Some exciting new exhibits are coming at Paskapoo Historical Park that the Rimbey Historical Society is excited to show visitors when museums are able to open again.
The Steeves House, the childhood home of prolific area writer Janette Oke and a new textile museum housed in its basement, will soon be ready for viewing, says administrator and curator Cheryl Jones.
In November, 2019, the society was able to move the Steeves House from the Hoadley area to the site, which they had fundraised for.
The society was hoping to open up the Steeves House last year, but due to COVID-19, that was delayed.
The home was moved onto the grounds onto a basement foundation. The upstairs will serve as a new museum, and the basement will be the home of the new textile display.
“The Janette Oke exhibit is staying in the entry of the Smithson International Truck Museum,” said Jones, adding that the The Steeves House came with all the items the family had in the house, so there’s no room for anything else.
The upstairs of the Steeves House is close to being ready, although all the artifacts need to be catalogued and that is still underway.
The basement is being used for the new textile exhibit because the controlled environment of no windows, light, and temperature control are best suited for textiles.
Although most all other displays and museums are wheelchair accessible, unfortunately, the textile exhibit is not.
Over the years, the society has received numerous donations of clothing, including everything from square dancing outfits to male and female figure skating costumes that were worn at the Olympics.
“There are some really interesting artifacts of clothing,” said Jones.
The donations have now all been steam-cleaned.
There is some clothing on display in a small area of the history museum, but it has become overcrowded, and some of those items will make the move to the new textile museum. Some wedding dresses will remain in the history museum.
Two dresses from the Mitchell’s Ladies Wear exhibit will now be included in the textile exhibit. The women’s clothing store was in Rimbey from 1946 to 1972.
A wheelchair ramp was added outside of the building, as well as a raised wooden flower bed was constructed and donated by Kevin Booth Contracting.
They are hoping the display will be ready for July, and by then, they will be able to open.
The grounds have been, and continue to be, open seven days a week during daylight hours. With summer just around the corner, that means 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Although the exhibits have been closed since December, staff and volunteers have not been idle.
“It gave us the opportunity to rethink the exhibits and change a few things around,” said Jones.
In a week or two when the weather warms up, the planting will begin after the beds have been weeded and prepared.
A large donation form the Rimbey Horticultural Society will allow the historical society to plant their flower beds this year.
Although the horticultural society volunteers usually plant the garden, with their aging volunteers and gathering restrictions, this year they made a monetary donation instead and it’s much appreciated, says Jones.
“They’ve been generous with us,” said Jones.
“We’ll have a bit more colour in our flower beds this year.”
A small group of volunteers also recently removed some low-hanging tree branches from the playground area, for ease of use and visual reasons.
“It’s a lot of work to manage the nine acres we’re on,” said Jones, adding that volunteers are very welcome, though it’s been more difficult to organize them under COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s all about beautification, restoration and preservation.”
With the announcement May 26, it may be anywhere from six to nine weeks before museums can open, says Jones.
“We just have to play it by ear.”