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Pugwash community surpasses $500,000 library target

Keya Hesketh of Iron Maple Constructors works on the new library under construction in Pugwash. Darrell Cole-Municipality of Cumberland.

When Pugwash’s new 3,700-square-foot library was announced several months ago, Dennice Leahey and Elizabeth Clarke had little doubt they’d have any difficult achieving the challenge of raising $500,000 in the community.

 Leahey and Clarke got together with Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott and Deputy Mayor and District 3 Coun. Jennifer Houghtaling to celebrate the passing of the milestone.

“We’ve got a beautiful community that wants, above all, to see the community change and get better,” Leahey said. “We never thought for one moment that we’d have any difficulty achieving our goal. This community has an amazing capacity to give, to volunteer and to be involved.”

Leahey isn’t surprised the target was achieved so quickly as it seemed as though every week there was a report of a major gift coming to the campaign.

“There was this tremendous momentum that kept growing,” Leahey said, adding donations ranged from a few dollars to thousands. “Very early on we knew were going to make it. It wasn’t hard to feel good about what we were doing.”

Earlier this year, the Municipality of Cumberland announced plans to build a $2.198-million library to replace the existing library that has been in the former Pugwash train station since 1988. The community was asked to contribute $500,000 to the project with the municipality committing to pay the rest.

Iron Maple Contractors began work on the new library in late June and it’s expected to be completed later this fall and ready for occupancy in early 2023.

Clarke said that while the library is in Pugwash it won’t just impact the village. Instead, she said, it will improve life across the North Shore, including cottage country along the Northumberland Strait, to Wallace, Malagash, Linden, Shinimicas, Tidnish, Wentworth and other areas around the village.

“The library has really been the talk of the town since it was announced,” Clarke said. “We’ve had support from everyone from all walks of life and from all areas.”

Houghtaling never doubted the community’s ability to respond to the challenge.

“I am beyond impressed,” Houghtaling said. “I’m still pinching myself looking at this building. I’ve been on the committee for eight years and the design went through several iterations. When I was introduced to Dennice and Elizabeth it was like winning the lottery. I don’t think I could have gotten the results they have. They told me the community will support a good project.”

Mayor Scott congratulated the community for its support of such an important project. While a new library has been talked about for more than two decades, to finally see it coming to fruition is welcome news.He thanked Leahey and Clarke for their “unbelievable” effort.

“When we first started to think about raising money in the community, I was afraid that raising that amount would be impossible. But I couldn’t have thought of two better people to make it happen,” the mayor said. “To think within eight weeks of that first meeting that would have achieved their goal is amazing.”