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New military museum celebrates grand opening

Capt. Craig Bird hopes the new Southeast Military Museum will be a place that honours not only the military history of Estevan, but the entire southeast region.
Military Museum
Second World War veteran Jim Spenst and Estevan MLA Lori Carr cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Southeast Military Museum. Looking on are Mayor Roy Ludwig, Kathryn Gilliss and Estevan Royal Canadian Legion president Jim (Frosty) Forrest)

Capt. Craig Bird hopes the new Southeast Military Museum will be a place that honours not only the military history of Estevan, but the entire southeast region.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Remembrance Day at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch. Many of the displays for the museum are housed in the legion’s small hall, and a crowd gathered in the hall after Estevan’s Remembrance Day service for the opening and to look at the exhibits.

They saw a wide variety of military artifacts, memorabilia, firearms, uniforms, flags and more.

The ribbon cutting was performed by Jim Spenst, who is one of the last Second World War veterans in the Estevan area, and Estevan MLA Lori Carr. A yellow ribbon was cut during the ceremony because the yellow ribbon is symbolic for the hope that soldiers deployed in a combat missions will return home.

“As this is part of the city of Estevan, we hope that not only will we remember those who lost their lives from Estevan, but the whole southeast,” said Bird.

It’s also created to those who served and returned home alive, and those who continue to serve their country.

Bird commended the legion and the different levels of government for the support they have shown the project.

“I think it’s only fitting that we have our grand opening and ribbon cutting today (on Remembrance Day),” said Bird.

Bird paid tribute to Spenst for his service to his country with the Canadian Army during the war, and for the work Spenst did in the community as a businessman once the war was over.

He also wants feedback on the museum.

“Let me know what you think,” Bird said. “We’re a work in progress, we’re a new museum, and there’s more to come with the museum. It will be changing, and we will be adding stuff on a regular basis.”

The museum is a registered charity under Revenue Canada, and can give out tax receipts for donations, whether it be financial or memorabilia support.

“We would love to showcase your family or families from the southeast here in the museum, and we are also licensed as a firearms museum, so we can accept any kinds of firearms or ammunition.”

The rest of the museum’s displays are located at Bird’s property north of Estevan. There were maps to his home available at the small hall, and signs directed people to his property.

The displays at the legion can be viewed by dropping by the building during business hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday to Friday. Those who wish to see the items at Bird’s property would need to contact him.

The museum will have artifacts from the Boer War in the late 1890s to the current military items, but the focus will be on the First World War and the Second World War.

In addition to Bird’s collection, the museum features the items from such people as Scott Paton, Jeff Gudmundson and Larry Mass.