By Wendy Elliott
Louise Boucher is the new site management coordinator for the World UNESCO site in Grand Pré.
Boucher, who has a Ph.D. in Human Geography from the University of Ottawa, began her new job in October and has opened an office for the Landscape of Grand Pré Society at 360 Main Street in Wolfville. An open house is set for Dec. 11 from 2–4 p.m.
Boucher is excited about the rich heritage of the Grand Pré area and the opportunities offered by the new world heritage site.
A native of Ste. Jerome, Quebec, her interest in world heritage sites was piqued when she worked in Mexico for six months. That was where Boucher learned how important it is to preserve landscapes for future generations.
“What you discover in books is important, but on site is amazing,” she said. A landscape, Boucher added, is a kind of museum in the field where there is no roof to protect collections, only the open sky.
Boucher worked for 18 years at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau. Her doctorate work involved the old industrial buildings of the E.B. Eddy Match Company along the Ottawa River.
At the same time, Boucher taught courses in geography and world heritage at the University of Ottawa. She says issues of climate change, mass tourism, war, negligence and the lack of resources all arose.
“Heritage is important is every culture, but it does not tend to be covered in the academic world,” Boucher said.
For her, Grand Pré is a rare intercultural landscape. Most evidence of the first settlers, she added, disappeared when someone decided to burn everything.
Boucher says she is impressed with the level of effort Grand Pré area residents contributed to the UNESCO nomination.
“There were many volunteer hours that went into gathering documentation,” she said.
She sees a need for public education around use of both environmentally fragile dykes, as well as privately-owned dykeland. Installing signage and better mapping is also needed.
A new, large display map, showing the Landscape of Grand Pré, is now installed outside the entrance to the Grand Pré National Historic Site visitor centre. A brochure dispenser is adjacent.
The National Historic Site facilities are currently closed, however the grounds remain open year-round, as does the View Park.