Coming Home to Burlington

Rudy Norman
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Town celebrates Come Home Year by recognizing heritage

It was a week of celebrations that came together over the span of nearly three years of planning, fundraising and finalizing.

Burlington Come Home Year 2013 happened on July 29-August 4 and saw an influx of people to the community to help celebrate the festivities.

Shaun Majumder grabs a photo of Bessie Marie Stuckless – the namesake of the Bessie Marie Schooner, and the special guest for Burlington’s Come Home Year Celebrations. Ms. Stuckless spoke at the Opening Ceremonies and told the stories about her youth and the times she had with “The Bessie.”

This was the first CHY celebration the town has had since 1995, and while that one was a huge success, Mayor George Kelly says this year's was significant as well.

"This year we had Come Home Year to celebrate 60 years of incorporation for our town as a municipality, and 30 years of our volunteer fire department," he said. "There aren't many towns our size that can say that, but we're proud of what has been accomplished here in Burlington."

The week started on Monday with registration for those who made the trek home followed by a parade, opening ceremonies, a meet and greet and a concert by Newfoundland and Labrador musicians Bugs and Debbie Greene.

"It was great seeing everyone home," said Mayor Kelly. "Some people that were here haven't been home in several years - a lot has changed since the last time they were in Burlington, and it was good that they got home to see everything that's going on now."

On Monday, during the opening ceremonies, the town recognized their special guest and Patron of their festivities, Bessie Marie Stuckless.

Burlington's history is steeped deep into the shipbuilding of yester-year, with the Mills' operation once a driving force in the North American Shipbuilding industry.

"We still call the area of town where the ships were built, Mills' Cove," explained the mayor. "That's because that family is so known with that area, and that cove - a lot of activity went on down there one time."

Over the years of their operation, the Mills' built a number of schooners. Most famously, perhaps, they built the Bessie Marie, for the Ashbourne Company out of Twillingate.

"The Bessie Marie Schooner was the last three mast schooner built in Newfoundland," said Mayor Kelly. "It's a big part of our heritage here, and was sort of the logo for the week as well."

To recognize the history the town has with the shipbuilding industry, and the Bessie Marie Schooner, the namesake of the ship was invited to be special guest at the opening ceremonies.

Bessie Stuckless was the granddaughter of the original owner of "The Bessie." She was born just as the ship was being built, and it was brought into Twillingate on her first birthday.

"It was an honour to have Ms. Stuckless here," said Mayor Kelly. "Her stories and humour were wonderful, and it was a real treat to take her back to Mills' Cove for the first time to see the birthplace of the ship she was named after."

For the rest of the week, the town saw a jam-packed schedule. Many events featured hometown celebrities Shaun Majumder and Rex Goudie, as well as a number of other special guests.

Tuesday had a family concert, Wednesday had a celebration of the town's milestones, Thursday a Road Hockey Tournament and a Gospel Concert, Friday was a kid's show and outdoor dance, and Saturday, despite the weather saw a number of activities for the kids.

"Thanks to everyone who made it a great week," said Mayor Kelly. "Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and I think this is a great boost for the town."


Organizations: Ashbourne Company

Geographic location: Burlington, Newfoundland and Labrador, Twillingate

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