5.1 The Cultural Core
Parks Canada intends to concentrate on communicating the site’s heritage values to all visitors, whether they are pleasure boaters, strollers or picnickers, so that they can appreciate the canal’s national historic significance and the role the waterway has played in Canada’s navigation network and the development of commerce.
In practical terms, the presentation of the site will be articulated around interpretation panels to be set up outside, particularly on the central pier section where the upstream and downstream piers meet; these panels will recount important stages in the development of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal. The area beside the old lock, associated with the earliest canal work, could eventually be used to present artifacts that may be unearthed if archaeological excavation are carried out on the site of the lock itself when appropriate funding becomes available. The building standing on the central section is a reminder of the period in the early 1960s when the lock was modernized. Although the building will retain its appearance and continue to be used as the lockmasters’ office and to house lock mechanisms, the interior could be refitted so as to accommodate a small reception and orientation area that would present the role played by the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal in the context of the canal system in eastern Canada and the eastern U.S.A.
To complement the interpretive panels to be set up outside, plans call for displaying certain artifacts from the old CN railway bridge (for example the eye-bar) outside as well. In the event that the project for restoring the old superintendent’s house is realized, Parks Canada would be ready, on the condition that appropriate financing is available, to occupy one of the rooms on the ground floor and use it to set up a thematic exhibition that would complement the other interpretive components on the site. Parks Canada also intends to ensure that the project’s promoters are aware of the objectives of preserving components that characterize the site’s landscape and of maintaining the spatial and visual interrelations between these different components.
With respect to communicating the site’s heritage values, other proposals include a visitors’ brochure, guided visits offered by the Friends of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and opportunities to watch lockmasters operating the lock.
The cultural core could be an ideal place for presenting an exhibition from any of the other historic canals in the system. The development of travelling exhibitions that would foster exchanges within the historic canal system and with the museum network outside this system might well enhance the reputation of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and other historic canals.
Finally, Parks Canada will continue to upgrade its Internet site periodically so that those who for various reasons are unable to visit the site in person can nonetheless become acquainted with it and appreciate its commemorative intent and the heritage values associated with it.