The Farmers’ Bank of Rustico is a building of national importance, an important monument of P.E.I. architecture as well as a symbol of Acadian survival. The Bank operated from 1864 to 1894 and was an important link in the establishment of “Les Caisses populaires” in Quebec and “Credit Unions” in the rest of Canada.
The building is a legacy of an extraordinary person, Reverend Georges-Antoine Belcourt, parish priest of Rustico from 1859 to 1869. On arriving in Rustico, he noted the lack of education and the extreme economic hardships of the inhabitants. He organized the “Catholic Institute” with over 250 members. Meetings and study clubs resulted in the establishment of the Bank which provided loans to farmers at reasonable rates of interest. The Bank operated for thirty years but was forced to close its doors as a result of the passage of the Bank Act in 1871.
Father Belcourt and his parishioners constructed a building sixty by forty feet in dimensions. The building was of frame construction covered on all sides with sandstone. It was a very imposing structure and built to denote the strength and solidity deserving of a bank. It served as a Parish Hall for many years and is now used as a Museum to commemorate the work accomplished by Father Belcourt during his stay in Rustico.
As one of the most historic buildings on P.E.I., the Doucet House is certainly the oldest house in the Rustico area and quite possibly in the whole province.
The house was originally situated on Grand-Père Point (Cymbria) and was continually inhabited by descendants of Doucet families until 1982 when it was acquired by John Langdale who used it as a summer residence. When the latter decided to build a new home on the site, he stated his intention to either demolish it or give it to a person or party who would move it to another site. The Friends of the Farmers’ Bank accepted the offer and the house was moved to a site adjacent to the Bank in December 1999. The house had originally been used on occasion as a place of worship at a time when there was no church or other suitable building available in the early days of the colony. The house has been fully restored and contains many items of period antique furnishings.