N.B. village raises thousands of dollars to bring piece of history home
A small New Brunswick village has raised a lot of money in a short period of time so it can bring an important piece of history back home after being overseas.
The figurehead is from the Prince Victor, a ship that was built in St. Martins, N.B. in 1870, and has sailed around the world 12 times.
The figurehead has been in England since the ship sank in a river in 1887 and was recently restored.
Eric Bartlett, the manager of the Quaco Museum, has just returned from Britain, where he finalized plans to buy and ship the figurehead back to St. Martins.
“The chances of it happening were just so remote at the beginning. It was really just a pipe dream,” says Bartlett.
“I was prepared for the worst, but I have to admit, I was absolutely shocked and overwhelmed. The figurehead is magnificent.”
Word is now spreading around the fishing and tourism village that the Prince Victor figurehead will be coming back home.
“I know Eric Bartlett was pretty impressed when he saw it in person. He had only seen pictures before,” says St. Martins resident Linda Moran.
“It’s going to be an asset. It was built here, the ship was built here, the figurehead was mounted here,” says Byard Moran, who owns a campground in the area.
Earlier this year, the village set out to raise $44,000 to buy the piece. Some money came from the government, but most came from private donations.
In addition to community generousity, organizers admit they have also benefitted from some good luck. Last month’s Brexit vote has significantly reduced the value of the British Pound and that in turn has made it cheaper to purchase the figurehead and ship it back home.
“The drop of the Pound, value of the Pound to the Canadian Dollar, has saved us thousands of dollars, literally, and that means we can do that much more to really give this a place of honour that the figurehead really deserves,” says Bartlett.
That place of honour will likely be the Quaco Museum, which is already a tribute to the village’s shipbuilding past. The figurehead is expected to return home later this summer.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron