PELLY - On Aug. 12, the Fort Pelly Livingstone Museum in Pelly, welcomed visitors to a family-oriented celebration. A central attraction of the event was a petting zoo, accompanied by various other activities such as the baking and sale of heritage bread loaves, crafted on-site using a clay oven.
Gerry Nahnybida, co-chair of the museum board, characterized the event as multifaceted. Its objectives encompassed extending a warm welcome to both returning and new museum visitors, raising funds to support its promotion, maintenance and operation, and upholding the longstanding tradition of recognizing community heritage through the involvement of local volunteers.
The occasion also provided an opportunity to test recent structural enhancements in the museum's facilities. Notably, the newly installed heating and air conditioning system, realized through a grant from the Farm Credit Corporation, aimed to extend the museum's operating hours and ensure the preservation of artifacts sensitive to environmental factors, whether owned by the museum or borrowed from other museums.
"We are very thankful to the organizations and local landowners who have assisted us financially over the past few years, helping us purchase the new museum building, develop displays, and complete planned construction and periodic maintenance," said Nahnybida.
The core focus of the Fort Pelly Livingstone Museum remains the commemoration of Fort Pelly and Fort Livingstone, both designated as National Historic Sites of great significance by Parks Canada. Fort Livingstone, which initially served as the government seat of the North West Territories and the controversial initial barracks of the North West Mounted Police, and Fort Pelly, a prominent Hudson Bay Company fur trading outpost, bear witness to a substantial period of colonial and Canadian history, as well as interrelations with local First Nations.
The museum's galleries pay homage to these colonial fur traders, law enforcement figures, and the area's First Nations. The exhibitions also encompass information pertaining to subsequent local developments following confederation, featuring multiple displays highlighting pivotal events and figures in the history of the Pelly village.
Recalling the unfortunate 2015 fire that razed the former museum location and resulted in the loss of various priceless artifacts, the museum has since relocated to its present venue, formerly the Pelly RCMP barracks at 401 Third Ave South.
The day's activities commenced early, with the initiation of the clay oven to bake numerous bread loaves. Ultimately, over 70 loaves of brown, rye, and white bread were prepared and offered for sale. As the event progressed and the 2 p.m. opening neared, Merv Abrahamson, a dedicated museum volunteer, readied a Model T for guest rides.
The petting zoo featured a collection of animals courtesy of Sanchal Bjerland and her family, local farmers from Hudson Bay. Transitioning from farm tours to a mobile zoo at the museum, the Bjerland family delighted attendees with a variety of farm animals.
The occasion also included guided tours of the museum and associated Pelly heritage sites such as the old train station and Anglican Church, conducted by volunteer board members. Lunch was made available for purchase to the approximately 60 guests in attendance.
The museum extends an invitation to readers to explore its exhibits. Presently, the museum operates seasonally on Thursday and Friday afternoons.