CHAMCOOK (GNB) – The provincial and federal governments are investing $1.47 million this year in a new vision to develop Ministers Island into a world-class tourist destination.

The funding will help complete the restoration of the island’s historic barn. Ministers Island is operated by an organization known as the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island Inc. Restoring the barn is part of a three-phase business plan announced last month.

“Tourism is a key part of your government’s economic vision,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister John Ames. “Investing in Ministers Island is part of our strategy to create an integrated world-class Fundy Coast experience. That will create jobs and increase tourism to our province, the Bay of Fundy area, and our nation’s premier seaside resort town of Saint Andrews.”

The barn was designed and constructed in 1899 by Montreal architect Edward Maxwell, who was known throughout North America for his distinct style. He also designed the McAdam Railway Station and several homes in Saint Andrews.

The tourism vision involves opening the barn to the public to help tell the story of Sir William Van Horne, the builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who made the island his summer home. With additional renovations, the barn could also be used as a space for heritage programming, artisan workshops, performing arts and community events.

“Our government has taken a leadership role in the protection and promotion of the region's invaluable and irreplaceable heritage, such as the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island,” said New Brunswick Southwest MP Karen Ludwig. “This investment is another important development in the long-term vision for Ministers Island, making it a cultural tourism experience on the Bay of Fundy that will create jobs, small business opportunities and economic growth.”

Ludwig attended for federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, who is also the minister responsible for Parks Canada.

“The livestock barn reflects the importance Van Horne attached to both architecture and agriculture,” said Brian Usher, board chair of Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island Inc. “With its significant architectural detail, it presents visitors with a striking visual impact upon entry to the Heritage Park. Under its Dutch gable roof, the hayloft is vast and constructed of massive timber trusses that reflect the shipbuilding traditions of New Brunswick craftsmen. Once stairs and handrails are installed, the public will have access to view the unique cathedral-like timber arch construction. Our hope is that eventually this feature of the barn can be developed as a performance area for a wide range of cultural, heritage and arts events.”

To complete the renovations, the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and Parks Canada are each contributing $735,000. Previous investments to preserve and restore the silos, repair flooring and replace windows in the barn included $250,000 from the provincial government; the federal government invested $239,309 and Parks Canada contributed $100,000.

The business plan for Ministers Island proposes restoring elements of the Edwardian era, as well as adding modern carriage house chalets to allow for overnight stays, the hosting of special events such as weddings and meetings, and the creation of beach access, docking facilities and walking and cycling trails.

The tourism industry employs more than 42,000 people in New Brunswick and contributes more than $520 million annually to the provincial GDP. For every public dollar invested in promoting New Brunswick as a tourism destination, there is an estimated return of $3.19 to the province. The budget for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture increased by 17.6 per cent this year.