John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 11.14.05
Fool's Hollow, Quebec


The new Granite Museum in Stanstead, Quebec

STANSTEAD, QC | If all the bits and pieces fall into place, Stanstead's new granite promotion center will open for business before Christmas.

That's according to David Bourgon, a former Magog promoter who conceived the GEMS project more than two years ago.

GEMS is the acronym for Granite Exposition and Museum of Stanstead.

The idea is promote the many uses of granite in both home and commerce and -- at the same time and under the same roof -- to recognize the decades of granite history here on the border.

Some ten granite-related businesses have joined with promoter Bourgon and his partner Sandra Bergeron to create the GEMS center.

The center is located just around the corner from the Canada Customs port of entry in downtown Rock Island, on the banks of the Tomifobia River.

It's in a 10,000 square foot building that formerly housed the local supermarket. The estimated cost, according to Bourgon, is about $600,000. Funds have been raised from various governmental and private organizations.

I met last Friday afternoon with Bourgon and Joe Ford, the Lennoxville graphic designer associated with Picture This On Granite, an up and coming laser-etching company associated with the GEMS project.

The entrance to the center is not yet built-out and the raw construction site appearance hides what's going on inside.

Let me take you on a quick tour. Image the front fašade as it will look in a month's time:

The entire front wall is sheathed in panels of famous Stanstead Grey granite - the same granite found at Dorval Airport and the Irish Famine Celtic Cross on Grosse Ile, in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City.

The right of the entry, large letters made of granite spell out the GEMS name: Granite Exposition and Musuem of Stanstead.

To the left, a four foot by eight foot photograph of two workers laboring in a granite quarry. This powerful image by a local photographer is etched in black granite.

Surrounding the door through which you enter is a fourteen foot granite saw blade - at one time, the largest operating blade in North America. They cut the void for the door out of the blade.

You walk through the door and into the reception room. The floor is laid with more Stanstead Grey. There is a large mural on the floor in front of the large circular reception desk. Overhead, supported by thick steel rods, is another saw blade almost ten feet across.

To the right rear, a four foot by eight foot panel of black granite that is vertical underseascape. There are dolphins on the top and all manners of fish swimming hither and yon. The fish at the bottom are in full color.

The original work of art was created by a New Zealand artist. Like the exterior photograph, this was created by the artisans at Picture This On Granite.

Welcome to the world of Stanstead granite.

Picture this in your head: in the large room directly behind the reception desk is a black square column that reaches floor to ceiling. On each of the four column faces is an operating fireplace. Each fireplace has a different decorative surround crafted of granite.

Opening onto this central fireplace room are other spaces promoting the use of granite.

There are four kitchens, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a quote unquote outside space with curbing, statuary, memorial, and sundry other uses of granite.

This is the commercial promotion heart of GEMS.

The granite museum is a not-for-profit component of the GEMS center. Some 25 tons of artifacts have been donated to the museum. It will operate year 'round.

According to Bourgon, the historical exhibit will be open to the public for a nominal fee. Highlights include demonstrations, workshops for kids, video presentation of the stone industry, and organized factory and quarry tours.

Stanstead has been a granite town for some 120 years. In recent years, the competition from overseas producers in India and Asia has become fierce.

Stanstead now has three active quarries, seventeen manufacturing plants, and six service companies. To date, ten of these have joined to create GEMS.

The founding companies include:

C.Rouleau Granite - Countertops & accessories
Picture This On Granite - High definition Laser Etching
Granite Design - Kitchen & Bathroom Countertops:
Lepitre Granite - Monuments & Memorials
Mosaïques D'Arcy - Custom Mosaics
Art Cubus - Architectural - Custom sculptures
Rock of Ages - Funeral & Construction
GranQuartz- Tools & Supplies
R.H.Rediker Transport - Granite Transport
Derusha Supply - Tools & Equipment
Ogden Tools - Equipment & Supplies

Now, in addition to all of this commercial granite promotion and the history of granite museum there is also a large meeting-trade show space that will hold one hundred people for any kind of business or private function, and a smaller conference room.

There is a complete attached kitchen to deal with food prepared by outside caterers.

Eventually, at the rear of the center, there will be a modest outside leisure area alongside the Tomifobia River.

So there you have it. Stanstead's new Granite Exposition of Museum. Coming your way -the promoters says - next month.