The new Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Center is like stepping back in time.
Craig Goudie’s murals of High Street in the former town of Grand Falls and Main Street in the former town of Windsor greet you on either side of the entrance, while old photos of the construction industry wood and factory are directly in front of you.
When a community has a history as rich as that of Grand Falls-Windsor, it is important to preserve it, share it and pass it on to future generations.
The Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society (GFWHS), a nonprofit community group with a public museum and archives, does just that. And now that it has a new home, the organization can do so much more.
The GFWHS was established in 1997 and incorporated in 1998. The registered charity’s mandate includes both tangible and intangible cultural heritage related to the history of Grand Falls-Windsor.
With their commitment to making their collection available to the public for research and display, the grand opening of the new heritage center is very welcoming.
“Since the company was founded…we’ve been trying to have a place to call home,” says Lucien Forbes, president of the GFWHS.
And he now has a new home at 10 Mill Rd., located on the site of a century-old paper mill, in the former Abitibi Price training center.
“We have a house,” says Forbes. “We have the building; we have a dedicated group…everyone is working hard to open it.
The group wants to tell the story of the mill and two ancient towns that have become one.
“We have so much to show, the main one being the AND Company factory, the industrial town of Grand Falls and Newfoundland’s first incorporated town, Windsor,” says Forbes. “There was the mill town and the private town and one wouldn’t exist without the other. Then two towns come together, and the mill goes, and here we are again a flourishing town.
This story is important to share with younger generations, Forbes says, which is why they are planning school tours.
“That’s one of our main goals,” he says. “It’s the only way to pass on our heritage. If people are not interested in it, it will leave tomorrow. But they will be (interested), especially the way it (is) set up now digitized.
They are working on digitizing old newspapers, photos and information from advertisers to have a searchable database and access to on-site computers.
“They’ll be really excited about the artifacts we have here and every aspect,” he says, adding that there’s a lot of material and there’s a plan to rotate the displays.
“We have a, I call, a real factory artifact and that’s the factory whistle. We’ll blow that for special occasions.
Visitor information services will be provided by the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor.
“We had generous help from the community,” says Forbes, who helped them prepare for the grand opening scheduled for June 11. “One of the things that happened was River Gold. River Gold allowed us to do the work on the building. It’s also good for the community because the money stays in the community.
Things are happening visibly and now they can open up to the public. The grand opening will take place on June 11, starting at 10:30 a.m. at City Hall and will parade to the new GFWHS home.
The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. in front of their building. There will be a BBQ, with the help of volunteers from Oddfellows Lodge and Mesonic Lodge, the Town Band and others will provide entertainment and a ribbon cutting by some former GFWHS executive members. Of course, attendees can also visit the center, see the displays and drop suggestions in their suggestion box.
“We look forward to what the suggestions are,” Forbes said.
There are also many future projects, so stay tuned.
For more information, visit the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Center Facebook page, call the center at 709-489-6903 or email [email protected]