Paskapoo Park staff and volunteers await the word when they can again welcome visitors to explore the site

In the meantime, summer help has been hired to maintain grounds and buildings

Rimbey’s Paskapoo Park may be largely closed, but staff and volunteers await the word when they can again welcome visitors to explore the site.

And, even though folks can’t visit the Truck Museum, the Visitor Information Centre or the various buildings on site these days, they can still spend time on the grounds, said administrator Cheryl Jones.

March 29 was a tentative opening date – which was later pushed back because of a rise in hospitalizations and overall pandemic numbers.

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 normally open year-round as well.

“We are looking into minimal staffing of course,” she said, adding they are also looking into whatever grant funding might be available to help them through this challenging time as well.

“We aren’t planning any capital expansions or anything like that either – we are just keeping up with everything; making sure everything is well maintained and ready to go when we are able to open,” she said.

“We do have a couple of picture windows out front on the Visitor Information Centre, and I’m advertising things there as to what visitors might be looking for such as campground information or what’s available in town as far as restaurants – typical visitor information for the area,” she explained.

“Basically, it’s a ‘wait and see’.”

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 usually relies on fundraising events over the summer to help keep things moving forward.

But there is some good news – they’ve been able to hire more help via the Canada Summer Jobs Grant to help maintain the grounds.

“There are nine acres here of grass to cut as well, and there are 18 buildings plus half a dozen flower beds.”

Jones has been working at the site for 15 years now.

“It’s such a diverse job. I work with great volunteers and working with the volunteers is something I have really missed because with the pandemic, they haven’t been able to be around as much,” she said.

“They are enthusiastic about it, too, and you hear such great stories about history and other things. It’s amazing – we had a coffee gang that came here every day, too. But with the pandemic, we had to cancel that which is unfortunate.

“I still try to keep in touch with them on the phone, but it’s not the same.”

But it’s still very much a supportive community.

“I do have great support with the board members as well – they are checking on me to make sure everything is working out fine.”

For Jones, the pandemic has opened up online learning opportunities, too.

“I was able to take an archival course this winter which helped me to be able to develop our archives here,” she said.

“We are also looking into more online learning and there is a history app called ‘On This Spot’ which we are working with. They’ve had a few free webinars that I’ve taken part in, and they do museum profiles as well. So we are looking, in the future, at maybe working more with them.

“I think that sometimes, in this day and age, people forget what has happened in the past,” she said. “History is very important, and I think it also pays tribute to all of the hard work that the pioneers did to develop this area.

“You try to preserve what you can.”

For more, find ‘Paskapoo Historical Park & Smithson International Truck Museum’ on Facebook.

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