It took over 10 years of planning, but on September 15 the Huntingdon County Hospital (HCH) Foundation held a celebration to officially open its new park. The park is connected to the Huntingdon residential and long-term care centre (CHSLD) building and will be open to residents of the centre and their families.
At the inauguration ceremony, a crowd of around 60 people chatted in groups and explored the green space, taking note of the spectacular piece of stained-glass art that stood gleaming in the center of the park. The piece was created by Valleyfield artist Denis Poirier and donated to the centre by his widow, Brigitte Poirier, who is a retired nurse. She worked at the centre as did her sister, who was also in attendance, along with the artist’s brother.
The park occupies a space where an old house once stood. It was purchased by the Foundation some years ago; eventually it was demolished, leaving only the weathered stone foundation that now encompasses the patio area. Small gardens are interspersed throughout the park, and there are wooden garden containers that are at exactly the right height for wheelchair users to plant vegetables or flowers. A huge pergola stands at the head of the space to give residents some shelter from the sun.
Guests at the event were welcomed by Claude Ménard, the HCH Foundation president, who thanked the many people who were instrumental in the creation of the park. He also thanked everyone for their generosity and support of the project. Huntingdon mayor André Brunette stepped up to speak; he welcomed everyone, and conveyed the hope that the Foundation will continue its great work. Louise Lebrun, prefect of the MRC du Haut-Saint Laurent, also addressed the crowd. She enthusiastically congratulated the Foundation for its passion and hard work but also reflected on the beauty of the park and its lovely view of the Chateauguay River. Frédéric Roiné, the environmental services manager at the Huntingdon CHSLD, also thanked those present for coming.
Others in attendance included a representative for MNA Carole Mallette; Carolyn Cameron, the former mayor of Hinchinbrooke; Stéphane Billette, a former Liberal MP; and Heather L’Heureux from the Monteregie-Ouest Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSMO).
As guests gathered for photos, Shirley Cavanagh along with her mother Esther Cavanagh presented Foundation president Ménard with $300 from the Genie in a Bottle campaign.
The cost of the park project was $365,000. Of that, the HCH Foundation raised $200,000. The remaining sum was contributed by the provincial government.
After the speeches, the P.A. system was tuned to music and, fittingly, the strains of the song What a Wonderful World played over the new park.