Saving St. Croix history one board at a time

Ashley Thompson
Published on November 7, 2012

A local company is pulling apart an old warehouse in St. Croix board by board in an effort to make the most of what’s left of it.

Al Paton, the owner of Nova Dismantling in Belmont, says local history buffs have told him the three-storey warehouse, which sits across from Minas Basin Pulp and Power’s hydroelectric station on the bank of St. Croix River, dates back to the 1870s.

Paton believes the historic building first functioned as a woolen mill, eventually became a place to dry tobacco and was ultimately retired as a poultry production facility founded by Bob Oulton after the Second World War.

“It’s got a really good history,” he said.

Although he’s been tasked with tearing the abandoned structure down, Paton says dismantling is not to be confused with demolishing.

“We want to take our time and save — no crashing, no excavators, no heavy equipment because that can be done in two days and then you’ve got nothing left but a mess,” Paton said.

“There’s a love for the old heritage board and timber.”

His objective is to carefully, and slowly, dismantle the weathered building with a small crew, and resell the salvageable materials.

“There’s hundreds of beams and 10,000 square feet of flooring,” he said, noting that old wood is well sought after.

Nova Dismantling started working at the warehouse a little more than two weeks ago. Paton says he’s yet to find any hidden treasures, but he’s not ruling it out.

“We’re hoping to find something… you always find stuff stashed in the walls, usually old rum bottles.”

Ready-to-sell materials will be stacked on the property as the job progresses.

“There’s just an oodle of really good material in there.”

He says it’s a good way to obtain affordable lumber that has “the colour and the look that only comes with age.”

And, it’s a nice way to ensure a part of St. Croix’s history is preserved in some small way.

“Everyone’s gonna get a piece of this history.”