The Arborg Heritage Village celebrated their tenth Anniversary on May 26 with half-price tours of their museum that showcases buildings and stories that are a proud part of the community’s past.
The heritage site has been open for ten years, while the village was incorporated 19 years ago. It received the Manitoba Star Attraction Designation on September 30, 2015.
The volunteer driven site offers guided tours of a church, a school, homes and other relics of days gone by.
The museum is home to relocated buildings and artifacts that represent Icelandic, Ukrainian, Polish and Indigenous cultures, among others, paying tribute to the wide variety of cultures that have called the region home over the years, according to their website.
Touring the turn of the 19th century
The tenth anniversary was a celebration of all the hard work that’s been done, said founding member Pat Eyolfson, who spearheaded the project in 1999.
“We had our first meeting on February 15, 1999,” Eyolfson explained to The Interlake Spectator.
“It was just an informal community meeting, and from there we struck up a grassroots committee, and then the rest just continued on. We became incorporated in May of that year, got charitable status by December and moved our first building onsite October 13 2000,” she said.
The heritage village was not able to open until they were finished moving in buildings and restoring them. “Every building cost nearly $50 to 60,000 to restore, and the hall cost about $150,000 to restore,” Eyolfson explained.
The first and oldest house that was moved onto the property was Vigfusson House, which has a special door attached to the outside of it that allows tourists to see how the wood was specially fit together, without nails, showcasing the roman numerals etched onto wood, according to one of the volunteer tour guides, David Gislason.
Also onsite is the home that Bjorn and Lara Sigvaldason and their 16 children called home for over 50 years with many of the artifacts original to the family. The Interpretive Centre exhibit depicts what life was like 100 years ago and the St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church which came from Bjarmi, also has most of its original artifacts including an all glass candle chandelier. The church was also re-santioned after restoration so church services could be held in there again.
The Kowalsky house was moved on site in the summer of 2009 and Poplar Heights School is a one room schoolhouses dating back to the early 1900’s, which is also one of the newest buildings on the tour.
Other features of the heritage village include Brandson House, the Ukrainian Bake Oven, and the Hykaway Grist Mill, one of the last grist mills left in Canada.
Eyolfson said that all three of her children have volunteered with the heritage village over the years and that approximately 48,000 volunteer hours have been put into the site since it’s inception. It was just a blank canvas of 12.9 acres of open prairie field, when they began, she explained.
Town Counsellor and Deputy Mayor of Arborg, Rob Thorsteinson, said that he enjoys taking the tour in support of the heritage village.
“It’s been (a) good (day). I’ve been on this tour many times,” he said. Thorstein and his wife were there to support the heritage site, then offered a bit of history about the village and its committee. “They came to town counsel when they first started. The town owned this land and the town sold it to them for $1, that’s how this all started,” he said.
“The provincial government has helped us almost every year with money from Community Places program. We usually get about a third for whatever we are working on (for our) projects, and couldn’t have done it without their help,” Eyolfson said.
“I grew up in Arborg all my life,” said Ken Poleschuk, who’s nickname is Bear. “I’ve been on the tour before and it’s good, the (guides) know lots of stuff, and what they don’t know, I fill them in on,” he said, laughing.
“Nothing but good comments,” Poleschuk concluded.
The village is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and children 12-years and older cost, $5 for children under 12, and children 3-years-old and younger are free.
“We step into the past in a fun and educational way, offering different events for children to learn and seniors to relive wonderful memories. Located along the Icelandic River, our 12.9 acre plot is a peaceful place to visit and spend a nice summer day. The Heritage Village also features a campground, complete with electricity, fire pits, picnic tables and washrooms available for use at all hours of the day,” their website said.
For more information, visit arborgheritagevillage.ca.