The Friends of Pugwash Library
This brief history revolves around a dedicated group of individuals who shared a vision for a new library in the village of Pugwash. Their passion, energy and commitment contributed to bringing this dream to reality.
The Old Library Was in a Train Station
Built in 1892, the train station is a classic one and a half storey red-brick building that housed the Pugwash Library for decades. Despite the buildings charm it was not designed to be used as a library, or community centre and was very limited in its capacity for these reasons.
It Had Many Limitations
More than twenty years prior to the construction of the new Pugwash library, it happened that Elaine Cook was signing up to join the book club. In a casual conversation with the assistant librarian, Helen Feely, the limitations of the old building came up. With a capacity for just ten members it was a tight squeeze for the book club to meet. Elaine and Helen also discussed the inadequate space in the children’s area that could only accommodate a handful of children, with few activities to engage them.
At that same time Carolyn Thompson arrived, accompanied by her sister in a wheelchair. Maneuvering the wheelchair into the building was a difficult task, and it highlighted the challenges faced by people with disabilities and physical impairments entering the library. The evidence was clear – the old building had many limitations and accessibility issues. It was time for something to be done.
Helen encouraged Elaine to start a committee of volunteers and to call them the Friends of the Pugwash Library. Remarkably it is through this happenstance conversation, many years ago, that a dedicated group of individuals embarked on a mission to build a new library for the Village of Pugwash.
A Committee Was Formed
The first gathering took place on May 7, 2007, at the Village Commission. Among those present were Elaine Cook, Paolo Brenciaglia, Sue McFarlane, Jaclyn Short, Carolyn Thomson, Vivian Godfree, and Kathy Langille. This dedicated group wasted no time in appointing their officers, with Elaine Cook as the Chairperson, Paolo Brenciaglia as Vice-Chair, Vivian Godfree as Secretary, Sue McFarlane as Treasurer, Carolyn Thomson as Planner, and Paolo Brenciaglia taking on the role of Publicity.
Throughout the year 2007, the committee held twelve meetings and welcomed several new members, including Karen Iler, Janet Jamieson, Jean Tibbets, Sarah Mattinson, Helen Matheson, Norene Smiley, Thelma Colbourne, Randy Thompson, Mary Hartling, and Louise Hillhouse. The passion for the library’s cause was not limited to their own group; they received encouraging news from Frances Newman, who reported that the “Pugwash Library Building Fund” held by the Cumberland Regional Library was growing.
Community Support for Events and the Campaign Was Abundant
Throughout the years the Friends of the Pugwash Library Committee collaborated with various organizations and community members earning generous donations and pledges towards the library project.
The committee was successful in gaining support from the community and local businesses. The Coop agreed to rebate to the library building fund when customers brought their own grocery bags. The KGB pledged to donate funds from refundables, and the Ladies Day Golf event agreed to contribute proceeds from their 2008 event.
Recognizing the importance of community involvement, Carolyn Thomson prepared a report titled “Pugwash Library Campaign,” outlining the urgent need for a new library. Elaine and Frances Newman presented this report to the Village Commission on September 17, 2007.
As the calendar turned to 2008, the Friends of the Pugwash Library Committee saw Beth Clinton assume the role of chief librarian. Their ranks were further strengthened by new members Sara MacRae and Catherine Bussiere.
The committee hosted various book readings and events, including a presentation by Marc de Villiers in May, with supper provided by “The Hidden Jewel.” They held a raffle for a painting donated by Heber Colbourne at Pugwash Harbourfest. They organized a “Words and Music” event, featuring Sue Goyette, Bill Langstroth, and the FunTones. In February, they hosted “Words Unleashed,” which included a silent auction and readings from classic literature, such as “Catcher in the Rye.”
The year 2009 proved to be another successful one for the Friends of the Pugwash Library Committee. They organized a memorable event called “Books That Changed Lives”, featuring a silent auction and readings from notable individuals within the community. This event was followed by “Words and Music” gathering featuring Bruce Nunn, Eric Fresia, and the Offspring. The community gathered and donations were made.
The committee’s dedication and hard work were evident in the growing bank account funds.
In 2010, the Friends of the Pugwash Library welcomed new member, Phyllis O’Connell, and Virginia Redden took on the role of treasurer. They continued their fundraising endeavors with events like the “IncrEdible” Community Dinner in March, jointly organized with the Farmers Market, and “Mums the Word” in May, featuring readings and a silent auction. An article in the Oxford Journal on brought more support and awareness to the cause.
In the transformative year of 2012, a meeting took place to establish the Library Action Team. Together, David Rickard, Norene Smiley, Elaine Cook, Ron Robinson, Al Gillis, Daryl Fawcett, Emily Lutz, Rod Benjamin, and George Anderson gathered with a common purpose – to shape the future of the library in Pugwash.
As the meeting progressed, the topic of design emerged as a key focal point. Discussions centered around the vision for a modern and welcoming library that would cater to the diverse needs of the community. Ideas flowed freely, and a new chapter began.
The Commitment of Volunteers Was Remarkable
Elaine Graham-Cook, Vivian Godfree, Norene Smiley, Helen Matheson, Eleanor Conrad, Thelma Colbourne, Karen Iler, Judy Rickard, Sara Mattinson, Janet Jamieson, Mary Jamieson, Bernadette Carini, Carolyn Thompson, Pat Briggins, Violet Williams, Rod and Judy Benjamin, Sara MacRae, Catherine Bussiere, Virginia Redden, Ron McNutt, Phyllis O’Connell*, Sue MacFarland*, Paolo Brenciaglia*, Lillian Ripley* (*deceased)
These are names taken from FoPL meetings, but they were not the only volunteers – sweet makers, coffee and tea makers, people to set up and clean up before and after an event, ticket sellers, speakers, local readers, and many other ways. Businesses that donated goods and their time to sell tickets, printing, and on it goes. There is no end to the volunteers that saw the need of a new library in Pugwash and worked towards that end.