Sudbury

Manitoulin community group fights to keep 'Old School' standing

As community members celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Mindemoya Old School, on Manitoulin Island, they also made the case to preserve the building.

100-year old building has been vacant since 2017, and costs municipality $7,000 per year

Friends of the Mindemoya Old School is fighting to preserve the 100-year-old building, which they say holds historical significance in the community. (Submitted by Craig Pettis)

As community members celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Mindemoya Old School on Manitoulin Island on Saturday, they also made the case to preserve the building.

Jan McQuay, president of Friends of the Mindemoya Old School, said the municipality should maintain the building, because it holds historical significance and remains in good structural shape.

"Many of us went to the Old School, who are living in Mindemoya now, and it's a solid structure," she said. "It's made of brick and stone and the craftsmen 100 years ago were just really great craftsmen. They built it to last."

But the Central Manitoulin Municipal Council has said it costs $7,000 every year to maintain the building. It wants to tear the structure down to save those annual costs.

The building has been vacant since 2017, but hosted several businesses before that time, including a dental office, a toy bank and a lawyer's office. 

At the 100th anniversary celebration over the weekend, McQuay said they welcomed many people who went to the school, to help make the case it should be preserved and repurposed for new uses.

Jan McQuay, president of Friends of the Mindemoya Old School, was at an event over the weekend to celebrate the building's history and fight to preserve it. (Submitted by Craig Pettis)

"I went there from Grades 1 to 8," McQuay said. "And I remember going up those broad steps at the very beginning at the front of the building. And of course, I have lots of memories of my teachers and other students that I interacted with."

One guest at the outdoor celebration was a 100-year-old woman who also attended the school. 

The next step for Friends of the Mindemoya Old School, said McQuay, is to apply for grants from the federal government's Canada Community Revitalization Fund to help rehabilitate the building. 

"If we're not successful in one (grant) we'll try for another," she said.

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