A cultural music and dance organization is looking to make St. Joseph Island its permanent home.
AlgomaTrad, which stands for Traditional Music and Dance Group, is wanting to put an all-year round facility on a 50-acre site it acquired in 2016.
"The whole idea is that we've been doing programming in the area for seventeen years," said Pat O'Gorman, co-founder of AlgomaTrad. "We wanted a year-round centre, to carry out the programming and to carry out even more programming."
The majority of that programming has been done at a rented venue of some sort, whether it be for workshops, concerts or festivals.
O'Gorman said there have even been occasions where he had to setup workshops in his own home. But after acquiring the land, the group was able secure funding to build a pavilion on it, allowing it to host its own events throughout the warmer months.
"The colder weather is what made things difficult for us," said Julie Schryer, a co-founder. "Every year, we try to have our fall heritage arts festival at the site, it was very, very challenging."
The plan is to build a new, all-season timber frame performance hall to replace an existing barn, renovate and winterize the existing dining hall on the site and various other infrastructure work that is also needed.
The project is estimated to cost around $3 million, with the group hoping to leverage $2.5 million of from the province.
"Having something like this so close to home will be amazing," said Christina Foster, a local musician. "We play in bars and things like that in Sault Ste. Marie and we love doing that, but the times we've played for Julie and Pat…the audience is just a different kind of audience."
Foster, who is also a teacher, said the thought of a permanent facility is exciting when it comes to the opportunities it will create for her students.
"To experience different kinds of music, including tribe music throughout the year," she said. "When a lot of the stuff happens in the summer time, we can't access that right, our students can't access that."
AlgomaTrad is currently trying to raise $300,000 through its 'AlgomaTrad Grows' campaign.
O'Gorman said there's no timeline on construction, as it continues to try to secure funding from the government.