River John school

Auctioneer Karan Sidhu sits on one of the motorcycles donated for the fundraising auction in support of the old school in River John.

(Goodwin photo)

Supporters of a former school in River John came out in force recently for a fundraising auction.

More than 100 items, some smaller and other larger ones that included motorcycles and boats, were offered in an effort to raise part of the funds needed for roof work.

“They were all donated, pretty much,” said Shelley Bigney, who, with Jennifer Langille, got bidders signed in for the event.

Karan Sidhu, another supporter, acted as auctioneer. He said after the auction that proceeds totalled $3,246.

“It was a lot of work but we’re absolutely happy with that,” he said. “We raised money for the community but we had fun doing it.”

Sidhu has donated proceeds from events at the school that include stand-up comic routines, music and film productions since he joined the River John and area community in February.

“I take zero dollars from every event,” he said. “River John has been amazing to me.”

Sidhu estimated $120,000 would be needed for the roof work.

“We’re just about there,” he said.

“Certain parts can be repaired but the roof over the gymnasium has to be completely torn out.”

Nick Bigney bought the former Primary to Grade 9 school, which has served a variety of purposes since it closed. However, his parents Leonard and Shelley are an important part of the operation.

Roof repairs represented a major challenge when the school was operating.

Sidhu outlined some of the events and programs at the former school that include the gymnasium opening for use in December, comedy shows and space donated for public health events. A Christmas craft sale is also being planned.

He highlighted the Rock the Field concert that took place last summer on the field behind the school.

“We’re doing this for a reason, to turn this into the event destination in Pictou County,” he said.


Steve Goodwin is never without his camera and a notebook. He has been covering news and sports in Pictou County for more than four decades.