Each year the Morin Heights Historical Association presents two awards, one to a person or group that has made a significant contribution to the preservation and promotion of local history, and one to a person or group that has preserved the architectural integrity of a historically significant building. Below are the recipients that we have honoured to date.
HERITAGE CONSERVATION AWARDS
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Normally this award is given in recognition of someone who has contributed to the understanding and preservation of our history, but in Ernie's case he is such a part of that history that we are making an exception. Nobody deserves this honour more than him, in recognition of a lifetime of devotion to his community. He retired in 2003 after 30 years as the Chief of Police for Morin-Heights, and was feted at a well-attended retirement party at that time, including a special edition of Main Street in his honour. Anyone who attended will remember Neil Zach’s song El Morin, with special lyrics, sung to the tune of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.” Now 85, Ernie lives a quiet life in Morin Heights, spending time with his daughter Ann and his three grandsons. READ MORE
The Heritage Conservation Award for 2021 was given to the municipality of Morin Heights for the care in which they renovated the heritage Bellevue Hotel. The town created a new community centre that totally respected the architecture of the original 1945 building, including the wonderful veranda that surrounds the building on three sides. Work was done between 2015 and 2017. This project stands as a model for the future on how to preserve the look of a heritage building while repurposing it for a modern usage. READ MORE
Morin Heights Historical Association has bestowed its highest honour on Shirley Dey Captain, awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2021.
Shirley was an original member of the Association 25 years ago, and served as Director and both Secretary and Treasurer from 2003 to 2007. A resident of Lake Hughes in Mille Isles, Shirley, along with a few others, began the task of amassing archival material from this neighbouring municipality. Shirley later donated these Archives to the Morin Heights Historical Association, where they remain. Shirley volunteered at all early historical association events in Morin Heights, and sometimes participated in 19th century costume, (see photo) and remained a cheerful and dedicated supporter of the group. READ MORE
AN ORIGINAL 1908 LAKE ECHO SUMMER COTTAGE
In 2020, the Board of Directors of MHHA decided that this year’s Architectural Heritage award would go to an original Lake Echo summer cottage. A committee of four—Doug Simon, James Jackson, Michelle Prévost and Don Stewart—toured three pre-World One homes before choosing the winner of this year’s award. The award presentation was postponed to a future date due to COVID 19 restrictions.
The award was presented to the Poirier family for their totally-original 1908 summer cottage (pictured above) at 538 ch du Lac Echo. It sits high on a hill overlooking the lake. Originally owned by the Hennemuth and Brown families (for over 100 years), it is now enjoyed by current owner David Poirier and his family. READ MORE
Morin Heights Historical Association bestowed its highest honour to Barbara Brown Traill, given the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020 at the annual Awards dinner on February 26 (held late due to COVID restrictions).
She was one of the original members of the Association (along with Shirley Captain, Dawn Nesbitt, Charles Vaillancourt, Kathy Weary and Sandra Stock, amongst others.) When Sandra resigned in 1999, the group convinced Barbara to take on the President’s job, believing “we can’t let this go.” She headed a dedicated team. Charlie Vaillancourt, himself president for many years, said “keeping it going was the hardest part, and Barbara continued to provide great support over the years.” During her years, the group held exhibits, played an essential role in the dedication ceremony to name parks and bridges, held an auction of memorabilia and a popular antique evaluation day at the old Trinity Community Center. READ MORE
GARDERIE VAL DES NEIGES DAYCARE
MARY WEEKES and SEBASTIEN WOLCZYK
The 2019 award for heritage conservation goes to Val des Neiges daycare (CPE) centre in the old center of the village. Their attention to detail when adding several additions over the years to the 111-year old Seale home merits particular commendation, as they have added several adjoining wings to the old house that are architecturally identical to the original—a model for how older buildings can be adapted to new purposes without destroying their heritage integrity. READ MORE
LAURA DAVIS NESBITT
Laura Davis Nesbitt (1897-1993) received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” posthumously from the Morin Heights Historical Association at the 4th Annual Heritage Awards Gala held October 25, 2019. The award honours Laura’s role as a pioneer in preserving Morin Heights’ history. A number of her descendants were on hand to accept the award on behalf of the Davis-Nesbitt family.
Laura is credited with being Morin Heights’s first historian with her detailed research and written account of the town’s history that she produced for the Morin Heights 1955 Centennial celebrations. Her passion for community involvement also got her elected in July 1956 as Morin Heights’ first female town councilor. READ MORE
The 1895 Hillside Chapel is the recipient of the Morin Heights Historical Association Heritage 2018 Award for preservation of local buildings. The simple, white-painted wooden clapboard building at the corner of chemin du Village and rue Hillside has remained virtually unchanged— inside and out—for almost 125 years, an amazing achievement. It has been beautifully maintained, painted, straightened, had new doors installed and other minor improvements, but otherwise it’s the most authentic old building still standing in Morin Heights. Tucked onto a tiny corner lot, the old structure still lacks plumbing facilities. The chapel was built by Abraham Watchorn and his nephews in 1895 on land donated by the Watchorn family. READ MORE
At the 3rd annual Heritage Awards gala on October 13, 2018, Michael Tott received the highest honour from the Morin Heights Historical Association—the Lifetime achievement award—for his many contributions to local heritage.
The local businessman and consummate community leader created what’s virtually a museum at La Grange restaurant putting his collection of Morin Heights memorabilia on display. Artifacts from the Commons Hotel, Mont Bellevue and Le Studio, as well as walls full of heritage Morin Heights photos became the focal points of the décor at the restaurant he built in 2012 using salvaged beams from the Campbell barn. READ MORE
HISTORIC BELISLE FARMHOUSE RETAINS ORIGINAL LOOK
RÉJEAN and FRANCE BELISLE
The 2017 award for Conserving local heritage buildings went to Réjean and France Belisle for preserving the heritage Belisle farm on the 4th Range Road. As one rounds a curve and reaches the top of the summit on the 4th range road, one suddenly comes to a breathtaking vista. On one side of the road is a typical simple turn of the century farmhouse (1899) including its outbuildings, and across from it is a beautiful roadside cross. READ MORE
Sandra Stock received the 2017 Heritage award for Lifetime Achievement. She was the founder of the
Morin Heights Historical Association in 1997. She served as President from 1997 to 1999 and again from
2004 to 2007, as well as starting the historical journal, The Porcupine, and serving as editor for numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.
Sandra’s mother’s family had been residents of Lake Echo since before the First World War; they moved here permanently in the 1950s, when her father became the town’s Secretary-Treasurer. After a B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in Art History, she was a career high school English teacher. READ MORE
PIONEER GUÉNETTE FARMHOUSE PRESERVED
ANDRÉE GAUTHIER AND DIRK SCHMEKEL
The first honour for Conserving local heritage buildings went to Andrée Gauthier and Dirk Schmeckel in 2016. The couple was recognized for their work in preserving the pioneer character of their home on rue Jonathan. It was originally the Guénette farmhouse, located on Rang 2, lot 31, at the corner of Belisle and the old road to St- Sauveur. We don’t know when the Guenette family acquired the property or built the house. The original barn was situated where rue du Village now passes. READ MORE
The first-ever Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement was given to George B. “Bunny” Basler at a gala dinner at Restaurant La Grange on September 17, 2016. Bunny, born in 1928, is one of the town’s most ardent supporters of the Morin Heights Historical Association, attending most events and always ready with a word of encouragement. But he’s also a dedicated worker who has participated for decades in efforts to preserve the community’s heritage. Amazingly, he was a member of all three committees that planned events to celebrate the town’s 100th anniversary in 1955, 125th in 1980, and 150th in 2005. His legacy includes the donation of the original St. John’s Ambulance building to the Morin Heights Historical Association, now the association headquarters. The building is now named after him––the Bunny Basler Historical Centre. READ MORE