Botwood Heritage Centre unveils three new exhibits

Andrea Gunn
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Published on August 04, 2014

Left to right  Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean, house donor Barbara Ann Saunders, and Botwood Heritage Society President and Deputy Mayor Scott Sceviour cut the ribbon to open a new period exhibit, the Antle House.

Published on August 04, 2014

People take a look around the living room of the Antle House, one of three new exhibits recently opened at the Botwood Heritage Centre.

Published on August 04, 2014

A period table setting at the Antle House.

Published on August 04, 2014

The living room at the Antle House is furnished to look like what it would have during when Tom Antle, a prominent businessman in the community, built it for his family in 1938. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat in the chesterfield when he stopped in Botwood years ago.

Published on August 04, 2014

From left, Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean, Tony Stuckless, Linda Stuckless, and Heritge Society president Scott Sceviour cut the ribbon for a new antique gun exhibit donated by Stuckless.

Published on August 04, 2014

Twelve year old Zachary Peckford examines some of the antique guns on display from the Tony Stuckless collection.

Published on August 04, 2014

Aside from guns, Tony Stuckless also donated various odds and ends to the museum, including retro food packages and more.

Published on August 04, 2014

Left to right  Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean, Barbara Rowsell, Arch Rowsell, and Botwood Heritage Society President Scott Sceviour cut the ribbon to official open the museum’s new antique and classic snowmobile collection. Rowsell donated 11 of the 13 machines on display, he restored all of them over a period of four years.

Published on August 04, 2014

Pictured are just some of the 13 antique and classic snowmobiles on display at the Botwood Heritage Centre. The exhibit was officially opened last Wednesday.

All items donated by community

If there’s one thing to be gleaned from last Wednesday’s opening of three new exhibits at the Botwood Heritage Centre it’s that Botwood residents really care about preserving the rich history of their community.

All three exhibits — an antique gun collection, an antique snowmobile collection, and a period room style exhibit in a house built in 1938 — were donated to the museum by residents, even the house.

In fact, according to Botwood Heritage Society President Scott Sceviour, every item in their museum has been donated.

“We haven’t purchased one item,” he told The Advertiser.

The support and interest in heritage was also evident in the healthy crowd that came out Wednesday afternoon for the opening of the three exhibits.

The first exhibit was the Antle House. The actual building that houses the exhibit was constructed in 1938 for Tom Antle, a prominent businessman who opened central Newfoundland’s first meat market in Botwood.

The house has had several occupants but it was purchased by Barbara Ann Saunders in 2001. Last year, when she and her husband decided to build a new home, they donated what is now called the Antle House to the Heritage Society.

Last summer it was moved from her property to the heritage museum on the airbase.

The house is furnished to look like what it might have in 1938 with period furniture, electronics, and even a table all set for an afternoon tea. Sceviour said the local women’s centre donated a lot of the furnishings and other period items in the house.

“One of the items that is very significant is the sofa set that came out of the old Caledonia camps that was located up on Caledonia Drive,” Sceviour said. “All the VIPs that came through town stayed at the Caledonia camps . . . Winston Churchill actually sat on that chesterfield when he spent a night here in Botwood.”

Saunders was in attendance at Wednesday’s opening and said seeing her old home changed into a museum for people to enjoy was quite emotional.

“It’s lovely to see the house like this,” she said. “ I wish people would donate to the heritage society because the house does need a few repairs, so that would be nice to see,”

The second exhibit that was unveiled on Wednesday was a massive antique gun collection formerly owned by Tony Stuckless. Stuckless, who is originally from Point Leamington, was a former Botwood councillor and worked as a businessman in the community for 40 years.

Stuckless said he started collecting antiques when he bought his first gun at 15 years old. He owned a barbershop at that time and collected guns to mount on the walls.

“As a young fellow I thought it’s sad when this stuff leaves (the province) it’s gone forever, so I said I’d better start getting some of those things before it’s all gone.”

Some of the guns in his collection, which he estimates to be worth between $75,000 and $100,000, date back to the 1700s.

Stuckless said he decided to donate his entire collection, which included his guns and some other antique odds and ends, to the heritage society when he retired and moved to St. John’s.

He said he wanted to give them to a museum so people from the province could enjoy them for years to come.

“I have a strong connection to Botwood. One of the first meetings to start this museum took place at my house actually,” he said.  “Now people can come and see these guns.”

The final new exhibit at Botwood Heritage Centre is so unique, until three months ago it was the only one like it east of Quebec.

The antique and classic snowmobile collection features 13 fully-restored and operational snowmobiles from as far back as the 1960s. Eleven of the machines were restored and donated by Arch Rowsell.

According to Sceviour, a Quebec museum dispersed of its antique snowmobile display a few months ago, making the Botwood Heritage Centre the only museum with a snowmobile collection in eastern Canada.

Rowsell said he started restoring machines about five years ago after a close friend of his passed away.

“He had a 1965 Alpine. After he died I thought if I could find this machine he had back years ago and restore it I would,” he said. “ I found the same one he had and the rest of them came in place.”

Rowsell said he decided to donate the collection when he retired because he wanted it to be somewhere where other people could enjoy it.

“It’s something that’s part of history (most of these machines) are not made anymore and you probably won’t find anywhere,” he said. “When you see kids look at them and sit on them they’re just amazed because they’re so different today than what they were back then. It feels really good.”

Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean said Wednesday’s exhibit opening was a very special event for the Botwood Heritage Society – which celebrated 25 years this summer.  He said the support from the community illustrates how proud the people of Botwood are of their heritage.

“We take great pride in the fact that our heritage society over the last 25 years has endeavoured to encompass how we want to retain our heritage and display it to the public. It’s not just for famous aviators or mayors.

“We’re really proud of how we displayed the heritage of everybody (and) . . . the willingness of everyone to participate and have some input into making it a success.”

Organizations: Botwood Heritage Centre, Heritage Society, Antle House Quebec museum

Geographic location: Botwood, Newfoundland, Point Leamington Quebec Eastern Canada

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