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Port Hope Simpson to restore J.O. Williams Company home as museum in 2018

This Port Hope Simpson home built by John Osborn Williams’ company in the 1930s is going to be restored as a museum.
This Port Hope Simpson home built by John Osborn Williams’ company in the 1930s is going to be restored as a museum. - Submitted

Mayor expects work to be finished by fall

PORT HOPE SIMPSON, NL – The Town of Port Hope Simpson is turning one of its oldest homes into a museum.

The Labrador town has received federal and provincial funding to restore one of the homes built as part of John Osborn Williams’ logging operation when the town was founded in the 1930s.

The home will be converted into a museum that will depict life during that period.

Renovations are intended to restore the home back to its original state from the 1930s.

The town will run the operation.

“We’re hoping it will be a boost to tourism in the area,” Mayor Margaret Burden told the Northern Pen.

The total cost of the restoration is nearly $300,000.

The provincial government has announced a contribution of $61,000 to the project. Burden says the federal government has contributed approximately $159,000.

The town will pay for the rest.

For the museum, the town is hoping to accumulate period artefacts – including items like clothing, tools, traps and guns – from locals to display.

“If people are satisfied to put their things there, they’ll be documented and marked so they won’t lose it or lose ownership,” Burden assured the public. “It will just be displayed.”

Along with the museum, Burden says the home will also include a small visitor centre, as well as a tearoom.

The town will also be looking for a curator to help set the museum up.

History

In 1934, John Osborn Williams was commissioned by the British monarchy to look for wood in southern Labrador.

There, his company was to cut pit props to use in coal mines in Wales.

Williams arrived in what would be named Port Hope Simpson that year.

According to Burden, as loggers and their families came to Port Hope Simpson from the island of Newfoundland and surrounding communities, the company decided it was necessary to build houses to accommodate them.

Of the number of houses that were built, two remain in Port Hope Simpson today.

She says the council decided to take ownership of one of the homes, now abandoned, to turn it into a museum.

Burden expects work to commence around June and hopes it will be completed by fall 2018.

She says the museum will probably open by spring next year.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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