Community members in Hay River are preparing to revitalize the Hay River Heritage Centre museum, currently housed in the old Hudson’s Bay Company building.
In a series of meetings in November, the museum’s board and residents came together to discuss the future of the relic-saving space.
“What we’re doing is coming up with a general plan that we can take and move forward with, looking at opportunities for the community for expanding our museum,” said Brad Mapes, chair of the museum board and a town councillor. “We want to make sure the whole town is represented by it.”
Some ideas that have come out of the meetings include opening the museum year-round and creating more room for revolving cultural activities and exhibits within its walls.
“There were several ideas about maybe looking at a new building, expanding, developing more of the lots,” he said of the volunteers’ vision. “We appreciate what has been done by our past members that have been around the museum for years. We’re just trying to move forward, getting our museum into another step.”
The hope is to have a general plan for the museum finalized this month to be able to act quickly on the upgrades.
“We’re really being proactive; we’ve got a really good group of people that are there,” Mapes said. “The museum really relies 100 per cent on volunteering to get stuff done. We want to go to that next hurdle and get into where we can get some of these bigger projects done by contracting some of it out.”
Mapes said the town is weighing the costs and benefits of several different options and held the meetings to source ideas from the local crowd. He explained how proud the townspeople are of the area’s past.
To promote that history, they want it to be displayed in a way that is inclusive to the peoples who built the community while remaining dynamic.
“We’ve got amazing history with trapping and transportation and we really want to showcase it more on a regional side,” he said. “It’s definitely key for us.”
Gearing up for the holiday season
While the future of the Heritage Centre is sorted out, the community will be busy getting ready for Christmas with themed events throughout the month.
Volunteers are scouring the town to find photos of Hay River Christmases past to hang and decorate the museum with a vintage flare. On Sundays throughout the month of December, residents are invited to look through the images to help get them into the Christmas spirit while nibbling on goodies and sipping on hot cocoa and tea.
On Dec. 4, one-man-show Jamie Bastedo stopped by to share the story of Arctic Explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson and his deadly excursion to the regions west of Parry Archipelago from 1913 to 1918.
According to Mapes, Bastedo’s performance exemplifies the dynamic type of activity he envisions for the museum in the future.