UNITY – In small towns, local museums hold the collective memories, preserving the personal history of residents, many of whom donated artifacts on display.
Unity and District Heritage Museum doesn’t just take pride in preserving community, provincial and Canadian history, it also offers a spacious venue that is home to events, activities and photo backdrops, as well as instilling a sense of community pride.
As Unity museum committee members shift to fall mode, there was much to celebrate from summer experiences.
The season saw a steady stream of visitors touring, numbering just over 860. The progress of the road work in August may have resulted fewer numbers as people had to navigate the long way around to enter along with some pilings in the way, giving the impression the museum was closed.
The Highway 21 bypass construction project and finished product did not impact the museum as harshly as they initially anticipated. The gate entrance to the museum will not change, news met with a sigh of relief.
With no changes to the entrance, the museum was open the entire season, even during the road work.
The town of Unity removed some trees by the Adanac Hall as spider mites killed them and a spokesperson for the museum says their group hopes new trees will be planted in their place.
Impacts to machinery row wasn’t as dreadful as anticipated. The last week of September, more machinery was moved in order to make space for the fence. Sadly, the Lethbridge rod weeder did not take the move well and major repairs are needed. The buffalo still needs relocation from this area as well. Once the fence location is decided, and hopefully before snow falls, the museum group are planning to replace the machinery where it was situated, as machinery row looks empty at present.
The town of Unity had to move an electrical box and water line in the northeast corner and as a result, there is still no electricity from the caboose to the stone house.
Fall work includes many tasks
For the fall, volunteer men have been busy putting vehicles that were out on display away for the winter in the shops, in addition to tidying up the yard as much as possible. The buildings have been closed and readied for winter, along with other winterizing duties, which is no small task for the small volunteer group. The office will remain in use during the winter off and on as a museum representative will be checking on emails, the phone and other projects in addition to attending to paperwork that is always in need of being kept up to date.
The museum’s biggest fundraiser, the weekly pancake brunches, is being discussed and thought to be able to return in November, with posters being put in place once details are finalized.
The UDHM says their royals display area is in the station waiting room. Several more photos of Queen Elizabeth II will be added with a tribute to her. Many items showcasing the history of the Queen are situated around the museum depicting her 70-year term of service, recognizing that she ruled with duty and grace.
Unity Kin Club brought in a few items that have now found a home in the club display area. A new display includes the Royal Purple and Elks room with some ladies fixing up this space in the Adanac School and creating an attractive display.
Not including the Royal Purple or Kilwinning Mason Hall, there were more than 400 items donated to the museum in 2022. These new areas have not been catalogued yet but will be attended to in the next year. For those not familiar with the process, cataloguing is a big project done in five to six different stages. All other artifacts received over the summer have been catalogued and put on display in various museum buildings and the museum group is told a few more can be expected before snow falls.
The soddie is no more, however a new wood shack fondly titled “little house on the prairie” stands in its place. The structure was reclad with first cut lumber which was brought from a location near Livelong and took volunteers three days to complete. The interior walls were filled with newspaper to stop the drafts, and the roof still needs a bit of TLC. The refurbished building will be displayed come spring.
For the winter months, in addition to the Sunday brunch fundraisers, another Family Day activity is being planned for February as well as early-stage planning for July 1, 2023. Shop volunteers will be erecting tarps so they can continue working on small projects throughout the winter months, which will include the Geo White steamer as it now passed inspection this fall.
UDHM committee members commit to history preservation and continued venue upkeep
UDHM committee members continue to meet the third Wednesday of every month year-round to plan and discuss what needs to be done to keep this venue the pride of the community and a great resource for the area’s history. The group is always looking for new members with membership a bargain price of $2 annually or a discounted $5 for a three-year member.
“We all work hard to preserve the past for future generations, so they can see what a great country, province and area this is,” says museum member Chris Martin. “We exist because of our volunteers and some of those people wear many hats but that is what makes this an interesting group to be part of as well as place to work and plan for.”
Sept. 28 an appreciation supper is held to honour volunteers numbering up to 70.
The personal touch put in by UDHM committee members and volunteers make the venue a focal point in town and a significant touchstone to our history and past.