A MOMENT IN A LIFETIME
19 Years On Heron Island

For George and Stella

Foreword

Heron Island's Last Human Birth

The Legend Of The Phantom Ship Of The Baie Des Chaleurs

Some LaPointe Ancestry

The Mercier Connection

Beginning A New Life

The Island

The Children

Some Strange Occurances

The Day To Day Realities

Unforgettable Christmases

The Five Dresses

The Family Grows Larger

More Sons

The LeBlanc Fortune

The Last Son

The War Ends It All

Heron Island Today - a footnote

Last Word - The Legacy

Another Update On The Island and Some Photos

Heron Island Today

Being the last person born of Heron Island, I am very interested in what is happening to it today. I wrote to the Minister of Culture and Recreation in New Brunswick last year, on my birthday.


(To those reading this online, I must add that I wrote this in the early 1990's, so whatever the reply was at that time, none of it has come to pass)
It took eight months to get a reply. When I finally did, the Minister sent me this outline of current plans for the island:

"In 1987, Mr Gilles Sousy, an independent developer, submitted a request to the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Heritage for permission to undertake a development study for Heron Island. Permission was granted in January, 1988 with the main provisos stipulating the Province of New Brunswick would not be obligated to participate in financing the study nor would it be obligated to implement any recommendations resulting from the study.


In March 1988, a pre- feasibility study, (Phase 1) funded through A.C.O.A., was completed by the Quebec firm Roche-Urbanex. It contained the basic data needed to determine the preliminary technical and financial feasibility of the project. The results concluded that the project was viable depending on the degree of adherence to certain principles and parameters.
A subsequent study (Phase II) also funded through A.C.O.A., addressed the market feasibility in more detail and analyzed the financial feasibility and the economic spin-offs of the project should it be realized over the next fifteen years. This too was reported favourable.

Project Description
The proposal is to develop and market a recreational and touristic theme park/attraction on Heron Island that would target local, national and international markets, comparable to other major north America attractions such as Disney world.
The Heron Island Oasis would market four principle tourism products: Theme Park, Total Health Complex and Meeting Centre, Heron Island Recreation Park and Nature Interpretation Centre.


The tourism products would be made up of the following ten components:
1) International Villages
Each village would reproduce the "ambience" of a particular country. Surrounding a typical village centre would be twenty to thirty lodging units, two to three houses with architectural characteristics of the particular culture and a garden. At the entrance of the village would be a "customs" receptionist. Among the service offered to the tourists would be a restaurant serving traditional meals of that country and one or more souvenir and craft boutiques. The employees of the village would wear traditional costumes and, ideally, speak the language of that country.

2) The Central Pavilion and "plaza" Situated close to the main access point to the island, the "plaza" would encompass a central pavilion representing Canada, New Brunswick and Quebec, a tourist information centre for all the activities taking place on the island and conference rooms for conventions and business meetings.

3) The studio "You're the Star" Adjacent to the plaza, a complete video studio would allow for the public to create their own video-clips and would operate on a reservation basis. Added to this studio would be a state-of- the-art I-Max movie theatre using a very large screen.

4) The Ornithological Centre and Bird Sanctuary The species of birds and the natural setting would be put to good use at the Ornithological Centre. The available equipment would attract amateur bird watchers while providing for an exchange network between other centres such as that of Bonaventure Island in Perce, Quebec and l'ile d'Ouessant in France. Part of the island would be exclusively reserved as a bird sanctuary, where there are presently colonies of Cormorants, Herons and other species.

5) Autochthonous Craft Centre A centre where the history and culture of the native people from the Chaleur Bay would be displayed. Indian and inuit artifacts from other countries would also be displayed.

6) Nature Paths A network of paths and trails would be created to allow visitors to discover all aspects of the island, beaches, fishing, observation of the faun,(?) geological formations and look-out points.

7) Camping Short term camping would be available on the western portion of the island in close proximity to the recreational and beach areas.

8) Golf An 18 hole golf course at the centre of the island would also include a pro shop, dining room, bar, lockers and showers.

9) Marina, main wharf and touring boat A fifty berth marina would be situated eat of the old wharf. This marina could accommodate boating enthusiasts for short stays or several days. Close to the marina would be situated the main wharf where arrivals and departures would take place to and from the island on a public shuttle as well as a touring boat that could accommodate one hundred passengers and depart for two hour excursions in the Chaleur Bay.

10) Total Health and Fitness Centre A fitness complex that would be ideal for a growing health spa vacation market. The facilities would include modern fitness equipment, tennis courts, a fitness and running track, a salt water pool and hot tub. The restaurant would have the flexibility to accommodate a variety of dietary menus.

Access to the island would be via a passenger only shuttle service from the mainland, where appropriate parking facilities would be available for tourists using their automobiles. The Charlo airport would service all interprovincial tourists with a helicopter shuttle service to the island.

So, that was the plan for Heron Island. (Do you believe this?) Bear in mind the small size of the island, and the amount of stuff that they plan to put on it.
The International Villages are to represent Japan, Germany, France, and a few others, each with 20 to 30 lodging units. This alone could fill up the space. A golf course, 18 holes, no less.

What a sad ending to what was once home to families, self-sufficient and courageous, and birds and animals, living in perfect harmony with nature.

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