Date : 2016
Source : Espace Temps-Libre
This video was made in December 2015. In it, we see three people who were deeply involved in the project to restore Manoir Fraser in Rivière-du-Loup: Philippe Lagacé, Francine Lagacé, and Denise Laforest.
Sitting comfortably in the manor, each one tells us about the difficulties they faced during the restoration work in the 1990s, as well as during the fundraising period and the final phase of redecorating before the public opening.
In the video, we see a number of present-day views of the manor, along with photographs showing the state of the basement before being restored and others taken of work being done on the roof and the windows.
Philippe Lagacé : At that time, some people, especially those on the town council, wanted to demolish the manor and use the space for another purpose. We didn’t agree, and starting from that moment, we decided to restore it.
Denise Laforest : Then the city met with the presidents of the associations and informed us that Manoir Fraser was now a historical site and belonged to The Canadian Heritage of Quebec, which would provide funding for the restoration but specified that they would not take care of the manor afterwards. Philippe looked at me and said: “Denise, if you say yes, I’ll say yes.” I answered: “If you say yes, I’ll say yes!” And that was the beginning of our great adventure.
P. L.: The business community has been very generous, and because I was quite well-known in the region, it was easier to raise funds, and also, because Madame Pomerleau [Denise Laforest] was very well-known, it was a lot easier.
D. L.: We had to meet people personally and explain why the restoration of Manoir Fraser was important to us and to the city’s history and development. They all agreed with us and were proud of the decision to restore the manor. The response was excellent.
P. L.: The building was in a terrible state. People went in and took everything they could, doorknobs and many other things. Nothing was left inside the manor, no furniture—absolutely nothing.
D. L.: Several doors were hanging too low because floors weren’t level. In the basement, you could smell the damp, and the floors were broken.
P. L.: It was a huge job, but luckily, Heritage (The Canadian Heritage of Quebec) supported us and Roche (Roche Ltd., Consulting Group) gave us a hand all the way through. It took almost three years to get everything done, the restoration and the furnishings, and that was it! It was a real pleasure because we had a great team, who all got on board at the same time as we did.
Francine Lagacé : The interior was not done like a theatre set. That’s why, when people come in, they imagine it has always been that way, and this is because we did our best to recreate what was there in the past. So we didn’t want it to be a set. Really, people teased me a lot, saying that I was searching for the manor’s soul, and I think that we did find its soul.