Although it’s been a quieter season at Rimbey’s Paskapoo Historical Park, organizers are pleased that several folks have still been able to visit the Truck Museum and enjoy the grounds through the summer months.
The Historical Village itself has been closed to guests but the Truck Museum and Visitor Information Centre have remained open during the past few months, with a few restrictions in place, said Cheryl Jones, administrator of the site.
“Overall, things have been pretty good but our numbers of course have been down for visitors – which we expected. But we still managed to get quite a few people in,” she said. “It was heart-wrenching that in the 30 years the Truck Museum has been open, this is the first year that is wasn’t totally manned by volunteers,” she said. “So we’ve really been missing our volunteers.”
The Truck Museum has been closed two days each week whereas other years it has been open seven days a week.
“So we did make that change,” she said, adding that folks have been very compliant with the safety measures in the facility such as sanitization and social distancing.
During the summer, the grounds were eventually opened to the public for foot traffic only.
They had the Mann Gates open at the playground on the south side of the road, and the gate has been up at the parking lot at the Truck Museum. “They did come and enjoy walks through the grounds, use the playground area and use the pond,” she said. “It was good just for (visitors) just to relax and be out in the open.”
It was back on June 6th that staff reopened the Smithson International Truck Museum and the Visitor Information Centre with new hours – from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Things have also been continuously wiped down with the flow of visitors to the Truck Museum, but it’s been a bit of a challenge without the usual assistance of faithful volunteers onsite, said Jones.
Some of the volunteers have come by to help work on various projects, but for health safety reasons, contact with the public has been kept to a minimum.
“The bulk of our volunteers are retired, and they want to keep busy. But they need to be safe, too, because they are a little more vulnerable. It’s not that they don’t want to come – they would love to be able to come and do more,” she said. “This might change over the winter hopefully. I really miss my own socializing with the volunteers as well. It’s a real ‘community within a community’.”
Typically, about 30 volunteers would be an active part of a typical season at Paskapoo Historical Park with others helping out further with special events like Canada Day.
Normally, Paskapoo Historical Park opens on the May long weekend and operations run seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through until the Labour Day weekend.
The Truck Museum is open year-round.
Exact details as to what the hours will be have yet to be determined.
According to the Town’s web site, “The Historical Park houses Rimbey’s museum showcase. The Rimbey Historical Society has painstakingly preserved the region’s heritage with exhibits located in vintage buildings that were refurbished and brought to the site.
“The original Kansas Ridge School, Town Office, General Store, Barbershop, Blacksmith Shop and Church of the Epiphany are filled with period memorabilia. The main museum buildings contain a huge variety of wonderful artifacts donated by Rimbey pioneers and the original Bluffton Legion, renovated in 2014, contains comprehensive exhibits dedicated to our veterans.”
In the meantime, Jones also pointed out how the Park relies on fundraising events over the summer to help keep things moving forward. Sadly, much has had to be cancelled including Canada Day celebrations at the Park this year.
But on a bright note, restoration work has been ongoing on the Steeves House – which used to be not only the Hoadley Post office but was also the home which acclaimed Alberta author Janette Oak grew up in.
“We have Janette Oak’s writing exhibit in the entry way of the Truck Museum – it’s quite extensive as she has written over 70 books that have sold about 30 million copies,” said Jones. “It’s wonderful.”
Last November, the house was moved to the Paskapoo Historical Park grounds.
“So we’ve slowly been working on it – the summer students painted it,” said Jones. “So it’s all nice and fresh.”
A total of 18 movies have also been produced based on Oak’s books.
For more information, find ‘Paskapoo Historical Park & Smithson International Truck Museum’ on Facebook.