Cap-Egmont — Earlier this week a bored and bankrupt Prince Edward Island man traipsed onto the private property of the famous bottle houses in Cap-Egmont, P.E.I. — which have been standing since 1980 when Edouard Arsenault built the first one — to tear it all down and return the bottles to the recycling depot.
“I’ve been out of work for a while what with COVID. I was drinkin’ a lot, yes, but not enough to keep a roof over my head,” explained the culprit, Jerry Gallant, 51. “I thought I’d make a killing but with all them bottles all’s I made was about $40.75. Empties aren’t as lucrative as they once were.”
Gallant said a recent CBC story profiling the bottle houses’ 40th anniversary alerted him to their existence.
“I knew there was some kinda bottle thingy there that New Brunswickers and Scotians would tour in the summer, but I didn’t know till then that there was a chapel, a tavern, a whole little bottle village! Now, I can’t be the only one who thought it was a waste of perfectly good change, just sitting there collecting dust.”
Stella McNeil was working at the depot at the time Gallant hauled the bottles in to exchange.
“He pulled up here in a pickup, looking a little too excited for the circumstances,” she recalled. “I think he believed he had his retirement there in those garbage bags. But I didn’t think much more of it — just did the usual, started sorting the bottles. He got all mad at me, though, when I handed him his cash — said it amounted to highway robbery.
“Rich coming from an actual thief, eh?!”
He has been charged with destruction of private property and was ordered to carry out 500 hours of community service. Gallant, however, is confident he can rebuild the houses himself in far fewer than his 500 hours.
“I remember what bottles went where — I think if I spend the next couple weekends I can restore them to their former glory, no problem. Can’t be that hard. And if not I’ll just return the cash.”