Skip to content

Auction brings community out for look at the past

People came from miles around to buy a piece of history. It was an event that lasted all day at St. Elizabeth Convent in Humboldt, where hundreds of items were put up for auction on August 20.
If you don't want to use them for washing clothes by hand, washboards double as instruments in a Dixieland band. These two washboards were part of the list of items that sold at the auction held by the Sisters of St. Elizabeth on Saturday, August 20.

People came from miles around to buy a piece of history.
It was an event that lasted all day at St. Elizabeth Convent in Humboldt, where hundreds of items were put up for auction on August 20. For years, the sisters have been accumulating household goods, such as furniture, crockery, tea sets, kitchen utensils, et cetera, that were brought to the convent each time a house they had been operating had to close down.
At one time, the sisters also ran a farm, where they kept chickens and cows for dairy products; these animals helped provide the staples that were used to prepare food for the hospital and themselves.
As the years pass, the number of sisters is dwindling and there are no more young novices coming to take their place. It is a reality that the sisters have had to face, and along with it, the realization that one day they will have to vacate the present site.
In spite of the sombresignification of the occasion, the day was made into a community event and the beautiful weather encouraged people to stay on for the whole day.
The auction took place on the grounds of the convent and it was providential that the weather cooperated on Saturday, because the night before during the pre-bidding, the sky turned black and there was a huge downpour. Volunteers were scrambling to get the beautiful wood furniture, displayed outside for better viewing, back under cover to avoid water-damage.
Valerie and Delbert Kirsch of Kirsch Auctioneers in Middle Lake ran the auction. The Kirsches are known to specialize in the auctioneering of antiques, and there were many lovely pieces in the sisters' collection.
Although antiques have been going through a bit of an "out" phase for awhile, Valerie Kirsch said that they had started to come back in popularity again.
"Everything here is in good condition," said the auctioneer, "it will be an event for people to come and visit. Auctions always are."
Some of the items fetched prices indicative of their value, at other times, it was a steal.
Gary Schmidt of Cudworth spent the entire day there, and came away with quite a few purchases, such as an old-fashioned butter-churner. Made of glass, the butter-churner dates back to the early 1900s; Schmidt paid $55 for it.
There was an old wooden book-binding press, an assortment of flour bins, bread loaf pans. A box of brass items, such as bells, went for only $5 while a couple old-fashioned scrub boards brought in $35 apiece. A lovely cream-coloured ceramic pitcher and basin, coveted by more than a few in the crowd, sold for $110.
The auction started at 9 a.m. and by 2 p.m. they were only just finishing with the household items stored in the "summer kitchen" at the convent. All of the finer antique furniture and china hadn't yet been auctioned off.
Also, in the basement of the convent, there were larger items such as two vintage pedal organs and several wood and glass cabinets that housed the sisters' historical museum pieces until this year, when they moved all of the items to the Humboldt museum.
Still, the crowd stayed on. Many had come from out of town, just for the event and wouldn't leave until it was over.
Cheryl Brunen came partly out of curiosity and partly from nostalgia. Brunen, who lives in Warman now, did her nurse's training at the sisters' school in Humboldt in the late '60s.
"I came looking for a piece of history," she said, "and I've got something here, I'll use it to store my flour in."
Angela and Dale Mueller of Humboldt attended the pre-bidding Friday evening and had their eye on several items that they intended bidding on. Angela was thrilled with the zinc-top utility table that will find its use in her home as a craft table. Her husband Dale carried off a vintage light fixture the likes of which haven't been seen for decades, saying he had exactly the spot for it in the entry hall of their house.
"It was a very successful day," said Kirsch after it was all over. "We brought in more money for the sisters than we thought we would."
It was a long day for the auctioneers, who sold the last item at 6:10 p.m., nine hours after they had started, and a good day for everyone who came in support of St. Elizabeth Convent and the sisters.