The Farmers' Bank of Rustico is a two-and-one-half storey Prince Edward Island sandstone building with a slate roof in the British Classical architectural style.
Why is this place important?
The Farmers' Bank of Rustico is valued for its age, construction materials and method, its integrity of original architectural elements, and its historical associations.
Construction of the Farmers' Bank of Rustico began in 1861 and was completed in 1864. Built of Prince Edward Island sandstone, quarried locally from Rustico and St. Ann's, seventeen different cuts in the stones suggest that numerous people worked on the construction of this building. Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt (1803-1874), the parish priest for the Acadian community of Rustico between 1859 and 1869, designed and supervised the construction of the building. Belcourt was a dynamic community leader who encouraged education through his lending library and the establishment of a Catholic Institute with a membership of 250. This study group's meetings led to the establishment of a bank to provide loans at a reasonable rate of interest to farmers. The Farmers' Bank or people's bank was a precursor to credit unions and inspired the later caisse populaire movement in Quebec. The Bank issued its own currency and was in operation for approximately 30 years until it wound up operations in 1894. In 1959 the Farmers' Bank was declared a national historic site, and in the same year Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt was designated a person of national historic significance and a commemorative plaque was placed at the Bank in 1971. Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt ministered to the community of Rustico following several years of missionary work at Red River, Manitoba and North Dakota.
The building has been used as a community centre for many years, serving as a bank, parish hall, meeting and social place, and a museum. In 1993, the Friends of the Farmers' Bank was established to advocate for its importance and restoration. In 1998 the group acquired the property. Following extensive work to the building during the 1990s, the Bank has been restored to its full glory. The Farmers' Bank of Rustico continues to operate seasonally as a museum under the direction of the Friends of the Farmers' Bank of Rustico.
Valued for its architecture and significance to the social and economic history of its community, the province and the country, its associations with the Acadian community and Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt, the Farmers' Bank of Rustico continues to be an important landmark in its community and province.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File #: 4320-20/F1
The heritage value of the building is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the two-and-one-half storey massing
- the Prince Edward Island sandstone construction
- the medium-pitched gable roof, clad in slate
- the eaves
- the chimneys incorporated into the gable-end walls
- the placement of the doors
- the symmetrical placement of the windows
- the series of regularly placed multi-paned windows on each elevation
- the square vault projecting from the west wall
- the string courses of projecting sandstone under the windows of the first and second storeys