By Sam Donnelly
The Castor and District Museum Society is finally ready for its grand reopening after a difficult few years.
After being closed for a majority of the past five years due to renovations and the pandemic, the Castor and District Museum Society is finally ready to hold its grand reopening ceremony on March 28.
“We’re extremely happy with the finished product,” said the former president of the museum’s board of directors, Mike Bain.
According to Bain, the reopening will feature tours of all the museums throughout Castor, including the Grain Elevator, Machine Shop and Beaver School to name a few.
There will also be free hot dogs, coffee and hamburgers at the grand reopening event.
Part of the grand reopening will be used to rededicate the museum to Tom Embree, a pioneer, business person and collector of early Castor memorabilia.
The museum was deemed unsafe in 2017 after the wooden railway ties underneath the freight shed portion of the museum started to rot causing a partial collapse of the shed floor.
After some fundraising, the Castor and District Museum Society started renovations in 2018 by demolishing the old freight shed.
By October 2019, the renovations were completed. According to Bain, they made several renovations to the outside of the rest of the museum including adding new windows, repainting and re-shingling the roof of the complete structure.
On the inside, they added a new heating system and insulation.
By the time the museum team had re-displayed the exhibits the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to close the museum once again.
According to Bain, this might have been a blessing in disguise as the increased time allowed them to put a little more thought into the displays.
Bain said they wanted the displays to tell stories from Castor’s history.
“We don’t see our museum as a dumping ground for old antiques. We want to tell the story of our community,” said Bain
He said that the displays will show the community’s history of coal mining, oil and gas and agriculture.
The Castor and District Museum Society has undergone the task of digitally archiving the entire archives of the Castor Advance.
According to Bain, they’ve so far digitized the first 10 years of the Advance’s publications. Visitors can go into the museum’s research room and view these digitized articles.
Bain said that the Museum Society’s main hope is that the community will come out and see the renovated museum. Bain continued that the support of the community allows them to continually improve the museums all over Castor.
“We are so grateful for the support we get from the community,” said Bain.
According to Bain, going into the future they’d like to do more restoration, improve labelling and tell even more stories.
He said the next big project is finishing up the restoration of Castor’s Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator. Bain said they hope to have that project finished by this September.
The Castor and District Museum is open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m and will be open through the end of October as usual.