Out of the Ashes - The Museum of the Highwood rises!

Guest Post this week! From my cousin Pat Markley, journalist, writer and awesome museum person! She lives in High River, Alberta Canada where famous Canadian author W.O. Mitchell used to teach school in his pajamas! (Good strategy W.O. I should try that!). 

Here's Pat with a tale of a museum, a fire, and that prairie thing of raising a barn and never giving up! 

Like my cousin Jan, I seem to attract strange events – and even stranger people – into my life. However, I never imagined when I took a job at the Museum of the Highwood in High River in June 2010 – a place where nothing much had changed in decades – that a month later I’d be standing on the sidewalk watching it burn. 

Now, most small museums do not survive a building fire. Thanks to the dedication of board members and other volunteers, staff and folks who just wandered in off the street, the Museum of the Highwood is alive and well and will re-open to the public on May 19th.

I think one of the things we’re proudest of is that we never stopped being a museum – even though we were without a building for almost two years. We answered research requests during breaks in cleaning and sorting artifacts. As the museum’s programmer, I found myself doing presentations in classrooms, gymnasiums, church basements, seniors’ homes – and perched on the edge of a buffalo jump! The experience brought home to all of us that a museum is more than a building and more than ‘old stuff.’ 

It’s the stories and the people. It’s recounting how one pioneer walked all the way from Regina to High River in February because he heard it was a place of great opportunity. It’s George Lane and Guy Weadick working out the financial details of the first Calgary Stampede. It’s a little kid growing up to be Prime Minister - Joe Clark. And it’s a local high school teacher, W.O. Mitchell, writing one of Canada’s most beloved novels, Who Has Seen the Wind.
Staff Rocking the
Haz Mat suits

Opening ceremonies will begin at 2pm on May 19th at the old CPR station, once again the museum. (Free cake!) Summer events include historic downtown walking tours, cemetery tours and a Haunted High River tour. We’re very glad our ghosts in the train station didn’t abandon us during the long months of renovation.

Thank you to Jan for letting me shamelessly plug the museum. We should have updated information on the website sometime in June.


JennaQuentin said…
It's great to hear about people preserving local history. Stories should not be forgotten. Thanks for sharing!