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Parks Canada shutters historic site centre

The traditional Canada Day celebrations at the Battle of the Chateauguay National Historic Site in Tres-Saint-Sacrement did not take place this year. The interpretation centre did not open this spring, following a decision by Parks Canada to definitively close the building.

The site, which is managed by Parks Canada, commemorates the victory of Canadian troops over the invading American army on October 26, 1813. The interpretation centre was opened in 1978 and was designed to welcome up to 18,000 visitors annually, but over the years visitor numbers dropped significantly.

Information contained in a 2018 management plan for the site estimates the interpretation centre requires over $600,000 in recapitalization investments, notably in terms of the roof and the structure of the building. Daniel Beaudin, Parks Canada manager of historic sites in western Quebec, explains that declining visitorship and the expense to renovate the centre, as well as its high operating costs were contributing factors to the government’s decision regarding the site.

Beaudin confirms that while the centre is now closed to the public, the site – which includes the picnic area along the Chateauguay River, the obelisk monument, and the groomed trail of the battlefield – will remain accessible. “We are looking at a use that is quite different and based very much on the outdoors. We haven’t decided anything yet, but this is one of the possibilities,” he explained.

In the meantime, Parks Canada is in the process of taking down the exhibits in the interpretation centre. Beaudin says that while some of the panels and artifacts will be stored by the government agency, “We have also approached [the department of] National Defence to have many of the objects, most notably those belonging to Charles-Michel de Salaberry, stored at the armoury associated with the Royal 22nd Regiment.”

 

The interpretation centre at the Battle of the Chateauguay National Historic Site in Très Saint Sacrément is now closed to the public PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

As for the centre itself, Beaudin suggests Parks Canada is looking into whether there may be a regional interest in using the building. “We are in the first phase,” he says, noting discussions have been initiated with the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent and among elected officials to determine the best possible outcome for the future of the building.

Beaudin insists that Parks Canada will continue to commemorate the Battle of the Chateauguay at the site, and says they hope to make more content available online, including the information contained in the genealogical terminal located in the interpretation centre. There is also the possibility of providing remote presentations to children via Parks Canada’s networked schools program.

“This will allow us to talk about the Battle of the Chateauguay, and to make people aware of the importance of this event, but in a different way,” says Beaudin.

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