Work on P.E.I.'s new Stompin' Tom Connors Centre underway

Work on the Stompin' Tom Centre in Skinners Pond, site of his boyhood home, is underway with the opening set for July 1, 2017.

Skinners Pond museum, interpretive centre set to open next Canada Day, eh?

The Skinners Pond home of Stompin' Tom Connors is getting its big makeover into a museum and interpretative centre. (CBC)

The old homestead in Skinners Pond where Stompin' Tom Connors grew up is getting a face lift.

Work has started on major repairs to the exterior and basement of the building.

It's all part of the $1.5 million project to build a Stompin' Tom Centre in the adjacent field.

"I think people are anxiously waiting to see how everything comes about, and I think they'll be here in droves to support it as well," said Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives.

The house where Connors lived needs major repairs, and won't be open inside to the public. (CBC)
Several of the surrounding buildings are being renovated to be used as part of the attraction.

The interior of the old home will not be open to the public for now, said Arsenault, but the old schoolhouse adjacent to the property will be transformed into a museum.

Schoolhouse part of centre

Part of it will show what the original schoolhouse looked like when Connors attended, and the other section will include a digital interactive component.

Some of the old interior wood wall, still with names carved into it, will also be kept because of its historic significance.

"This was the actual wall of the school at one time, the original one, you can see how wide the boards are, they're beautiful," said Arsenault. "You can see writing, like from students, you can see letters in there and stuff."

Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives, which is behind the centre, says the old schoolhouse where Connors was a student will house a museum and digital interactive component. (CBC)
Another building on the property will also be renovated, to be used for activities and to serve as an interpretive centre to showcase Irish moss.

Construction on the new centre will begin this October.

The goal is to have most of the exterior work finished before the snow flies, with the interior work taking place over the winter.

Company coming

There are already bookings for next year when it opens, said Arsenault.

"There will be a dinner theatre two evenings a week, they'll be a ceilidh one evening a week, and we're just in the process of booking the other entertainment throughout the summer," she said.

The design of the original building has been scaled back significantly, with fewer exterior lights, a gravel parking lot instead of a paved one, a take-out counter instead of a cafe, and no deck, which would have doubled the 100-person capacity seating area.

An original wall of the schoolhouse will be preserved, complete with names carved by former students. (CBC)
However, those are improvements which could be added later, Arsenault said, if they acquire more funding.

The centre will have a deck on the second floor, which will overlook the water, something Arsenault is already excited about.

"You'll be able to order a cold beer, and you can take that right up to the second floor deck, which will be facing the ocean," she said. "You'll be able to sit up there while you overlook the harbour and Skinners Pond Beach. I think it's awesome!"

The opening date for the Stompin' Tom Centre is Canada Day 2017.