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Waskesiu Heritage Museum Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary

Posted in News & Events by Dan Holbrow on June 24th, 2015

The Waskesiu Heritage Museum, created in Saskatchewan’s centennial year, this summer celebrates its 10th anniversary of providing visitors to Waskesiu with a unique experience of earlier days in “Saskatchewan’s playground”. The museum tells the human history of Prince Albert National Park (PANP) since its inception in 1928. It brings together artifacts, images, and memorabilia that depict the way of life of early visitors and residents.  People who were instrumental in developing the Waskesiu community and who continue to enjoy PANP today donated items to the museum. The museum enables visitors to gain a greater understanding of the park’s vibrant past. Several thousand people visit the museum each year.

Twelve dedicated people founded the museum with a few donated artifacts in one room of the Friends of the Park Bookstore.  This energetic group grew as more enthusiastic volunteers worked for the museum. The indoor collection has grown to occupy half of the building. Outside on the neighbouring property, the featured exhibit is an original canvas roofed shack tent from the early days of the Park, accompanied by a replica of an early camp kitchen.  A portable cabin and shed, locally known as a doghouse, represent a later era along with a fire tower cupola and a rail cart for portaging watercraft. A large group of active volunteers continues to support the museum by serving as board members, working as guides, planning and holding events, building and maintaining displays, and raising funds to mention just a few tasks.  

A variety of different events have been hosted at or by the museum such as concerts, a vintage fashion show, a ceremony recognizing the HMCS Waskesiu, yard sales, a dog show, Canada Day celebrations and volunteer appreciation dinners. Heritage Day celebrations prove so popular that this has become an annual event.   Planned for Saturday, August 8, 2015, Heritage Day is old- fashioned fun for the whole family – from sack races and a fishpond to animated exhibits and candy apples. 

To raise funds for the museum, volunteers sell tickets annually on a kayak and hold a very popular, family-friendly bingo on Wednesday evenings in July and August at Terrace Gardens. Usually the raffle sells out in August and players fill the hall to capacity for the weekly bingo. The community support is very much appreciated, as these are the two main fundraisers for the museum.

New for this anniversary year are hand held audio guides to enhance the visitor experience with the refreshed displays at the museum.  In these guides, anecdotes collected from local residents and visitors accompany information about the artifacts.  Another addition is a tabletop model of a shack tent created by museum board members who grew up vacationing in one.  Visitors of all ages can assemble this model and furnish it with scale sized furnishings to understand this unique form of accommodation which plays such an important role in the history of Waskesiu.

The museum is located on Waskesiu Drive across from the local cinema in a heritage log building, the former Park Information Services and Warden building. During the summer months, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. staffed by competent volunteers and a student guide.  Admission is by donation. 

Information about the museum is available on the mobile friendly website www.waskesiuheritagemuseum.org.  Volunteer help is always welcome by this active, dedicated organization.   

The Waskesiu Heritage Museum is grateful for support from the Hire-a-student grant program, SaskCulture, and Sask Lotteries.

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