HERITAGE ACRES – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
As part of a southern Alberta tour starting in Lethbridge and with several stops in Pincher Creek, Alberta Premier Allison Redford spent part of the afternoon Feb. 12 at Heritage Acres Farm Museum.
The premier’s visit started with a tour of the wind turbine on the museum property guided by representatives from Altalink and Alberta Wind Energy Corp.
The premier was accompanied by Associate Minister of Electricity and Sustainable Energy Donna Kennedy-Glans.
Next up was a tour of the 1906 UGG grain elevator at the museum, which was relocated from Brocket in 1999.
“The premier was extremely interested in that part of Alberta’s agricultural history and has a real appreciation for the artifacts and stories associated with it,” Heritage Acres Farm Museum executive director Bill Kells said.
One artifact of particular interest to the premier was the Emerson Kicker, a piece of test equipment used to determine the amount of foreign material in the incoming grain.
“The premier left with a couple of photos of that piece on her smart phone,” Kells said.
As the tour continued into the elevator agent’s office, Premier Redford noticed a 1920s document hanging on the wall and began to read out loud, pointing to the bottom of the page, “Produced under the direction of the Honorable George Hoadley, Minister of Agriculture in the province of Alberta.”
“Very interesting,” she said.
In speaking with the media earlier at the Heritage Acre site, premier Redford said:
“As we continue to grow and become the economic engine of the country, it’s not all about oil and gas she said, it’s about Agriculture and the $77-billion per year that we contribute to the Canadian economy.”
“This part of the world is the breadbasket not only for existing markets around the world, but over the next 10 to 15 years, most of the exporting in Canada is going to come from southern Alberta.”
After the elevator tour, both the premier and associate minister met with the board of directors and staff from Heritage Acres.
They were introduced to the history of how the site got started and the connections with the construction of the Oldman River dam in 1988, as explained by the society’s first president, George Mowat.
Then, how the development of the museum site to date has been through the hard work of volunteers and a number of funding sources, as outlined by the immediate past president Rick Bell.
“It has been, in large part, through grants from the province of Alberta,” noted Bell, who also highlighted some of the special events and other revenue streams.
“The museum hired their first paid staff in May 2010, the current executive director, and that was made possible through significantly increased funding from the joint funding program of the MD and Town of Pincher Creek,” Bell said.
The museum was designated as a recognized museum through the Alberta Museums Association in 2011, opening another important source of grant funding.
Kells then gave a digital slide presentation showcasing the site, the heritage buildings and their current use, and an overview of existing programs and events. That presentation included photos of the moving of the recently acquired Vogelaar barn.
“The premier and associate minister asked important questions after all the presentations and the premier congratulated the organization on their accomplishments to date,” Kells said.
Future plans for the museum were explained by president Rob Mitchell who outlined expanded programming for both youth and seniors.
Mitchell indicated there is a shift in focus from construction of facilities and active collecting “although there will always be a need for some of that.”
“Our priority now is toward community engagement, interpretation and programming and making the facility more accessible for both tourists and the residents from the entire region,” Mitchell said. “We are working toward being the agricultural history museum in southern Alberta and staying relevant, open and accessible.”
That presentation was followed by an informal round table discussion with a lot of positive exchange and good suggestions coming forward, Kells noted.
“We really appreciate Premier Redford and Associate Minister Kennedy-Glans taking the time today to visit our museum and meet with us,” Mitchell said.
Premier Redford and Associate Minister Kennedy-Glans were then off to one more engagement before hosting a meet and greet at the Boston Pizza in Pincher Creek.