This summer was a proud one for Milt and Bev Loomis and supporters of Ascott Heritage and its ongoing project to restore and bring to life the historic Little Hyatt One-room schoolhouse in Milby. The school, which dates to at least 1822, was re-opened to the public as a heritage site about eight years ago. A number of improvements have been made since that time. The latest, the creation of an interpretive panel and shelter area on the grounds of the school, was the occasion for a celebration in June.
A hundred or so guests were on hand for the unveiling of the large, two-sided, bilingual panel dedicated to the history and heritage sites of Ascott Township. One side of the panel features the history of churches, schools and mills in the township, while the other focused on the covered bridges of the area. Each side of the panel includes a large map, photographs, and details about local history.
Sherbrooke councillor and long-time supporter Bob Pouliot was on hand for the unveiling. He welcomed the various guests, including Gladys Bruun, the mayor of Waterville, where the schoolhouse is situated. Bruun said that it was "so nice to see the old school all renovated; it's become a tourist attraction." She thanked the volunteers for their dedication in bringing the project to completion.
Bruun had special praise for the Loomises. "You have a passion for history," she said, "and you never give up." She added, "As we all know, history is not always first on people's agenda. But thanks to you, hopefully more young people will get to know their history."
Former MP David Price was also present. He congratulated the Loomises for their hard work. "I've followed this project through the years," he said. "You've done an incredible job."
The United Empire Loyalists Association were also well represented at the unveiling. The Association, which was instrumental in getting the schoolhouse project off the ground fifteen years ago, considers the project one of its most important ones and has financially supported it in its several phases. Robert Wilkins, who is president of the Heritage Branch of the UEL Association (Montreal), said that the Association owes "an enormous debt of thanks to Bev and Milt for having worked so hard to give us a window on the Loyalists of this part of the country."
Fellow UEL member George Beaulieu echoed that sentiment. "We all have dreams," he said, "but not everyone is able to see their dreams come true; the Loomises are seeing theirs come true." Adding a word of caution, however, Beaulieu said that we have to think about the future. Eventually, he said, "we will need the younger generation to take over; without them, that dream will go down the drain; and that would be a shame."
The Loomises, who have certainly been the driving force behind the schoolhouse project from the start, were modest in their acceptance of praise. "We could not have done any of this without the support of many individuals and organizations. We had a lot of help"
The panel, they told Townships Heritage WebMagazine, " took about a year and a half and cost about $10,000, not to mention all of the volunteer labour that we had donated."
Contributing cash were MNA Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, The Belanger Gardner Trust Foundation, Townshippers' Foundation, the Bell Canada Retiree Program "Helping Hands Open Heart," ETFS, the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, the Municipality of Waterville, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, and the Pacte rurale of the MRC Coaticook. Also helping along the way were Murray and Lorne Powell, George Martel, Dwane Wilkin of QAHN, Lu Rider of the Lennoxville-Ascott Historical & Museum Society, Lewis Downey, Bob Pouliot, and others.