East St. Paul unveils its Centennial Plaza

The RM of East St. Paul unveils its Centennial Plaza with plenty of fan-fare on Aug. 16. (Photo Submitted)

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It seemed like all the stars aligned for the opening of East St. Paul’s Centennial Plaza on August 16 – Mother Nature turned the thermostat down and young and old alike converged on the Municipal Office’s new ‘Front Porch’ for what is hoped will be the first of many community celebrations.

The ‘Front Porch’ is Centennial Plaza, an extension of the municipal office where the community can gather, hold events and learn about East St. Paul’s history.

The first gathering at the Plaza was a huge success. Approximately 350 people were greeted by the lovely singing voices of Brigitta and Corina Schuler before being taken on a trip down what for some was memory lane and for others a pleasant history lesson.

Mayor Shelley Hart admitted that when she and her husband Paul built their home in the community 32 years ago, neither knew much about East St. Paul. It was Hart’s involvement in our Centennial year that led to her enlightenment, and now she’s on a mission to share her newfound knowledge and lead the charge to help preserve and share the RM’s important history.

The RM’s 100th anniversary in 2016 has already resulted in the publication of a history book, and Hart said Centennial Plaza provides another way for people to learn about the community’s past.

“This was one of Council’s objectives when we contemplated a legacy project to mark our centennial – to tell our story,” Hart said.

“As a community, we haven’t preserved our historical buildings. The original Birds Hill School was demolished, and Reid’s Blacksmith Shop was purchased and moved to the Cooks Creek Heritage Museum in Springfield.
“We have only one remaining Fox Tower in the community and we are attempting to acquire and move it to a location where the public can visit it and learn about this early industry.”

At the Plaza opening, Hart and members of council – Charles Posthumus, Orest Horechko, Brian Duval and Mike Wasylin – unveiled five history markers that tell the story of East St. Paul’s early years and industry.

Hart introduced Marten Posthumus, a long-time East St. Paul resident whose artwork adorns two of the markers. Posthumus, a proud Dutch immigrant, called the RM home for 30 years and is an enthusiast of both art and history, making his presence at the Plaza all the more special.

“We are very honoured to display his art in Centennial Plaza, adding yet another dimension to the history and significance of this space,” Hart said.