Established in 1966, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village was created to preserve southwestern Alberta’s vast pioneer heritage. Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers alike, the museum has grown to feature over 30 buildings and more than 30,000 artifacts.
Most of the buildings found in the pioneer village are authentic and restored, but maintaining these structures isn’t cheap. The museum has elected to run a progressive 50-50 fundraiser to support its continued efforts to preserve the region’s vibrant history.
“There’s plenty of grants to construct buildings, but there aren’t a lot of granting or funding opportunities for building repairs, especially if it’s a heritage building,” says office administrator Janelle Harris.
“We have limited access to funding, so it falls on us to keep these buildings in good condition and preserve them for generations to come. If we don’t, who will?”
Janelle says the goal is to raise $20,000 for repairs.
“The community has always supported us, and this is just another way of doing so while having a chance to maybe help yourself at the same time, so we hope that everybody buys a ticket.”
The lucky winner will be drawn Dec. 3, when KBPV hosts its 11th annual Largest Christmas Cookie Sale in Pincher Creek History.
One of the museum’s major fundraisers, the sale offers over 1,000 dozen cookies, along with pies, tarts, breads, squares and more for those looking for delicious, homemade Christmas treats.
People interested in supporting heritage conservation can visit the museum’s website at www.kootenaibrown.ca to purchase 50-50 tickets. You can also phone the museum and Janelle can take a credit card for ticket purchase.
Available to those 18 and over, each ticket is $5, and there is no limit to the number an individual can purchase.
The Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society, composed of volunteers dedicated to promoting the growth of skateboarding in the southwest, has ramped up its efforts to have a new outdoor skatepark designed and built in Crowsnest Pass.
On Jan. 29, 2019, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass made the difficult decision to abruptly close the Albert Stella Memorial Arena, the site of the old indoor skatepark that was widely popular with the Pass skateboarding community.
The decision came after an engineering consultant retained by council submitted a structural analysis, citing numerous damages and deficiencies.
That same day, council announced in a press release that, after reviewing the report, the building was deemed unsafe and it was in the municipality’s best interests to close the arena to ensure the safety of staff and residents.
Prior to the closure, Crowsnest Pass had a thriving skateboard community that occupied the indoor skatepark on any given day. When the arena was unexpectedly closed, it meant this community had to travel to neighbouring towns to skateboard at their parks.
“There’s a lot of really good skateboarders in the Pass that need a local place to skateboard,” says Ian Gauthier, secretary and treasurer for SWASS and co-owner of Boarderline Skate Shop in Lethbridge.
“When it shut down, we started to regroup and refocus our energy on trying to do a big push to get an outdoor skateboard park.”
Since the fall of 2021, after initial delays resulting from the inability to meet during the Covid pandemic, Ian and his fellow volunteers have proceeded to get the outdoor skatepark project back on track.
This past year saw the group really up their efforts, hosting and attending various events and fundraising for the project. On top of their own fundraising efforts, SWASS has received support from the community as well.
Working with the municipality, SWASS was able to get approval on a future location, in Flumerfelt Park in Coleman, for the skatepark.
“We’re in a good spot with the community involvement. The city’s on board and the recreation department are as well, and we just want to push forward,” says Ian.
In December, after months of planning and preparation, SWASS and Pass Beer Co. announced the release of a new beer called the Pop Shuvit Pilsner, where a percentage of all sales would go towards the new skatepark.
Shortly after the release of the new beer, the Blairmore Lions club generously donated $10,000 to SWASS for the Crowsnest Pass skateboard park project.
The money raised by Pass Beer and the Lions club, along with the location approval, are huge stepping stones for SWASS as it moves forward with its plans.
“We’re in the process of raising money for Phase 1, which is raising enough money to get the full design budget done up by a reputable skateboard company, skatepark builder, and then from there, we can then apply for all the grants and kind of move forward with the city in getting it done,” says Ian.
Ultimately, SWASS is pushing to get a new park built with the kids of Crowsnest Pass in mind, even if it is a long and expensive undertaking.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. It typically takes years to fundraise the money required for a quality-design skatepark done by a professional company,” says Ron MacGarva, president of SWASS.
“With that said, though, it’s all about the kids. Everybody knows that kids need places and opportunities to step out and be physically active, and skateboarding is a great way of doing that.”
The group aims to meet at the end of the month to discuss further plans to fundraise, skatepark designs, and selection of the company that will assist with designs and budget.
If you wish to stay up to date and learn more about the efforts to bring a skateboard park back to Crowsnest Pass, or are interested in volunteering, you can find SWASS on Facebook or Instagram.
The club is accepting donations for the skatepark, which can be e-transferred to SWASS here.
Eighty-four years ago, back in 1938, the good people in and around the Maycroft area decided to build themselves a hall. In typical old-fashioned country tradition, land was donated by George Heaton, lumber came from a sawmill on the Dennis Ranch and hardware (building supplies) came from Art Densmore’s Lundbreck Trading.
Pretty much everyone north of Lundbreck and Cowley pitched in every chance they could to make it happen and, true to fashion, they did.
The hall had its first concert in 1939, and used to hold three or four concerts a year. The kids from nearby Maycroft School also held their Christmas concerts there.
According to longtime supporter Ida Dennis, in the early days the ranchers used to sort their cows (sometimes 800-plus) in the fall at the hall area until corrals were built in the Gap.
The whole idea of events at the hall was always to support the Christmas concert and to maintain and improve the place.
Ida says, “They also put on dances where the ladies made a special lunch box, which would then be auctioned off. The one who brought the most money usually had a bottle of beer in it! The buyer would share the lunch with the lady who made it.”
A few additions have been made over the years. In the early days there was a wood stove to make coffee on, and lighting was with Coleman gas lamps until they got electricity in 1960.
For the longest time, Ida says, there was no bar inside and the dances were known to get pretty rough, with lots of “fightin’ and drinkin’ outside.” Apparently local residents would appear in the afternoon and hide their bottles in gopher holes for later in the evening, “so they could step out with a buddy for a little snort.”
Ida recalls that some of the gals would sneak out and move the bottles to different holes just to see the cowboys’ reaction.
Kathy Rast, organizer of the annual fundraiser for Maycroft Hall, says there used to be spring and fall dances, which eventually morphed into the more popular annual supper and concert. This has been going on since 2010 and it is just an awful lot of fun, which includes their now famous pie auctions.
Last Saturday, Maycroft Hall rolled out the carpet for area residents to dine and dance, and to support the hall by getting into crazy bidding wars for specialty pies created for the event.
Through the years, Kathy says, they have raised $64,252.58 with the pie and roast auctions. With this kind of support, the hall committee has replaced the hardwood dance floor and has installed new siding (inside and out), new windows in the entire hall, hot water on demand, natural gas hookups and, recently, Wi-Fi connections.
This year the auction was zany as usual, with auctioneer Dylan Bates skilfully extracting over $2,600 from the pockets of the always-supportive locals. The standing record at the hall is $2,100 paid for one pie some years ago, which was bought and re-donated several times.