Restigouche Regional Museum stands as a testament to the vibrant tapestry of history that weaves together the diverse cultures and communities of Restigouche County. Established in 1967, the museum has been dedicated to recreating the captivating journey of our region, embracing the contributions of the Mi'kmaq First Nations, Acadians, French, Scottish, British, Irish, and many others who found their home here.

From Past to Present: Embracing Change

  • 1962: The Chaleur Area Research Group is founded by Jack MacDonald and Florine Hubert, with the mission to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the Chaleur area.

  • 1967: After years of research and collecting artifacts related to the region's history, Jack MacDonald opens "Jack's Museum" in the basement of the new Dalhousie Centennial Library. This marks the area's first introduction to a real museum, attracting visitors of all ages.

  • 1975: With the passing of Jack MacDonald, the Chaleur Area Historical Society takes up the responsibility to continue his dream of preserving local history.

  • 1981: The provincial government officially recognizes the museum as the Restigouche Regional Museum, granting it regional status for the area. This recognition was as a result of negotiations between the Dalhousie town council, the Chaleur Area Historical Society, and government representatives.

  • 1983: On April 30th, the Restigouche Regional Museum moves the location at the former liquor store on the corner of George and Adelaide Streets in Dalhousie. This facility had been vacated and was leased to the town of Dalhousie to be used as the museum.

  • 1990s: The museum expands its exhibits and offers an educational and interpretive experience to visitors.

Over the years, the museum's collection has grown, leading to storage space constraints. Some artifacts are kept in a small building on an adjacent property, which poses security risks. From 2003 to 2009, the museum underwent a major exhibition renewal process, regaining its position as one of the province's more sophisticated museums.

Building a New Legacy: Moving to the Courthouse and Jail

2014-15: The idea to move the Restigouche Regional Museum to the courthouse and jail has been in the planning stages for a number of years, but the project only officially began in the spring of 2015 when the town of Dalhousie purchased the buildings.

The Restigouche County jail and courthouse have been involved in the legal history of the province and have been host to several high-profile cases and prisoners. It was the site of the last hanging in the province, which occurred at the jail on December 11 th 1957. The courthouse also functioned as the seat of county government until 1967 and only stopped being used entirely in 2006. The jail was closed in 2011.

From the time of purchase until the fall of 2015, efforts were made to clear the buildings of furniture and equipment that had been left behind following the closure of the jail and courthouse, and some initial construction was started. This includes refinishing the floors, demolishing or building walls where appropriate to create a specific floor plan for the museum, repainting, constructing exhibitions, and building spaces to house the collection.

There are currently plans to retrofit the buildings with geothermal heating, and, later, solar lighting to make operations more economical and environmentally friendly. Another major goal of the project is to make the building more accessible. The town of Dalhousie received a grant from the Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture, which covered part of the initial phase of renovations.

The structures are the dominant features of what could be considered the heritage or historic centre of the town of Dalhousie. They are bounded by several notable features of independent heritage and cultural value, including the Hamilton Monument (1851), Rotary Memorial Park (renamed in 1978 but has existed as a town square since 1831), St. Mary’s Anglican Church (1869), and the former Royal Bank building (1931), which are all on the municipal register of historic buildings. The Town Hall (1939), which is also adjacent, is a provincial historic site.

This move has allowed us to expand our programming, offer enhanced exhibits, and provide greater access to our archival collections.

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