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New beginning for Mabou landmark

A meeting room in the former St. Joseph’s Renewal Centre in Mabou. The Gaelic College is planning renovations and exploring options with potential funding partners now that the St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou is formally in its hands.
A meeting room in the former St. Joseph’s Renewal Centre in Mabou. The Gaelic College is planning renovations and exploring options with potential funding partners now that the St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou is formally in its hands. - Contributed

Gaelic College formally takes possession of former St. Joseph’s Renewal Centre

MABOU, N.S. — The Gaelic College is planning renovations and exploring options with potential funding partners now that the St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou is formally in its hands.

The sale of the property at 32 MacDonald Rd. closed on Nov. 30, ending a land transfer process that has been in the works since April.

The renewal centre, which was owned by the Congregation of Notre Dame, ceased all operations on Oct. 31. It was an all-girls boarding school and a convent from 1952 to 1978, and was later used solely as an education, cultural and spiritual centre. It ends 131 years of service by the sisters in the community.

The property, on five acres overlooking Mabou harbour, was listed for $599,000 in February. The sale price has yet to be made publicly available, however Gaelic College CEO Rodney MacDonald said it was “within the range they were asking” for.

The value of the three parcels of land purchased by the Gaelic College have been assessed at $539,700 for 2018.

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Mabou convent and renewal centre to close

The future use of the 40,000-square-foot building will include cultural programming and serve as accommodations for students, however MacDonald would say little else at this point.

The Gaelic College, which is located in St. Anns, is working to secure funding for renovations to its new satellite campus.

“We just took it over and now we’re in the planning phase for potential future renovations with the hope we can begin in early 2019,” he said.

“I don’t want to get ahead of our potential funding partners.”

Upgrades are required specifically to meeting rooms, washrooms and classrooms.

The Gaelic College was founded in 1938 and strives to foster Gaelic culture and language through programs, cultural workshops and festivals.

It is organized as a non-profit and operated by a board of governors. It raises money through the Gaelic College Foundation but also receives donations from private citizens and government funding.

Community and religious groups that used the St. Joseph Renewal Centre up to October will be permitted to rent space in the building again starting in late January or early February, MacDonald said.

Cape Breton University and the Gaelic College currently have a memorandum of understanding. Gaelic courses offered at the second- and third-year levels at the Gaelic College are recognized by the university.

MacDonald said he would like to strengthen the current bond the college has with CBU.

“We’re a strong believer in what Cape Breton University is doing.”

He said the “potential is certainly there” to offer CBU programming at the Mabou satellite campus.

chris.shannon@cbpost.com

Twitter: @cbpost_chris

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