Arson is believed to have been responsible for the fi re which destroyed the Fort Pelly-Livingstone Museum.
At 3:13 p.m. on June 13, the Kamsack RCMP were called to a fire at the museum, said a release from the Kamsack RCMP. The fire brigades at Pelly and Norquay were dispatched to combat the blaze.
No one was injured in the fire however the museum building and the adjacent train boxcar were destroyed, the release said. The fire is believed to have been deliberately set.
The matter is still under investigation, it said. Persons with any information regarding the incident are asked to contact the Kamsack RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
Members of the museum’s board of directors gathered around in a circle on June 15, said a release from the board. “All of us just sat and looked at each other. Everyone just seemed to be in a state of shock and no one knew how to start.
“How does one start a board meeting after you have just lost a part of who you are and who the community is, and reaching further, to understand what Saskatchewan and Canada has lost?
“We realize communities have a high regard for their museums and rightly so, Arson said cause of Pelly museum’s destruction but quite honestly the Fort Pelly-Livingstone Museum
stood out due to its connection with Fort Pelly and Fort Livingstone.
“Fort Pelly, located approximately 12 kilometres southwest of the Village of Pelly, was one of the Hudson Bay Company’s most important trading posts, spanning the years 1793 to 1912. Ironically,
1912 was the year the museum building was started, started as a school that is.
Fort Livingstone is located approximately seven kilometres northwest of the Village of Pelly and spanned the years 1874 to 1884,” the release said. That fort lived a short life, but amazingly
in 1875 it was the first government seat of the entire Northwest Territories.
“These are the reasons the board members could not seem to get the meeting going. Yes, a building burnt, but far beyond that, a museum had been lost that housed an unbelievable amount of
historical artefacts and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
“Finally, our president was able to gather himself to read a passage to bring us to the reality that some items must be dealt with, and one of those items was to notify the public through the media
of what lies ahead.
“Several facts were nailed down. The school building that burnt was started in 1912 as Midhearst School, was added onto in 1925, and held its last class in 1968. This same school building
was incorporated into a museum in 1974 and the massive project began.
“It was very hard to run this meeting in an orderly fashion,” it said. “Many times we would go off on a tangent with ‘remember when’ comments like, some mornings we would come to open the museum and there would be several items lying at the steps with no clue as to who left them or what they were. Most of the donated items were very well documented.
Some were very valuable. “What stood out with almost all of the donated items is that they were originals and many were old, very old, and in good condition.
“Everyone will have a special item that he or she cherished in the museum,” it said. “At the board level it seemed the favourite was the two replicas of the forts, probably due to the historical
signifi cance of the forts, and the fact that each replica was constructed with reasonable detail.
“Another favourite was the chair that came from one of the forts. How on earth did that get there? How often was it passed down through the generations to get into the museum?
“Another item of interest was the hand-operated grist mill that was turned by so many guests,” it said. “There were many unique, special, irreplaceable items that are lost forever in their physical
being and unfortunately the historical notes that accompanied them.
“Again the board came to a standstill.
“Our president acknowledged that yes indeed a death had occurred. Several board members gathered their breath and almost blurted out, yes a death had occurred, but we must go on even if we don’t really know what is meant by that.”
The release said that the museum board has placed several items, but not many, into safe storage. The station building and its contents including the Model T car, have been saved. The clay oven can be salvaged. The St. Alban’s Anglican Church is part of the assets.
“We do have some museum documents on computer file,” it said. “We have been contacted by other local museums and the Museums Association of Saskatchewan (MAS) said it would help in any way possible.
“Most importantly, there is a spirit within the board to truly investigate the possibility of a rebuild in some fashion,” it said. “This is where the people of the area and the province come in.
We need your blessing both spiritually and fi nancially to start moving ahead, as was done in 1912 and 1974.
“We will be meeting with the village council shortly to co-ordinate the efforts of both parties.
“Donations may be made at the Pelly Village Office and Affinity Credit Union in Pelly. As well, a donation can be left with any board member.”
In all cases, registered charitable donation receipts will be issued to those donating, it said.
“Please do not donate any artifacts at this time since we do not have a suitable storage space and are not sure what a future museum might look like.”
The release said that would be all the details the board can currently provide, but said that it will keep the public informed as members work “with all of you through this diffi cult time.
“ May your prayers guide the decision makers to do the best they can with the tools they have.”
We, the Board of Directors of the Fort Pelly - Livingstone Museum, would like to express our appreciation to all the good people who came out to help during the Museum fire on June 13. A special thanks to the Pelly and Norquay Fire Departments, the farmers who willingly brought in their equipment and water tanks and their quick response to protect so much of our museum
assets and village, the RCMP, and the local people who volunteered in so many ways. Thank you also to those who provided vehicles to hold the artefacts rescued from the museum.
A community meeting is slated for Thursday, June 25, 2015, 7:00 pm at the Pelly Community Hall to celebrate memories of the Museum in positive ways. Everyone is
encouraged to attend