And somewhere, the late Peter Ratcliffe might have been smiling.
“He’d be very pleased,” said his widow Debbie Ratcliffe on Saturday, speaking of her late husband, who died in May after years of dedicating time and effort to the Merigomish Area Recreation and Social Association (MARSA).
“I feel his spirit here for sure. He did a lot of the actual physical work here.”
Her husband oversaw the organization that got things moving back in 2007, when the community realized there was a lack of infrastructure in the Merigomish area and decided to do something about it.
“He was our president – he kicked our pants and kept us going,” said Kelly MacVicar, who is also a part of MARSA.
The group obtained funding from the province of Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Municipality of Pictou County.
The people in the area contributed as well, not just in spirit and labour but financially, raising more cash to turn the old Merigomish schoolhouse – which was built in the 1890s but gutted and essentially restored in the past few years – into a community centre.
”The community came up with another $114,000 in order to get the ACOA grant,” said MacVicar.
On Saturday from 2-5 p.m., despite heavy rain at times, there was a barbecue, live music provided by Jim Dorie, Doris Mason and Dave MacIsaac – among others – while later Saturday there was more live music and the official opening with a tasteful tribute to the late Peter Ratcliffe planned.
”I’m very happy that this is happening,” said Debbie Ratcliffe. “It was a long time coming and it’s a celebration of what this community is.”