After being closed for two years due to renovations and the pandemic, Champlain Public Library staff and board members welcomed with a big smile a few members of the public, reporters and members of Champlain’s municipal administration and council on Monday, March 14, for the building’s official reopening.

In 1984, the Township took ownership of the building at 94 Main Street East, now known as the Champlain Public Library, originally built in 1856. Restoration work has been done over the years.

A building condition assessment study, submitted in 2019, concluded that several areas required repairs for restoration and safety purposes at a cost of more than $434,000. The municipal administration used the in-person suspension of services due to the pandemic to address the various issues identified in the 2019 engineering report.

Michelle Landriault, Chair of the Library Board, acknowledged the various people who made the reopening of the library possible during the opening ceremony.

“We are here today for two reasons – to give our sincere thanks, and to enthusiastically say  – welcome back,” Landriault said. “The Library Board thanks Mayor Riopel and Champlain Council –  for the investment in making updates to the infrastructure of the building; Public Works Director Sebastien Levesque, and Fire Chief Ghislain Pigeon – who kept the library up-to-date on various aspects of the construction project; Yvon Lepage – our skilled carpenter and handyman – for readying the library, and for being our troubleshooter; and to our dedicated library staff and Head Librarian Cynthia Martin who found ways to bring library services to our over 2,000 library patrons. ”

The staff were happy and cheerful as they opened their doors to the public.

“I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial,” Martin said. “I would like to thank the library staff. Their perseverance throughout all of this has been wonderful.”

“In a time when so much was shutting down, they focused on what we could do rather than what we could not. Thank you for your smiles even when we were all feeling the stress.”

Vankleek Hill Councillor Peter Barton and West Hawkesbury Councillor Gerry Miner were also present to mark the occasion.

“I’m very appreciative of all the hard work from staff, the Library Board and the Friends of the Library group,” Barton said. “I believe that a library is very important in a growing vibrant Community like ours.”

“I’m happy that we can continue to provide this service to our residents and look forward to what the future holds for the library.”

Mayor Normand Riopel, who had to be absent for personal reasons, still wanted to say a few words.

“Our library is a very important service to the community as a place of learning, growing and recreation for people of all ages,” the mayor said. “Access to all materials, media, computers, events and virtual programs is free for all Champlain residents.”

“The Library is continually introducing new programs and activities for their patrons, and I strongly recommend visiting the Library’s website regularly to learn more about the latest news from our creative librarian.”

The Champlain Public Library will be open Monday to Friday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the Champlain Library, visit www.bc-cl.ca or call 613 678-2216.

Champlain Library staff are thrilled that the library has reopened to the public. Left to right: Head Librarian Cynthia Martin, Anne Smith, Alicia Heinzle, Christiane Robillard and Shannon Bale. Photo: Reid Masson