MANSFIELD – The George Bryson Cultural House Association was left without administrators following the mass resignation of the Board after their monthly meeting, May 22. According to the former Board, which was comprised of Nicole Calvé (President), Ruth Hearty, Danielle Belec, Suzanne Dazé, and Benoit Paré, the resignation was in response to a lack of action from Mansfield council regarding necessary improvements and renovations to the building, located along Highway 148.
“We have been waiting since March 31 for the municipality’s official position on the Board’s
development plan, which was presented to Council February 25,” said the Board in a press release. The development plan included reclaiming two large areas in the house – currently being used by the municipal library and the Pontiac Genealogy Society – to allow the entire building to be converted into a
“cultural house” which would help generate funds from the building. “We
proposed moving the Genealogy Society to the Dagenais House and the library elsewhere, perhaps combined with another library. We also asked that a part-time employee be hired to relieve volunteers from some work,” explained Calvé, noting that volunteers dedicated about 1,600 hours per year to manage the house.
More important are the needed repairs to the building. “The main thing that sparked our resignation was the condition of the house. The roof has been leaking for two years, more so since January when water leaked into the dining room. As
volunteers, we found funds to hire an architect to draw up some designs and put the first steps in place. But, because we cannot do repairs on something we don’t own, we needed the municipality to hire someone to do the work. Nothing has been done on their part even though the call for tenders is ready to go,” explained Calvé.
“It is very discouraging since we wanted to open the restaurant and the boutique this summer but it’s not possible because of the state of the house,” she continued, noting that the final blow was when the Board learned the municipality had not yet provided the necessary information to the architect to move forward with the roof repair work.
According to Calvé, the Board approached various funding
partners and contacted architects and landscapers for work to begin as quickly as possible on the
much-needed renovations. The Association has raised close to $100,000 in grants since 2010 to build a commercial kitchen, finance a positioning study conducted by museologist Dominique Dufour in 2014, produce the landscape design plan, and address the urgent roof issue. “We hired professionals to make plans for both the house and its grounds including planting trees, gardens, etc. We presented them to the municipality but didn’t receive any comments about whether it was feasible, when it could be feasible, etc.,” added Calvé.
As of now, the daily operation and management of the Bryson House is the responsibility of the municipality of Mansfield. The Board is hoping their resignation will encourage the community to speak to council members about what they would like to see done with the building and to ask what is happening at the location. “It will either force them (the municipality) to do something about it, or let someone else do something about it,” added Calvé. “If they want the Board back, they will have to sit down with us, have a discussion,
and make a commitment,” she
The Bryson House was identified by Tourism Quebec as an important stop on the Outaouais’ future tourist route ‘Les chemins d’eau.’ “I hope the issue will be resolved but they have to take into consideration the costs and what the municipality can afford,” said Mansfield Mayor, Kathy Belec at the Council of Mayors meeting, May 26. As of
press time, the municipality of Mansfield had not responded to the Journal’s request for further
comments or information.