Museum fire a devastating loss for Rimbey Historical Society

The Rimbey General Store Museum burned down early July 5. (Facebook/ Paskapoo Historical Park & Smithson International Truck Museum)

The Rimbey General Store Museum burned down early July 5. (Facebook/ Paskapoo Historical Park & Smithson International Truck Museum)

By Michaela Ludwig For Black Press News Media

According to the RCMP, on Tuesday, July 5, a female suspect entered PasKaPoo Park in Rimbey around 12:02 a.m. and she left a minute later after setting fire to the Historical Society’s general store building.

Corp. Troy Savinkoff, with the Alberta RCMP media relations department, said a member of the Rimbey RCMP was in the area around 1:57 a.m. and saw the fire. That officer was dealing with another matter at the time but called the fire in to the fire department. Unfortunately, the general store was a total loss.

Savinkoff said the fire department deemed the fire to be suspicious and Rimbey RCMP officers were called to attend the scene. Officers found video footage on one of the park’s security cameras, which shows what appears to be a female suspect.

Trudy Rangen had recently completed a barn quilt, which was purchased by the Hoadley Happy Gang Ladies Club (HHGLC), gifted to the local International Quilters’ Quilting Guild and hung on the side of the general store. This beautiful piece of work was also lost in the fire.

Titled “Wild Rose,” Rangen had made the barn quilt in honour of her mother-in-law Janet Rangen.

“Janet is an avid award-winning quilter, whose favorite pattern is the log cabin,” Rangen explained.

“She was nicknamed Rosie by her sister, Betty. So the design was a tribute to Janet, the log cabin pattern and her nickname.”

The barn quilt took Rangen 10 days to design and another week to paint. It was a labour of love and Rangen said she was delighted when the HHGLC purchased the work.

“They asked me to be there when they made the dedication, which was an honor, too,” Rangen said.

“I was really overjoyed when I learned that it would be placed on the general store building, as that has always been my favourite display. Being a bit of a shopaholic, that store was a magical treasure for the imagination.”

The loss of a historical and irreplaceable building such as that is a blow for the town and the Historical Society.

“The general store was the true centre of a town, where friends and neighbors ran into each other and visited. It’s where you would hear all the news and gossip. It is such a huge loss for our community. The Historical Society has worked so very hard in preserving our history and this store was truly a time capsule of days gone by. These buildings aren’t replicas, they are the originals. Losing this is heartbreaking.”

Savinkoff said, “these events are unfortunate and we don’t know why someone would want to light this building on fire.” He asks that if the public knows anything about this crime or the suspects involved, please call the Rimbey RCMP or Crimestoppers.