Hal Theriault and Stacey Doucette are heading the Electric City Research Centre and corresponding project to create and open an interpretive centre featuring the site’s history.
The project has already received attention from the province’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Department member Marcel McKeough has pledged support to the pair’s plans.
“That support has meant a great deal to us,” said Doucette.
“It means they see our vision and think it really will work.”
Community support needed
Support from the government is not the only kind of support needed, however.
Doucette and Theriault are adamant that the project will succeed only with the help and support of its community.
“We need people to get on board and get involved with this,” said Doucette.
The research centre currently houses artefacts donated by the Stehelin family – who owned the original New France site and land – as well as other Weymouth residents, while others are currently on display at Sissiboo Landing.
Donations of tangible objects are not the only way people can aid in the research.
“Stories are just as valuable to us,” said Theriault.
“Hearing about memories and experiences people had at the site, whether during its years of operation or after, is valuable too.”
Keeping the story alive
As the project grows in support, building the interpretive centre will become its biggest priority.
Tourism essentials and heritage interpreting courses will be offered as training for those interested in expanding their skills and working at the centre, according to Theriault.
They will happen towards the end of this December. Funding is being arranged so they will be low-cost.
“The idea is that people who’ve taken this course will then be eligible to work at the centre,” said Theriault.
“We’re looking to train interpreters to be inspiring and captivating to create a warm atmosphere where people can learn about the Electric City.”
Another layer of vision
Since government funding requires detailed project plans, Doucette and Theriault have planned even further.
Doucette envisions a life-sized village replica of 5-6 buildings, to start, using repaired buildings from around Weymouth.
Getting people involved in this will help the project and will also help the town in turn, he says.
“Weymouth is dying. Everyone knows it. I see this as a way to bring tourism, jobs and industry back here,” said Doucette.
In the mean time, the two men want to see as many people as possible visit the research centre.
"People are always and will always be welcome," said Theriault.
Public meetings are also held for anyone interested in the particulars of project planning. For information on upcoming meetings, see the research centre's Facebook page.