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Take two for celebration of Original Humboldt

There will be a second take for the official commemoration of the Original Humboldt land in 2011.
The Original Humboldt site, circa 1885, was an important spot in Western Canada, and one of the only places on the map at that time. The history of the site will be celebrated there on June 2 with a special ceremony.

There will be a second take for the official commemoration of the Original Humboldt land in 2011.
Organizers are putting together a ceremony to commemorate the significance of the site, located eight kilometres southwest of the present city, in Canadian history on June 2, and this time, the event will actually take place at the site.
A similar event took place in June 2010 in Humboldt. Though it was planned to visit the actual site as part of the ceremony, wet conditions made that impossible. The festivities were then held exclusively in the city.
"We had a plan, but we couldn't fit (in a site visit) because of the rain," said Dennis Korte, a member of the Original Humboldt committee, which is helping the Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery organize this event.
So they put off the site celebrations for almost a year. Now, they're planning another celebration.
But having two parties is just fine with this crew.
"We had so much to celebrate, we had to break it into two parts," smiled Rev. Alvin Hingley, another member of the Original Humboldt committee.
"We get the Lieutenant-Governor twice this way," grinned Korte. Dr. Gordon Barnhart, Lieutenant-Governer of Saskatchewan, will be in attendance at the 2011 celebration, as he was in 2010.
Just why they wanted to hold this celebration, out on the Original Humboldt site is simple.
It's where it all happened.
"It's important to be on the site, on the land," noted Jennifer Hoesgen of the HDMG. "We hope people get a feel of the land and a feel of the location they weren't able to get in 2010."
A lot did happen at the site, which is already looking better than it did last year, in terms of water.
There was the original Telegraph Station, which was operated by George and Catherine Weldon and their family at that location.
It was also the spot where General Middleton stopped with his troops on the way to fight Louis Riel and his troops at Batoche in the 1885 Resistance.
And it was where Col. Denison was camped with his men, guarding stores for the soldiers battling at Batoche.
And that's not all. There are other stories connected to that land as well, stories that are important not only to the history of this area and Saskatchewan, but to the history of Canada. It was visited by significant people, including royalty and the Governor General, and as one of the first places on the map of Western Canada, Humboldt is mentioned in writings from the 1850s on.
And it was a stop on the Carlton Trail where many settlers passed through.
"It's a unique site, in what happened there. Lots of Red River carts went through," Korte said. You can almost still hear the squeaking of those wheels out there, he smiled.
"It was 80 acres of land that had a lot of activity on it," said Gary Jenkins, another committee member.
And celebrating this site is important, Jenkins feels, because its stories were nearly lost. The land was farmed for years before it was purchased with donated funds for the City of Humboldt to hold. Research and archeological digs have occurred there since 2009, shedding light on the life of the people who once lived there.
"It's sacred ground," said Hingley. "You can drive out there... and it's almost overpowering, the sense of what went on on that ground."
On June 2, the ceremonies will begin with the arrival of the lieutenant governor.
"Then we'll have a surprise presentation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police," said Korte, who refused to release any more details about what the surprise might be.
It's not the musical ride, is all he would say.
"We asked the RCMP to be a part of it, and they said yes," said Korte.
The committee is choosing to keep what they will do secret in order to build some anticipation and pique curiosity, they admitted, though it has been difficult keeping it quiet.
Some speeches and historical information will be given about the site, to give the crowd some background.
The tourist area of the site will also be unveiled at the ceremony.
This area includes storyboards that tell the history of what happened at the site, and to distinguish the historical site from any other field in the area.
"Once the storyboards are up, people can read and visualize where all these things took place," said Jenkins.
"This will be a site where children, families and historians can go. It will tell the story of the land," said Korte.
After the official ceremonies on June 2, if the site is dry, they hope to hold tours, leading people to where the Telegraph Station once stood, or where Fort Denison was located.
Archeologists from Western Heritage Services who have been leading the research into the site will be at the site doing soil susceptibility testing, Hingley added.
"It will be a wonderful day," Korte said of June 2.
And it will conclude with an encore performance of "The Trial of Louis Riel" produced by Rielco Productions from Regina.
The trial will take place, once again, in the Humboldt Courthouse.
The first performance of this play in Humboldt was done in 2010.
At this second trial, "we hope to get him acquitted," the committee joked.
This will likely be the last time this play is held here, they noted.
The play fits nicely with the celebration of the Original Humboldt site because of its ties to the Riel Resistance.
"It's such a huge part of the reason for all the stuff (happening) out here," noted Korte. "Riel caused all that fuss. All of us need to get our heads around the significance of Riel here."
This second performance will also allow more people to take in the play, as it sold out immediately last year.
This dramatic play is "presented so well by professional actors, it will make your hair stand on end," Korte smiled.
To add to the excitement of the committee this spring, the Original Humboldt research project just received a $7,500 grant from the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation to help fund their work in 2011 at the site.
To get such a large grant - "That's the importance put on that spot," Hingley said.
The storyboards and this commemoration event is not the end of the development of the Original Humboldt site, Hoesgen noted.
"With these volunteers, it's just the beginning," she smiled.
Those volunteers do have big dreams for the site, including planting some areas to native grasses.
The archeological work out there, they noted, "can go on forever."
That work has already laid to rest where, exactly, the telegraph station once stood, and found other important artifacts.

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