Official ribbon cutting ceremony held for refurbished post office museum

The official unveiling of the renovated-upgraded Post Office Museum in Kagawong was held on Friday of last week. Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony was Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, Fran Nadon of FedNor, Billings Mayor Austin Hunt, Dianne Fraser, chair of the Billings Museum Board, Lisa Corbiere-Addison of the Ontario Trillium Foundation local grant review team,and Dave Mills, who did the renovation-upgrades to the building.

KAGAWONG—Members of the Billings Museum Board, local and provincial-federal politicians and community members gathered last Friday at the official unveiling of the renovation-upgrade of the Post Office Museum in Kagawong.

“When this project started this project, the post office museum was in bad state and need of a lot of TLC,” stated Old Mill Heritage Museum  Curator Rick Nelson at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We spent a lot of time fundraising and many people were involved and FedNor and the Ontario Trillium Foundation came through with great financial assistance. We appreciate all the municipality did in contributing to this project.”

“Of course Dave Mills carried out the renovation and upgrade work and the beautiful building we have in front of us here today is the fruit of his labours,” said Mr. Nelson. “When the Main Street Café renovations were completed by Dave, I knew we had our guy for this project.” Mr. Nelson pointed out that over $30,000 in funding was provided through FedNor and Trillium for the project which included a new roof and much more.

Dianne Fraser, chair of the Billings Museum Board said, “on behalf of the Billings Museum Board, I would like to say how pleased we are to see everyone here today on this happy occasion and a special welcome to the descendants of the Bock family.”

“This log building was built by Benjamin Bock about 1880,” said Ms. Fraser. “The original location was on Monument Road not far from Spring Bay. Over the years, it served as a post office but also as a home for Benjamin and Mary Bock and their family.”

In 1897, the building became a post office and Benjamin Bock served as postmaster from August 1, 1897 until February 2, 1903. The post office was originally called Cavemount but was renamed Spring Bay Post office on November 1, 1897, explained Ms. Fraser.

“By 1990, the log building was owned by Benjamin Bock’s great grandson Harold Tracey,” said Ms. Fraser. “He and his wife Mary Jo donated the building to the Kagawong Historical Society. Volunteers disassembled it and relocated it to the village of Kagawong at a location behind the Chocolate Works. In the summer of 2008, it was moved to its present location and became part of the old Mill Heritage Centre.”

Ms. Fraser continued, “the Billings Museum Board would like to acknowledge and thank its predecessor the Kagawong Historical Society for all of the work they accomplished in preserving Billings township and Manitoulin history. After the ceremony, please take time to visit our Post Office Museum as we are extremely proud of the restoration that has taken place.”

“I’m glad everyone is here today to see this post office after its refurbishing,” said Billings Mayor  Austin Hunt, noting the extensive history building has had over the years.   

Lisa Corbiere-Addison said, “good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am a volunteer with Ontario Trillium Foundation’s local Grant Review Team. I am pleased to have  chance to say a few words on OTF’s behalf.”

“I would like to congratulate the township of Billings on receiving a $16,000 Ontario 150 Community Capital grant from the government of Ontario,” said Ms. Corbiere-Addison. “The Ontario 150 Community Capital Program supports capital projects that are  aligned to the Ontario Trillium Foundation Investment Strategy. Since your request for funding was to repair and preserve the post office museum, the government of Ontario could see the benefit in upgrading and reinforcing the building’s interior and exterior as well as improving its wheelchair accessibility. The great thing about this renovation is that it will ensure the continuation of welcoming some 4,000 visitors and locals yearly,” added Ms. Corbiere-Addison.

“This initiative will also provide a spin-off effect as visitors are more likely to visit other parts of the community, which in return, supports the local economy,” said Ms. Corbiere-Addison, who presented an Ontario 150 plaque to mayor Austin Hunt.

Fran Nadon, on behalf of FedNor, congratulated the  township of Billings on its efforts to have the post office museum refurbished, and all those who had a part in the project. “Good work. This is a great project.”

“I love seeing Lisa  and Fran at events like this because it means things are being created and built,”  stated Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin. He said by looking at the workmanship of the building and its history it provides a sense of where and what the community is all about.

“It is also a reflection of the leadership and the community making this type of historic building a priority,” said Mr. Mantha. “It is a gem,” he said.