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 New Brunswick LadiesJune 15, 2013 - The Official Opening Ceremony of HRMNA   

On behalf of the Board of Directors of HRMNA I would like to congratulate Hugh and Suzanne Conrod for making their dream of a rug museum a reality - bravo to both of them!!

Late this morning a bus pulled into the museum's parking lot and out stepped a large group of rug hookers from New Brunswick along with two of our Directors At Large, Erin McKenna and Ruth Thompson.  Groups represented in this picture are the Carnegie Rug Hookers from Saint John, Sussex Tea Room Rug Hookers, Past Time Matters from Moncton and the Heritage Rug Hooking Guild of Fredericton.  The ladies had a great time exploring the Market Place and the museum before all the festivities started at 1:30, and were just a few of the 140 guest who filled the auditorium.


Many thanks to Linda Crowell, Director and Events Co-ordinator and her crew of hard working volunteers:  Linda Stewart, Brigitte Dean, Crystal Morash and Cheryl Schnare; also to photographer and museum volunteer Margot Janes.  Vacationing Director At Large Lauri Troutman and her friend Kathe Simons also helped with the food preparation and set-up before the opening.  Others to be thanked for making the day run smoothly are Director At Large Kerry Slaunwhite who worked the registration desk checking off guest names and handing out the information package; Director Peggy McDonald who was busy in the morning selling raffle tickets; Trevor Kramer, Dave Gowen, Dave Stewart and Lloyd McDonald who helped with the parking; Director Catherine Clute for organizing the cadets and town crier and for getting us all in to our assigned seats; Director Sherry Chandler for getting her friend Doug Dorken, the piper; Director Susan Lord for updating the website before, during and after the event; and new volunteer Marie Nemeth who manned the Market Place during the ceremony. 

We would also like to especially thank Director Sherry Chandler who did so much work  behind-the-scenes for weeks leading up to the Opening Ceremony.  Sherry handled piles of paperwork involved in processing all the gifts-in-kind and monetary gifts received from our many Directors At Large who attended or sent along items with others ... Mary Lou Justason, Barbara Barton, Jennifer Zamora, Erin McKinnon, Mamie Adair to name a few.  This was above and beyond her regular Treasurer and Market Place duties.  We would not be where we are today without Sherry on our team!!

And now on to the main event!  (Image Gallery of today's event is at the bottom of the page)


Chester Town Crier Garry Zwicker proclaimed the ceremony open and introduced Master of Ceremonies Pastor Bill Martin.

Emcee Pastor Bill Martin spoke about his past with Suzanne and Hugh as the first Chairman of the HRMNA.  He talked about their love, their drive and their determination in creating the museum and described them as "tenacious as a bull-dog on a pant leg".  Bill introduced Father Craig Christianson who gave the opening blessing.  Myra Freeman, Honorary Chair, spoke about the beauty of the artwork in the museum as "the work of golden hands" and our "rich maritime heritage".

Emcee Bill then introduced Suzanne Conrod who received a standing ovation and cheers from the room.  Suzanne told us how the idea of the museum began with her hooking friends in Florida.  Suzanne also spoke briefly of the people who could not be with us today and thanked the Yahoo Hookers (through an email from Phyllis Lindblade) for helping us raise the money required for the chairs that we were sitting on!  Money was also received from the Ontario Guild towards the chairs. 

The first plaques to be presented were for the two recipients recognized by the museum as the "Rug Hooker's of the Year".  Shirley Hiltz of New Ross, Nova Scotia received her plaque with much applause for her beautiful rugs that adorn the left-hand wall of the auditorium.  Sherry Chandler received the plaque for Michele Micarelli of New Haven, CT whose magnificant work that is hung on the right-hand wall.  Michele visited the museum in May to deliver he rugs and we hope to see her again in the fall!  Both of these hookers have created amazing artwork which will be displayed at the museum for the 2013 season.

Suzanne told us about the museum's 'Hands Across the Border' friendship with the many American Traditional Hooking Association guilds throughout the U.S., and our many Directors At Large who were instrumental in the building of the museum.  Plaques were presented to two ATHA members and Directors At Large, Stacey Van Dyne and Lauri Troutman. 

Director At Large Mary Lou Justason was presented with a plaque honouring the Ontario Rug Hooking Guild who have been a major supporter of the museum.  Contractor Don Le Blanc was presented with an Acadian Flag rug, hooked by volunteer Brigitte Dean, thanking him for all his work on the interior of the building as he went above and beyond the call of duty in fulfilling his contract.

Lynn McDonagh-Hughs fromTourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) spoke next and thanked the museum for "sharing our past and creating a legacy for the future" and the role that the museum would play in the tourism of Nova Scotia.  Additional recognition was also received from Jeanette Joudry from Destination Southwest Nova Association who presented Suzanne Conrod with the "Sustainable Tourism Award".

Suzanne presented Cameron Garrett with a plaque commemorating the Garrett Dynasty.  The Garrett rug designs have been instrumental in the building of the museum and are honoured with a Garrett Gallery and the Garrett Factory exhibit.

Suzanne presented the Noah's Ark plaque which was accepted by Directors At Large Jennifer Zamora and Barbara Barton.  Jennifer is the granddaughter of Noah's Ark creator Mary Sheppard Burton.  She was accompanied by her  family on the trip to Nova Scotia and said she was the only family member carrying on her grandmother's hooking tradition and that she "was honoured to be here to share this special day".

Emcee Bill said today was a day to mark on the calendar because Hugh was sitting quietly .... and he described Hugh as "a man of many words".  Founder Hugh Conrod took the podium with much applause and a standing ovation.  He claimed he has set a world record in that he has "kissed more hookers than any man in the world". 

Hugh spoke about how far we have come and gave credit to the 50 senior aged rug hookers of Nova Scotia who had participated in the Aging Incentives program which was supported by Hon Denise Peterson Rafusesʼ Department of Seniors and which has helped the Museum become financially sustainable through cottage industry job creation.

He praised the Secretariat of War 1812/14 commemoration grant (Government of Canada Department of Heritage) approved by Minister James Moore, for helping mount the exhibit honoring southern Nova Scotia pioneer women who were among the earliest rug hookers despite disruption of their cottage garden crops by privateer raiders. It also permitted publication of a Museum research publication titled “LEGACY” which depicted, in hooked rugs, a number of privateer raids on southern Nova Scotia communities and the womenʼs defense of same.

Suzanne and Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse cut the ribbon held by Pastor Bill Martin and Hugh Conrod in the dedication to the unsung heroines of North America during the War of 1812/14, officially opening the Founders' Gallery.  During this time over 30,000 immigrants from the U.S. colonies cam to Nova Scotia.  Hugh mentioned that the next issue of The Legacy would be about "rug art grown from seed" as the many fibres grown from seed were spun and then hooked into rugs throughout the years.  He also spoke about the four year program that is being pursued to create the "gardens of rug hooking" for future landscaping of the museum property.

The Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse closed the ceremony with a thank you Suzanne and Hugh and the museum for "bringing history to the present and creating a better future for Nova Scotia".  "The Conrods, the community, and the volunteers have brought here to us the first world museum honouring the craft of rug hooking."

Refreshments and fellowship followed the official opening ceremony and many guests hurried to view the beautiful rugs in the Founders' Gallery.


Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery