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Unity Museum's summer: A bustling history hub

A remarkable 680 visitors have taken in Unity and District Heritage Museum's buildings and artifacts,

UNITY — Acknowledging that this is a good problem to have, Unity’s museum committee say their venue has not been quiet this summer.

The month of June was full of fine-tuning while preparing for Canada Day activities. June also included two school tours, which is an appreciated activity as the museum offers a great reflection on Unity and area history and provides a great historic learning experience with local connections.

Volunteers and museum team members removed the aged and weathered boardwalk along Adanac Hall, and a new step was installed. Volunteers planted western red lilies along that space and ask if any community member has extras to bring them over for planting. These perennials will make a beautiful bed of orange for next summer along the hall.

Even though Canada Day made for a long weekend, museum group members were thrilled to entertain and engage with a good crowd of 142 for pancake breakfast and over 100 for supper. While exact numbers were not recorded, roughly 400 visitors experienced all the activity on the grounds throughout the day. Traditional events like speeder rides and Lions kids’ games were part of the action as were rope-making and bread-baking activities. Plans for 2023 are already underway and the committee welcomes suggestions and other service groups willing to assist with all of the activity that is part of the annual July 1 celebration at this venue.

A surprise donation will become a big hit for the next year. A homemade kiddie train, painted like the Thomas the Tank Engine, with cars for children to ride in will be a highly anticipated opportunity for families next season.

Contributions by volunteers are continuous at the museum. The new shop being erected is nearing completion, with the inside being painted, lights will be put in and the electrical lines are done from meter to solar panels for power savings.

The new building needs a name so community members are encouraged to submit their “name the shop” entry via phone, email or Facebook messenger with suggestions and the winning entry will be awarded a prize.

The museum continues to be a stopping and research place for families seeking family history. Four groups came to the location to research family information. The office includes history books, booklets, old photographs and even some old RM maps. Previous funeral bulletins have also helped in some family research, while some families have also come to see artifacts their families have donated.

Did you know the museum’s website has evolved, thanks to tech-savvy volunteers? New pamphlets are also in the works. Both of these options are a valuable asset for online and in-person visitors.

A total of 680 visitors, which includes the July 1 activity, have visited the museum in the summer of 2023, up Aug. 15. The location also was host to three family reunions, one school reunion and a Masonic Lodge gathering.

Come Jan 1, 2024, the museum has made the decision to no longer permit camping on the museum grounds. Instead, they will encourage visitors to use the RV campgrounds around town, Harbeth RV, Brentwood, Greenhead and the Unity campgrounds by the golf course. The decision came after much discussion from committee members as the grounds cannot handle this type of accommodation, and the booking of the hall does not include overnight accommodation. Use of the grounds is another booking option with a separate rental fee.

Sunday pancake brunches, the museum’s biggest fundraiser, will be back in November. Volunteers are always welcome, and residents are encouraged to stay tuned to stories and social media posts for updates on this opportunity.

Plans are to keep the museum open until after September long weekend, and potentially a few weekends into September, depending on weather and staffing. There are still many small projects to complete before they call an end to their season.

Appreciation for volunteers, donors, and volunteers is infinite, as they know they play a key role in this history venue's viability. A museum spokesperson says, “UDHM is proud to be part of Unity and surrounding districts.”

Unity and District Heritage Museum was established in 1978, with the grounds donated by the Town of Unity, under the Len Boxell mayoral administration. The first buildings moved to the grounds were the East Bank and Adanac Schools, purchased for $1 each. Dedicated museum members and volunteers have committed the last 45 years to expanding, updating, maintaining, cataloguing, and showcasing this venue for residents and visitors to experience this bustling history hub.

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