Nanaimo businesses chip in to help rebuild community library

NANAIMO – Popular community bookcase burned in suspicious fire.

Sam Blackstaffe

Local companies have stepped up to write a new chapter in an ongoing story of a community bookcase heavily damaged by a suspicious fire.


Cheryl Ward, her husband Harry, and sister Carolynne Sacht, who created a popular community bookcase at the corner of Pine and Campbell streets, only to see it burned by a suspicious fire Jan. 20, thought they might wait a while before replacing it – if ever.


They found out how much the bookcase meant to the neighbourhood, though, when they came home last week to find a truck blocking their driveway, people cleaning up the mess left by the fire and loading the cabinet’s charred remains into a truck.


“Just the night before we talked about what we were going to do and talked about rebuilding the whole unit,” Harry Ward said.


Staff from Pheasant Hill Homes, who had been working on a heritage home nearby, were the people picking up the cabinet.


“We were around this neighbourhood constantly and were very familiar with the library,” said Heather Prencipe, of Pheasant Hill. “Our clients saw this happen, which is right close to their house and asked, would you be willing to rebuild the library?”


The company is donating all labour and materials to rebuild the cabinet, which is nearing completion.


On Wednesday, carpenter Sam Blackstaffe took measurements to have leaded glass panes made for the bookcase’s doors.


Cheeky Monkey Glassworks is also donating labour and materials to recreate the glass door panes.


The goal is to combine salvaged materials with new ones to replicate the original cabinet as closely as possible.


“We’re not trying to make something new and fancy, because that cabinet did have history with [Cheryl’s] family,” Prencipe said.


The Wards and Sacht now plan to add a smaller children’s bookcase to the site as well.


“It was a huge surprise,” Harry said.