By RYAN KING
ROSE BLANCHE – HARBOUR LE COU — The Rose Blanche Lighthouse is making arrangements to repair the roof of its Fishermen’s Museum building. Given the unique artifacts found under that roof, getting the funds to fix it is important to not only the volunteer organization, Rose Blanche Lighthouse Inc., but also to area residents.
The original four-acre site was built by the Southwest Coast Development Association from 1996 to 1999. The Rose Blanche Lighthouse board was then incorporated and took over managing the site. With the organization from its outset, Maxine Edwards is the current president and has been working alongside Phyllis Horwood, who is also an original member.
The Fishermen’s Museum was built shortly after the board’s incorporation in the early 2000s, with an upper level added around 2008. The older section has begun showing its age.
“We weren’t open last year, so everything deteriorated more over that year when nothing was done. We put out a call for quotes, so now we’re trying to get funding to do that roof,” explained Horwood.
Many are familiar with the lighthouse and its heritage artifacts, but tucked away behind the craft store are unique offerings only found in the Fishermen’s Museum.
“We had a visitor last year who said, ‘That museum down there is fantastic. Why don’t you promote that more?’ We’re trying to do our best. It’s all included with the admission, but you kind of have to remind people to go down there,’” said Horwood.
One can spend hours exploring all of the history and exhibits at the site, but the museum is often overlooked.
“Sometimes when I make a comment now, I’ll call it the ‘four acre site’. That’s about what it is. You could come down and spend about two hours, easily,” said Horwood.
Most of the items in the museum have been provided by people who reside within the community.
“It preserves the history of the community, because a lot of the artifacts that are in there have been donated by locals. So, they know that their prized possessions are safe over there. Most of it is inside locked cases – anything of great value. And they get a kick out of the books that are there, like the ‘Dick and Jane’ books, and the old Grade 4 geography book, ‘Bunga,’” noted Horwood.
The staffing at the site is currently less than it has been in previous years, though there are still people who can offer a guided tour to visitors. However, when the students leave in August, the site may have to cut back hours to compensate for the expenses.
Guided by Edwards and Horwood, the private tour began in the newer upper level, which contained the day-to-day items found in a historical Newfoundland home. Items on display included a clothes washer stand, complete with a washing board and hand turned wringer, donated by Barry Spicer. Nearby were antique furnishings, including an end table, vases, drawers, crib, rocking chair, and a dining table, which had the paint removed to show the craftsmanship underneath.
Also on display was a beautiful bedroom set donated by Edna Hardy. Next to the iron bed frame was a locked chest with an interesting story attached, subsequently related by Edwards.
A psychic once visited the museum and felt drawn to the chest. He insisted there was something inside, and while he was in the room plate-ware rattled on the table. When they opened the chest it contained an old news article that the staff were previously unaware of.
There are also numerous display cases containing a variety of items, like the old school books. There are wall displays containing dishware and other home essentials, like a kerosene iron and an antique radio.
There are also paintings on display, including those painted by local artists. The older part of the museum focuses on the history of the fishery in the area.
On display were several model boats that would have sailed along local shores. The tools of the trade that are displayed include a sword fishing spear, tools for making lobster pots, bailers, a variety of fishing hooks, knives, buoys, and a tool for banding lobsters, just to name a few.
Outside the roof damage to the lower part of the museum is quite evident. Shingles are coming loose, and it’s not difficult to understand the board’s concern about a water leak damaging an irreplaceable artifact. Anyone looking to lend support can sign up a tour at the craft shop.