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Exclusive: Lt.-Gov. Mirasty tours Soo Line Historical Museum

Lieutenant Governor Mirasty was amazed by the variety and enormity of the Charlie Wilston Silver Collection, the biggest in the world.

WEYBURN – Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty and his wife Donna took a tour of the Soo Line Historical Museum on Saturday, along with a few of the hosts from the High Tea held earlier at the Legacy Park School gym by Weyburn Tourism.

The event had originally been slated for the museum grounds, in part to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, but also in part to highlight the Soo Line Museum’s treasure, the Charlie Wilson Silver Collection, the largest privately-held silver collection in the world.

Weather conditions forced the High Tea event to be relocated, but the vice-regal couple still wanted to see the Charlie Wilson collection, and they made the visit along with Larry Heggs, executive director of Weyburn Tourism, Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan, and the emcee for the High Tea, Coun. Jeff Richards.

The couple were given an overview of the collection by museum staff member Lauren McKinney, and they toured through the collection and then the remainder of the museum.

The tour included a stop to see the eight-legged calf that Charlie Wilson had kept at the foot of his bed, and which he insisted the museum display along with the silver collection.

A grand-nephew of Wilson, John Shelly, also stopped by during the tour and shared some of the stories he knew about Wilson and the silver collection.

It was noted that Wilson’s farm house was filled, floor to ceiling, with the items he had collected from auction sales and from sources around the world. One of the people who helped him in his collecting was legendary auctioneer Herman Lackey, noted Shelly.

The will document, which set out in great detail what Wilson wanted as conditions for his collection to be kept and displayed by the museum, was eight pages long, and indicated if the museum couldn’t or wouldn’t agree to his conditions, the collection was to be sold and the proceeds given to the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.

During the tour of the museum, Lt.-Gov. Mirasty was amazed by the sheer enormity and variety of the silver collection, and commented often how incredible the collection is.

Shelly pointed out that the duplicate items of silver from Wilson’s collection was sold in a massive auction sale over two days, held at the Weyburn Curling Rink.

The group was also told how the will stipulated all items had to be accepted and displayed – but a difficulty arose as part of the collection of things was a vintage Mercury car Wilson owned. After meeting with the executors of Wilson’s estate, it was decided to sell that car, and the proceeds went towards the cost of building some of the display cases for Wilson’s silver collection.

The Lieutenant Governor was also struck by the museum’s collection of items from the former Weyburn Mental Hospital, including the James Eadie mural, which was rescued from destruction when the massive building was demolished, and he was given a copy of a history of the mental hospital as well.