Work continues this summer on reconstruction of two of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site’s buildings.
As reported earlier by SooToday, meticulous reconstruction of the site’s stores building and the exterior of the superintendent’s house is proceeding after $12 million in federal funding for a major overhaul of the site was first announced in 2015.
The work wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of skilled tradespeople under the guidance of Parks Canada project managers Barry Guzzo and Bachir Nedjar, so we visited, chatted, took some photos, and dropped off a pair of complimentary SooToday coffee mugs.
Bachir, who is tasked with reconstructing the exterior of the superintendent’s house, grinned as he told us he and his family have adjusted to a slower pace of life in the Sault after relocating here from southern Ontario.
“I feel contributing to a project like this is not only helping the present generation to profit from this gem (the superintendent’s house), but it’s also for future generations,” Bachir said.
“The completion date for this project is for the end of this September, and we’re about 60 per cent complete, there are no issues so far,” Bachir said.
Reconstruction of the house’s interior will come next.
As for Barry, he and his crew have been working on a complete restoration of the site’s stores building, an ambitious project which began in 2016.
“We’re in the final stages...we expect to be completed this fall,” Barry said.
Along with a total reconstruction of the stores building’s interior, Barry’s team painstakingly removed each individual stone from the south wall’s red sandstone surface, cataloguing and safely storing each one while the building’s foundation was repaired.
Most of the original red sandstones from the south wall have been put back in place, while the newer stones are red sandstone replacements.
The stores building will be for visitors to the Canal site to enjoy, the first stop on their visit to the site’s other attractions, such as the canal itself.
“We want to open the facility up to accommodate more practical uses of the facility for current and future generations,” Barry said, clearly enthusiastic about his work.
Barry knows every inch of the canal site, having worked in a variety of roles in that location over the last 33 years.
Barry told us when it’s time to retire, he wants to make sure he leaves behind a fully trained team in charge of the property, with the same knowledge and passion for the site which he has shown all along.
It is anticipated all reconstructive work at Parks Canada’s Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site will be done by 2020.