High hopes for heritage centre


The Hay River Heritage Centre will be open at the end of May with old and new programming. -- Angele Cano/NNSL photo

The Hay River Heritage Centre will be open at the end of May with old and new programming.
— Angele Cano/NNSL photo

An increase in traffic last year at the Hay River Heritage Centre has board members hopeful they can eventually achieve charitable status, and, as a result, more pots of money to ramp up programming and collections.

The Hay River Museum Society held its annual general meeting on March 27 at the Aurora College Community Learning Centre to review last year and its successes.

With the hiring of a co-ordinator, the society was able to increase programming and exhibits, and have one paid staff to run the centre during the season.

Along with taking pressure off a volunteer executive, it allowed society members to put their eyes on the future, said society chair Peter Osted.

It was suggested that we work hard on achieving charitable status,” he said. “You have to go through an amazing number of hoops to achieve status, but we talked about that a fair bit. But we go with the flow. We have to.”

The museum society could access more federal heritage funding with charitable status. It could also develop even more programming to help maintain an aging building, and develop outdoor exhibits.

Last year, the society was able to raise $9,000 locally from donations, fundraisers and community contributions. Part of that money was put towards maintenance and a scholarship fund.

Still, the society could have used extra funds to pay lot taxes, or to help clear land for outdoor exhibits purchased partially with town funds two years earlier.

Despite not receiving the $12,000 requested from the town’s community enhancement grant this year due to budget cutbacks, the society will still take in funding from the territorial government. It has received around $60,000 from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment through its museum outreach program for the past three years.

Sharla Carroll was hired last year as a co-ordinator and has increased programming at the centre.

This year, the plan is to blend new ideas with the traditional activities offered every year. The centre will still hold a season-opening event and the Canada Day High Tea, increase manpower for an influx of travellers returning for homecoming celebrations, and hold a bean supper to mark the closing of the season.

The centre will also branch out through social media, and will have a dedicated Facebook page by the opening of the season.

There is also brainstorming about holding workshops on things like beading, fishing and gardening, and tying in the town’s history. As well, the centre is working on displays that highlight people and customs in the town, and maybe even the goods.

One thing we do hear from tourists is that they can’t find souvenirs that are made by people by here,” said Carroll. “Last year, we had photo and art cards that sold really well, and earrings and some small crafts.”

At the March 27 meeting of the museum society, Osted was elected chair; Terry Tregidgo, vice-chair; Marge Osted, secretary; and Ian Flood, treasurer. Appointed directors are Bruce Green, Tom Makepeace, Ron Shaw and Chris Robinson, along with newcomers Jayne Haywood and Bea Lepine.

The Hay River Heritage Centre will be open from the end of May to the end of September.

— Angele Cano