HISTORY OF PAST SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS
Listed below are some of the major projects that have been accomplished or are underway by the Community Services Society. Others include donations, educational bursaries to students, sponsoring of a Foster Child, and special projects that benefit the community.
River Bourgeois Community Services began its operation in 1978. The main purpose of this volunteer organization was to build a community hall, which was completed the same year, to replace the old parish hall that was in great need of repairs. Over the years RBCSS has expanded to provide many services to River Bourgeois. The community hall is used for all community and church functions including religion classes, anniversary celebrations and wedding &funeral receptions, etc. Our community hall is also an Emergency Measures Resource Centre should the need arise in an emergency to provide shelter, heat and water to residents.
Over the years the Community Center has been expanded and renovated – all projects of Community Services. The hall was renamed the Tara Lynne Community Centre in 1995 in memory of Tara Lynne Touesnard, a nationally known violinist from River Bourgeois who performed at many of our local concerts and was well known for her dedication to music and her community. Tara Lynne died in a motor vehicle accident in April 1994 at the age of 21.Over the years the hall has been expanded (in 1980 & 1988)
The River Bourgeois Funeral Home was built in 1990. Prior to the building of the funeral home, wakes were held in the vestry of the church or in private homes. Community pledges, volunteer labor and fundraising activities helped realize this project, which has greatly benefited the local and the surrounding communities.
A dream to have a ball field that was accessible to all community members became a reality when Edwin Bona initiated the community ball field project. The first ballgame was held in September 1985. The ball field was renamed the Edwin Bona Community Ball Field on July 16, 1988. A lob ball tournament, co-coordinated by the Bona family, is held in conjunction with the River Bourgeois Annual Festival each year. New signs were erected in 2013.
The Tennis Courts were built in 1987. Community members held fundraising events and with additional financial aid from the Nova Scotia Department of Sports and Recreation, the dream to have tennis courts became a reality. The courts are open for use from early spring to late fall and are used by people from surrounding communities along with the courts being used by Richmond County Recreation for summer tennis instruction.
Three new welcoming community signs were erected in 2000. The project was made possible through a grant from the Municipality of the County of Richmond. Another sign was added to designate the entrance to our River Bourgeois Community Services Society complex during 2001. Welcome to “Home of Mike McPhee” signs were added in 2005.
In the fall of 2000 the River Bourgeois Technology & Training Centre officially opened as a division of River Bourgeois Community Services Society in the basement of our hall. The CAP site provides affordable access to technology for all community members with public access to computers and the Internet, computer training courses and student employment opportunities. On a number of occasions the CAP site has been utilized as a venue for staff and board training by the St. Peters branch of East Coast Credit Union, Richmond Literacy Network and Stats Canada. The site, manned by volunteers, is open over 20 hours a week from September to May as well as covered on the weekends by appointment. We have extended hours in the summer months to accommodate the many tourists and community activities. It was officially closed by the government cutbacks in 2013.
In September 2000 the River Bourgeois Technology & Training Centre Committee teamed up once again to publish “The River Round Up”. In September 2000 it started as a two page monthly newsletter and became a four page newsletter with 275-300 copies printed monthly with a mail out subscription list of 130. It ran for thirteen years.
Young parents from our community formed the River Bourgeois Youth Development Committee in 2001 under the auspices of the RBCSS. They have repainted and repaired playground equipment and with the help of donations and fundraising have purchased additional new playground equipment. In 2002 & 2003 the Committee continued its endeavors in providing paving and fencing for the installation of a ground hockey/basketball pad. They have purchased a large screen TV and Much Music Machine which enabled regular dances and movie nights for our youth.
In the summer of 2001 the first “Heritage Walk” brochure was printed as a part of the annual community festival. The community was divided into sections (ranging from a distance of 2.5 – 3 km each) and members of the community volunteered to use history available on the area, collect old pictures and to capture orally what is remembered by our elders. The data is collected and then transcribed by the summer student into booklet form. On the day of the walk wooden signs labeled with numbers to coincide with the map in the brochure are posted. This has become an event looked forward to by local residents and visitors. Since we have an older population in River Bourgeois the booklets are designed for those who are unable to walk, to take their cars.
During 2002 a spacious (20’ x 60’) outdoor deck was added to the Tara Lynne Community Hall with financial aid from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation.
August 2003 was the opening of our new lighthouse (a replica of the original which was built 100 years ago in 1903). It is back to guide boats entering or exiting our harbor. The River Bourgeois Lighthouse is a significant part of the heritage and history of River Bourgeois. It was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1990 and rebuilt though the efforts of the community after purchasing the land from government officials. Our first Annual Christmas Celebration was held to thank the patrons of River Bourgeois for their service.
May, 2003 the River Bourgeois Seniors 50 + Club (originated in 1993) initiated their first Richmond County Expo at the Tara Lynne Center. It was a two-day event held yearly and it is strictly for the benefit of the seniors. The event cannot be held in the Seniors Building because of the large amount of seniors attending. The seniors group also hold their major fundraisers such as concert, bingos etc. at the Tara Lynne Center.
In 2007 a Cenotaph Committee was formed as a division of River Bourgeois Community Services Society to renovate our cenotaph dedicated to those who served and made the supreme sacrifice and to build a new Veterans Memorial Wall with plaques to commemorate all veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean War, Persian Gulf, Peacekeeping & Afghanistan. Phase I of this project has been completed with financial aid from the Municipality of the County of Richmond’s Infrastructure Program. Phase II was completed summer of 2009 with the re-dedication service held on August 29, 2009.
These RBCSS activities are funded by various fundraising events such as Trivia and Pub nights, Community Markets, Chase the Ace, weekly luncheons, yearly Haunted House concerts and hall rentals but most of the annual budget is derived from the annual community festival, River Bourgeois Festival Days, ten days, which has been held on the Labor Day weekend for the past 42 years.
In 2011 we began our yearly roadside cleanup and each year we have more than fifty people proudly assisting in beautifying our community.
In 2014 River Bourgeois celebrated its 300th Birthday. Major celebrations were held for ten days including the arrival of our French Acadians in boats, unveiling of a new monument to commemorate the occasion followed by a luncheon with a replica of foods served in 1714.In 2015 saw the start of having weekly low cost luncheons each Saturday in conjunction with Chase the Ace. This enabled the organization to offer a place for people of the community to meet and also more operational funding available to enhance our infrastructure programs. We also recognized “River Bourgeois Greatest Volunteer” Anne Sampson who in thirty-four years with twenty-one organizations served our community for over 320 total years of service. Our Seniors Building was renamed “The Anne Sampson Building”
In 2016 saw the installation of heat pumps throughout our community hall. The purchased of two efficiency cost coolers for each floor.
In 2017 as part of the Canada 150 we completely revamped our Tennis Courts and held several new events commemorating Canada’s Birthday during our 39 Annual Festival. Our children’s playground is in processes of a new face lift. The equipment arrived in November and was installed in June 2018. The Anne Sampson Building now has a full gym for its members following the purchase of several new exercise machines. Our first Annual “Winterlude Dinner” was held.
In 2018 the Children’s new Playground was installed at a cost of $62,000. All of these funds were raised by the newly revamped Youth Development Committee. Heat pumps were installed in the Anne Sampson building.
In 2019 Our Chase the Ace fundraiser event broke all records by going 52 weeks with the very last card being the Ace of Spades. In total $423,000 was raised between July 2018 and Aug 2019. 20% went to the weekly winner, 30% to the winner of the progressive jackpot and RBCSS hall committee and the Youth Development Committee received each 25%. These funds enabled RBCSS to pay off our heat pumps and do some maintenance to the building. Many projects are scheduled be done in 2020.
Thank you. We the people of River Bourgeois are very proud of our community, our heritage and all we have accomplished. We demonstrate this in our willingness to volunteer our talents and in our financial support of community and/or church projects.