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Issue: 28 April 2010
Title: PM Bennett's N.B. hometown to be recognized
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PM Bennett's N.B. hometown to be recognized

Commemorative centre opens in Hopewell Cape in June

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 11:23 AM AT

CBC News

The hometown of Canada's only New Brunswick-born prime minister will be officially recognized this summer, thanks to federal and provincial funding.

The Albert County Museum in Hopewell Cape, which has featured a small Richard Bedford Bennett collection, will be expanded with a new R.B. Bennett Commemorative Centre.

'When you really look at what the man did, he helped create the Canadian nation that we now enjoy.'

?John Boyko, Bennett biography author"The project saw almost all of our buildings refurbished so that they are in great condition now to be able to accept the public and show them all the aspects of Albert County history ? but most importantly, the story of R.B. Bennett, the only Canadian prime minister to come from New Brunswick," said Donald Alward, manager and curator of the museum.

"The main things that are new and exciting are the audio-visual pieces that we now have in place," he said. "We have a theatre, a 20-seat theatre, where we show a film we commissioned ? basically, a biography of R.B. Bennett."

Many accomplishments

Bennett was Canada's 11th prime minister, from 1930 to 1935, and until recently was generally considered a failure because he couldn't turn around the Great Depression.

He left office deeply unpopular and retired to England, where he died and was buried.

Bennett, a Conservative, is the only Canadian prime minister not buried in Canada and one of the few not remembered with a statue on Parliament Hill.

John Boyko, author of a new Bennett biography, contends Bennett doesn't deserve his poor reputation, considering he created the Bank of Canada, the CBC and the Canadian Wheat Board.

He also signed the Statute of Westminster, making the Canadian Parliament fully independent of Britain in its decisions.

"When you really look at what the man did, he helped create the Canadian nation that we now enjoy," Boyko said.

The new centre will be officially opened in June by former Liberal prime minister John Turner, whose mother worked for Bennett.

Bennett, the son of a shipbuilder, was also a teacher, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.