Grand opening held for new library

Duane Hicks

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday morning to celebrate a moment 15 years in the making—the grand opening of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre.
“With today’s official opening, we mark on one hand the end of a project that took 15 years to complete from start to finish. And on the other hand, we mark the beginning for a new facility that will open the doors to the world for everyone, through books, technology, and a rich, ongoing menu of offerings,” said Mark Kowalchuk, chair of the “Building for the Future” fundraising campaign as well as the grand opening committee.
“What we have built, as many have said, is beyond a traditional library,” echoed library board chair Joyce Cunningham.
“It’s also a technology centre,” she stressed. “More importantly, the dream has never been just to build bricks and mortar.
“Today is not a mere celebration about a building or the technology within it. It’s about having community access to possibilities that we have only started to explore,” Cunningham added.
“Let’s all explore together.”
The lineup of speakers also included chief librarian Margaret Sedgwick, Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis, Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry rep Christine Hansen, FedNor rep Kathryn Duchnicky, Ministry of Tourism and Culture rep Nancy Tulloch, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Howard Hampton, Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty, and Senior Fellow Wendy Newman of the University of Toronto.
The ceremony also included a rendition of “O Canada” by the Robert Moore festival choir (directed by Natalie Von Niebelshultz), which was followed by a donation of $150 from Robert Moore School for the library to buy a tree from Daryl’s Custom Landscapes.
Elder Bessie Mainville blessed the opening ceremonies while Capt. Angel Sandoval of the Fort Frances Salvation Army recited a prayer.
After all the speeches, the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place.
Those taking part included Ruth Caldwell, Jean Boileau, and Davetta Shepard of the Friends of the Library, Hampton, Rafferty, Mayor Avis, Kowalchuk, Cunningham, Sedgwick, Tulloch, and library patrons Mitchell Riordon and Hubert Medhurst (the latter of whom is the library’s oldest patron at 102 years of age).
After the ribbon cutting, Cunningham declared the new library and technology centre open, after which members of the Rainy Lake Highlanders piped dignitaries and the public alike into the new facility.
Yesterday evening, the Borderland Community Orchestra performed from 7-8 p.m., after which time the library was closed for a wine-and-cheese reception.
The grand opening week celebration continues today with a showcase of what the technology centre can do for new and existing businesses (with University of Toronto professor Dr. Kelly Lyons and Newman, along with Judy Sander of the NWO Innovation Centre) from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., a Chamber of Commerce mix-and-mingle (5-7 p.m.), and a family concert with Al Simmons (6-7 p.m.)
Tomorrow, local elementary schools will tour the facility from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. while Thursday is “Kids’ Day,” when pre-schoolers and parents will be have a chance to participate in stations based on the “Alice in Wonderland” theme.
This will run from 10-11:30 a.m.
Friday will see a “Mad Hatter Tea Party” for seniors, along with games and refreshments, from 2-4 p.m.
Then from 6-9 p.m., teens are encouraged to come by, “get carded,” and enjoy pizza and games.