Juniper is a small town in Central New Brunswick, located at the headwaters of the famous Miramichi River is home to approximately 400 residents. A favorite of snowmobile, ATV, fishing, and hunting enthusiasts, the beautiful scenery has drawn generations of visitors.
The Juniper Community Centre is at the heart of this rural community in the woods. It is the one-stop shop for gatherings and visitor needs. Nine people on the Broad of Directors and 20 dedicated volunteers are the amazing ambassadors and the energetic spirit that brings everyone together. They host a variety of events and currently offer home cooked meals on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There is a second-hand store for clothing and knick-knacks; a history room, a free lending library, a walking trail and playground as well as a fitness room with equipment and catering services.
Barb Somerville, one of nine board of directors, has called Juniper home for over 40 years. “For me personally, the centre has been very uplifting and a wonderful place to get to know my neighbors better. I think it’s remarkable what a small group of people can do,” says Somerville. “The hours, the efforts and the love that they have put into this centre really shows the love they have for their community.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the centre was forced to close in March and was not able to reopen until August. Barb credits bring back the centre to the the amazing volunteers were willing to ensure safety and cleanliness as the top priority.
“We kept in touch through our Facebook page, reassuring people that we would open again when we could. We tested the waters by opening to serve meals and limited hours in our store, but we have yet to feel comfortable with holding any large group events. We will continue to follow the protocols recommended by the province”, says Barb.
On October 9th, a small event was held at the Centre hosting many of the volunteers, elected representatives and employees of J.D. Irving, Limited. During this event, the team at Irving Woodlands was pleased to present a cheque for $5,000 to the Community Centre, to help make changes to the front entrance by making it more energy-efficient and accessible. The funding will see the installation of insulated doors and a stair lift to make the centre more accessible to the main floor.
For generations, Juniper has also played a vital role in the province’s forestry industry. It is where millions of tree seedlings begin as future forests in New Brunswick, Maine and Nova Scotia. It is a tradition that has grown since the 1960's. Today, approximately 40 people are at work in the tree nursery and Juniper Organics which serves the horticultural and gardening industry.
Jason Killam, Chief Forester with Irving Woodlands explained that the community centre helps keeps families in the community and attracts new employees to the area. “It’s amazing to see such great effort put into the centre. The work of these volunteers means so much to the community. We’re pleased to help in any way we can.”
Interested in learning more about the Juniper Community Centre? Visit their Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/JCC506