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New Visitor Centre at Bethune Memorial House Receives a Hero's Welcome
Gravenhurst, Ontario, July 11, 2012 -- On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, Minister for FedNor and Member of Parliament for Parry Sound - Muskoka, today officially opened new visitor facilities at Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site.
Dr. Norman Bethune (1890-1939) was officially recognised as a person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada in 1972. Owing to his medical accomplishments and humanitarian work Bethune also remains a celebrated individual by citizens of the People's Republic of China and Spain. His birthplace in Gravenhurst, Ontario, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and is operated by Parks Canada. In 2009, the Harper Government allocated $2.5 million for the development of new visitor facilities to provide a better experience for the increasing number of visitors to Bethune Memorial House.
"Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site has long been a symbol of the friendship that exists between Canada and China," said Minister Clement. "Through the contribution of partners and the Government of Canada, this National Historic Site is now also a centre for active discussion and debate, a place for quiet reflection on the values that inspired Dr. Bethune."
Dr. Bethune is most famous for his humanitarian actions during the last two years of his life in China where he served as a surgeon and teacher. Generations after his death, his story continues to be taught as an example of selfless humanitarianism to millions of Chinese students. Three delegations traveled from China to participate in today's official opening ceremonies.
Just 90 minutes from Toronto, Bethune Memorial House is a vibrant destination that welcomes over 80 Chinese business and government delegations per year, and almost 1,000 visitors a day during peak times.
"The Government of Canada, through the Parks Canada Agency, is committed to telling the stories of nationally significant Canadians, such as Dr. Norman Bethune," said Minister Clement. "This site, this house, serves as an emblem of Dr. Bethune's legacy and is representative of Canadian values and the Canadian spirit."
Parks Canada manages a nationwide network of national historic sites that commemorate persons, places and events that have shaped Canada's history and which offer visitors the opportunity for real, inspiring discovery. Parks Canada works to ensure that Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and presented for the enjoyment, education, appreciation and inspired discovery of Canadians and international visitors, today and in the future.
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the Treasury Board
External Relations Manager
Parks Canada Central Ontario Field Unit