The Friends of the Farmer’s Bank of Rustico Inc. is made up of volunteers who work year-round to ensure the viability of this National Historic Site. Board tasks include fundraising, grant preparation, facility maintenance, care and attention to exhibitions, recruiting new volunteers, and accessing new artifacts.
The objectives of the organizations are very clear: to sustain the museum for generations to come; to preserve the Acadian culture in the local community; to work with other like-minded organizations including on the board of directors for Acadie Î.-P.-É.; and to provide a bilingual work experience for summer students that is challenging, knowledge-oriented, experiential, and that promotes personal growth.
The Farmer’s Band of Rustico was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1959, and at the same time Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt was declared a person of National Historic Significance. It has been owned and operated by the Friends of the Farmer’s Bank of Rustico Incorporated / Les amis des Banque des fermiers Inc. since 1996. The Doucet Log House was acquired by the Friends in 1999 when the owner decided to demolish it to prepare the site for a new house he intended to build. To prevent it from being demolished, the Friends had it moved to a location adjacent to the Farmer’s Bank and began restoring it in 2003. The Farmers Bank and Doucet House are iconic examples of Acadian history and culture on Prince Edward Island from our historic buildings to our heritage gardens. The museums are open from mid-June to mid-September and on special occasions through-out the year. The history of the Farmers Bank of Rustico is unique, begun as a true bank to support the financial needs of the Acadian farmers and fishermen in the local community. The Bank’s founder, Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt, a Jesuit Priest and missionary, was a visionary leader, defender of human rights, and worked tirelessly on help the Acadians. While in Rustico he established the Catholic Institute, promoting self-help ideas for parishioners; created the Farmers Bank of Rustico, the precursor to the Credit Union movement in North America; he created a “Model School” to educate young men who became teachers, a lawyer, and a doctor; established the first free public library on the Island; and formed a brass band that rivaled the best in Charlottetown. His hard work and dedication helped the Acadians to empower and lift themselves from poverty.
In 2022, as part of the 250th anniversary of the 1772 Doucet Log House we offered an increased experiential food program and traditional Acadian meals in the Doucet House, the oldest house on Prince Edward Island. We also developed and carried-out a successful Festival “Meat Pie” in the six Acadian regions across the Island to further promote the rich Acadian culture.
We restored the former St. Augustine’s Credit Union Building, located 1 km from our main museum, where we’ll have a Welcome Center and satellite museum, as well as promoting the Acadian heritage of our area and the other five Acadian regions on the Island, and small gift shop.
Between 2021-2023 with the support of various federal and provincial funding agencies we carried-out restoration work to the Farmers Bank Museum, the Doucet House and make the site accessible; built a new demonstration and interpretation building to allow us to extend our food offering to tours and larger groups; and restore the former St. Augustine Credit Union Building.