A big milestone for Hay River was recognized this past weekend.
This August marked the 10th anniversary of the Hay River Heritage Centre, and celebrations were thrown on Saturday.
Hay River residents and government dignitaries alike gathered besides the Museum for an afternoon of reflection and celebration of the Town.
Speeches and presentations were made by Minister of Justice Jackson Lafferty, MLAs Jane Groenewegen and Paul Delorey, and the members of the Museum Society before an evening of food and music took place.
Shawn Carter even stepped forward to donate a stuffed bald eagle to the museum. The eagle had been killed on a power line.
“It was a very good celebration,” said co-chair of the Museum Peter Osted. “The people from the Prince of Wales Arts Centre seemed impressed by us. It is kind of grass roots. It is not a big government operation. What you see is what the Town has done together.”
It was only a decade ago that the property was acquired by the Museum Society. At the time, the swampy property housed the former Hudson Bay store, the future home of some of Hay River’s history.
Throughout the years a lot has been done to improve the building both inside and out, with one of the more recent projects being last year’s leveling. The ground beneath the Museum has started to rise up, so one side had to be raised 12 to 16 inches.
But according to Osted, there are challenges faced on a daily basis in trying to keep the Museum’s doors open.
“The biggest challenge we face is having enough money to keep open,” he said. “It has been a constant battle to go after people with money. We don’t heat the Museum in the winter. Fuel is too expensive…It about $1,200 a month to heat.”
Osted estimated that annually, $10,000 is spent to maintain the Museum.
“It becomes a challenge,” he said.
He also noted that finding volunteers is a struggled that the Museum faces, in addition to many other organizations about town.
“You talk to people about it and at the time they want to do it, but then they back down,” he said.
But Osted has nothing but optimism for the coming years.
“More and more people are showing interest,” he said. “We have our high tea on July 1, that always brings people out. And we have a storytelling event, it is organized through Yellowknife, but it draws in people as well.”
The museum’s intention is to continue developing and create what Osted described as “more professional displays” but in order to do so, the Society will need the help of the community.
“We need people to come out and volunteer,” he said. “There is just so much to do here.”