Historic Blockhouse Nears Completion

 

By Joel Charron

Volunteers and funding partners were given a sneak peak at the historic Bob-lo Island blockhouse to celebrate its near completion.

After seeing the blockhouse crumble before their eyes, a group led by local historian Bill Brundage and engineer Dr. Norm Becker began work on the historic building last November.

Nearly nine months later, the work is near completion with cedar shake roof to be added with caulking and sealing of the blockhouse to occur in roughly one year   when the wood settles.

To protect the historic building from the elements, the blockhouse has been raised approximately 2 ½ feet, but still remains in its original position.

“We’re very proud of the work of all our volunteers,” said Becker.

 

Bill Bundage (right) and Dr. Norm Becker discuss the several artifacts on the site with visitors.

Becker said that most of the fundraising targets have been met, however they have not received the $75,000 they thought they would receive from the federal government. To make up for that short fall, the Bois Blanc Homeowners Association set up an account at the United Communities Credit Union.

Becker mentioned that residents appreciate the restoration of the blockhouse.

While touring Bob-lo Island, a van filled with senior citizens expressed their gratitude for the restoration for future generations.

Brundage helped recover and search for artifacts during the re-construction of the blockhouse.

Brundage noted everything from utensils, broken dishes, slate pencils, hat badges, buttons and nails were amongst the findings, as was an old anchor from a former vessel that would have transported supplies from Bob-Lo Island to the mainland.

“I’m just amazed at the amount of artifacts we were able to recover,” said Becker.

Brundage said that Fort Malden National Historic Site helped in identifying some of the artifacts. Brundage added the artifacts will eventually be put on display in a locked cabinet inside the blockhouse.

Brundage was thrilled the blockhouse could be restored considering the state it was in.

“It’s great. I never thought I’d see it happen,” said Brundage. “If it weren’t for Norm Becker, it wouldn’t have happened. He deserves all the credit.”

Brundage noted the restoration would ensure the blockhouse will stand there for another 100 years.

Mayor Wayne Hurst was pleased to see the restoration nearly complete and commended all who were involved for their work.

Hurst noted the contributions of developer Dominic Amicone in donating the land and supporting the restoration project. The vista provided by the blockhouse’s location at the south end of Bob-Lo Island would have been valuable.

Hurst also noted the spirit of volunteerism, stating the Amherstburg residents take ownership of projects and events while helping to present and preserve the town.

“Canada is a country unlike any other,” he said. “It is the best country in the world and has the best people in the world.

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland said the newly revamped blockhouse “is just tremendous” and was “thoroughly impressed” by what he saw.

“For them to use as many existing pieces that they have, is an engineering masterpiece,” said Sutherland.

Councilor Diane Pouget was also very pleased.

“I’m totally awed at the amount of work that went into this,” said Pouget, noting that most of it was volunteer hours. “It’s an important part of our history and we’re very grateful.”

Councilor Bart DiPasquale said he could picture the daily routines that went on at the site in 1839 as he walked thorough the blockhouse.

“I think it’s quite an accomplishment by Dr. Becker and his group,” said DiPasquale.

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