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On February 25, the annual Heritage Awards took place inside La Basoche in Old Aylmer to honour those who have contributed to the district’s cultural heritage. For the very first time since the award show’s debut in 2003, $5,000 will be awarded to someone who “stood out when it comes to the enhancement of buildings in our cultural heritage.”

“This includes different kinds of heritage, so we’re talking about heritage buildings, of course, but also historic heritage, commemorative heritage, historic objects, and archives,” said Sonia Bisson, cultural agent for the arts, culture, literature and heritage committee.

The 18th edition of the award show ran from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and was by invitation only. The night began with a cocktail hour, followed by the award presentations, announced by various local artists like comedian Rachel Robillard, and closed off with another round of refreshments. The ceremony was very intimate and the 85 individuals in attendance were those most involved with the upkeep of the city’s heritage and their families and friends.

The first ever certificate of excellence for the preservation and restoration of built heritage in Gatineau was attributed to the recreational association Les Jardins du Château for its restoration work on the Château Monsarrat. The Château, a two-and-a-half storey residence, was built around 1930. Located on the outskirts of downtown Hull, the stone site is associated to several local historical figures, such as famous author Nicholas John Turney Monsarrat. Les Jardins du Château fought hard to protect the Château Monsarrat from being demolished. The recreational organization funded, coordinated and supervised restoration works, which required the use of “original materials and the know-how of specialized craftsmen”.

“Since 2018, the organization, managed by dedicated volunteers and co-owners, has begun major restoration work, supported by an architect specializing in heritage building restoration,” stated a press release from the city of Gatineau. “A ten-year plan has been developed and the scope and priority of the work are known and planned.”

In order to be eligible to win the preservation and/or restoration certificate, one must have made physical renovations on a building mainly of heritage interest for residential or commercial use or renewed or enhanced a building that has retained its heritage value.

“A building is considered of heritage value through inventory done by the city, or through a status of protection that is attributed either by the city, the Quebec government or the government of Canada, so there are different levels,” said Bisson.

The city of Gatineau, which is rich in heritage buildings, strives to “highlight, safeguard and transmit information,” byconstantly updating its inventory in abidance with the Cultural Heritage Act.

Other certificates were attributed to Roland Michaud, for his contribution to fire history and to the Gatineau Fire Museum Corporation; Roger Blanchette, for his entire career dedicated to the transmission of the history of the Outaouais; Nicole Coulombe, for her remarkable citizen involvement in heritage organizations; and, lastly, the Salon du patrimoine de l'Outaouais and its artisans, for their promotion and dissemination of Gatineau history and cultural heritage.

Steven Boivin, Aylmer district councillor and vice-chair of the arts, culture, literature, and heritage committee, emphasized the importance of events like this one. “We try to showcase the people who enhance these buildings because, well, not everybody does it, for starters, but beyond that, it allows us to tell and preserve our history and, for citizens in Old Aylmer especially, it is very important because we have a lot [of heritage]. La rue Principale is a perfect example.”

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