Readers young and old gathered in grand celebration on September 16, huddled around what appeared to be the house of a well-read doll. Rather, it was the opening of the Gore Brothers Book House in Garrison Crossing.
The Book House is part of the Little Free Library (LFL) community. The premise is simple: take a book, return a book. These compact, handcrafted structures are a great way to encourage a love of reading and sharing in a community, and a unique avenue to meet your neighbours.
Little Free Libraries have popped up all over the world, and local mom Daris LaPointe wanted to bring something similar to her community.
“What they promote is wonderful, and I thought it would be great to have one in front of my house, or in a park nearby,” LaPointe explained.
As of January 2015, LittleFreeLibrary.org estimates that there are nearly 25,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide.
LaPointe and her daughter Fintry approached the City of Chilliwack, the local rotary clubs and Garrison Crossing developers, the Gore Brothers, to see what could be done.
When LaPointe asked the Gore Brothers for a price, they graciously offered to build and donate the miniature house for free.
With permit and placement approval from the city, the adorable library has been installed in Chehalis Park, central to the neighbourhood.
Built and painted by Gore Brothers employees Tonny Cormier and Crystal Poe, the to-scale replica is a model of a home that the Gore Brothers built in Garrison Crossing, 45297 Soowahlie Crescent.
The only difference between the model and the life-size home, “is that the actual home doesn’t have a giant door in the side of it,” Gore Brothers site foreman, Gerry de Vries explained.
“And you can’t just open it up and take books!” LaPointe added.
The former community of military housing started to transform in 2004 as Canada Lands Company began redeveloping the old CFB Chilliwack. Fourth-generation Chilliwack residents, Mark, Tony and Lee Gore decided to be part of the challenge.
It was their first time renovating an entire community, but the Gore Brothers knew how important it was to maintain the character of the post-war homes, and the memories of the families who once lived there.
Tony Gore explained that each home “had a time capsule of treasures” within the walls, much like the Book House will contain treasured memories of children reading with their families.
Now that the beautiful community is complete, right down to the last ‘home’ that sits in the park, the Gore Brothers gave a bittersweet farewell. “We have to say ‘so long’ and move on to our next project, but it’s been great being your neighbour for eleven years,” said de Vries.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz inaugurated the little library by reading Dr. Suess’ What Pet Should I Get? to the big crowd of enthusiastic little listeners.
LaPointe expressed her appreciation by presenting Mayor Gaetz and the Gore Brothers with a celebratory plaque, gratefully acknowledging their support and generosity to encourage literacy in the community.
Neighbours crowded together to watch as their kids cut the red ribbon, opening the library.
It didn’t take long to see that the actions of LaPointe, the city, and the Gore Brothers will be put to good use, as books already began flying in and out of the little library.