Espace mémoire

MRC du Granit Before July 6, 2013

The former owner of the 5086, rue Frontenac, MRC du Granit was located in both stories above the library. During the 2013 tragedy, all of the realty assessment records burnt down.

The MRC had to reassess all the properties of the whole territory, a huge task that took three years. All the original copies of archive material were lost as well: minutes, intermunicipal and government agreements.

A copy of the vast majority of those documents could be retrieved with the collaboration of the community partners and the government.

The Municipal Library Before July 6, 2013

During the July 6, 2013 railway tragedy, the library, at the time standing next to Musi-Café, was entirely destroyed. It was located on the first floor of 5 086, rue Frontenac, owned by the MRC du Granit. In addition to the loss of the physical building, all the documents burnt down. The library contained at the time 56,490 books, DVDs, CDs and magazines. Data such as titles and author names were lost as well, plus the 2,592 members records.

A collection of old pictures of the town, unique copies for most of them, as well as the art rental gallery composed of 45 pieces of art including several original pieces from local artists and a number of reproductions from renowned artists, went up in smoke.

Derailment of July 6, 2013

On July 5, 2013, a train composed of five locomotives and 72 DOT-111 wagons containing 6 million liters of light shale crude oil was parked on the main track in Nantes. Left unattended, the train ran down the slope on 10 kilometers and derailed near the downtown of Lac-Mégantic at 1:14 a.m. in the night of July 5 to July 6, 2013. Sixty-three wagons containing 5.6 million liters of light crude oil exploded.

The majority of the oil burnt. A part of it spilt out in the Mégantic Lake and in the Chaudière River. A few hundreds of thousands litres of oil infiltrated the soil and the municipal sewer system.

This disaster killed 47 people and destroyed buildings located on 32 different pieces of lands, including businesses and homes. More than 2,000 people were evacuated at the time.

Over 130 firefighting units provided additional support to the fire department of Lac-Mégantic. 

The fire was put out after 30 hours but firefighters had to keep dousing for several days in order to prevent the temperature from rising again and fire to reignite.

Source: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Photo: Éric Beaupré

Espace Mémoire, a Citizen Approach

Lac-Mégantic is sadly notorious for this tragedy that killed 47 people, shocked an entire community and totally destroyed the heart of this 6,000-person town. On the field, the community keeps getting involved in the rebuilding and revival project of Lac-Mégantic. This results in many actions, including the creation of the Espace mémoire.

A working committee including citizens, first responders and grieving families' spokespersons was formed to genuinely define what Espace mémoire should become: a memorial site that will sit on the former Musi-Café location. Members of the committee paved the way based on the citizen participation approach and testimonies from the population.
Greatly involved in the process, the committee aims for the following objectives concerning this space:

A space for citizens first, that calls out to newcomers and visitors with respect;
A landmark in the town in order to remember the events, that encourages meditation and serenity, like a cocoon or a shelter in town;
A place that eases meetings and exchanges;
A gathering place that is easily accessible for everyone;
A simple place to the scale of Lac-Mégantic that will inspire life and resilience;
A place that is a true image of the region and that reminds key elements: water, nature, trees and stars;
A living place that is vibrant and visible at night;
A permanent structure that is written in the continuity of the Génération's Park with minimal maintenance needed; and
A place free of advertisement. 

Les Ateliers Pierre Thibault were commissioned to create the Espace mémoire. The work is in progress.

Photo: L’Écho de Frontenac (Espace mémoire committee)



Excerpt of
The Star Walker | Lac-Mégantic’s Tourist Tour

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