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St. Gabriel's Hall


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Some 107 years ago, folks from all walks of life and denominations headed into the forest to a place called Garnish Pond to cut the timber which would later be milled into the lumber to build St. Gabriel's Hall. It was aptly named because the first event to take place occurred on the feast day of St. Gabriel. Over the years, St. Gabriel's Hall became the event center for the Town of Marystown and the whole of the Burin Peninsula region. It played a massive part in the lives of the people who lived in town. Its uses were wide and varied: school, church, political rallies, fairs and exhibitions, festivals, weddings, youth gatherings, seniors' gatherings and multicultural events. Local, national, and international performers and personalities graced our stage. To name a few: Joseph R. Smallwood, Isla Grant, Johnny McEvoy, Jimmy Carton, David Francey, Masterless Men, Shannyganook, and the list goes on.

The years took a toll on this beautiful building, and in the early 2000s, the owners of the building, the RC Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, allowed it to close, and subsequently turned off the heat. I might add that the rightful owners of this building are the people of the community. Several renovations had previously been made to the building, including removing the clock tower and replacing the original windows with vinyl ones. In 2006, a dedicated group of volunteers took on operations of the Hall, and in 2011, negotiated a long-term lease agreement with the Episcopal Corporation, extending to 2035. In this process, the volunteers set out to restore the Hall to its original state. The restoration was completed over a ten-year period, with the building reopened as a value community center for the entire area. It now features state-of- the-art amenities, including an elevator, theatre sound and lighting, theatre seating, a new stage, a café, a music school, and our beloved Veterans' Memorial Room. It is a community center for all.

Because of turmoil in the catholic church, specifically the RC Episcopal Corporation of St. John's (supposed owners of the building), the Hall has now been named in the assets of a bankruptcy process, and is set to be sold to satisfy the debts. Our volunteer committee has put much blood, sweat, tears, and money into restoration of this beautiful building, and we do not wish to see this significant piece of community history disappear. Undoubtedly, there are thousands of expatriate Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who would wish to see our pieces of history remain.

Throughout our restoration efforts we have had the building declared a Municipal Heritage Building, acknowledged as part of Canada's Historic Places (a Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Collaboration), and by Heritage NL. We have also won the prestigious Manning Award from the Historic Sites Association of NL for our restoration efforts.

It appears our only option to retain ownership is to buy the building back as part of the Episcopal Corporation's bankruptcy process. As a true Newfoundlander, I call on all my fellow Newfoundlanders and those who love to visit with us to donate to our cause, so that we have a place to meet, welcome, enjoy, entertain, and show you our little piece of Newfoundland history.