Sixty-five cents for 65 years of history

Nathan Liewicki
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Western Development Museum (WDM) volunteer Hedy Olson, left, and board member Diana Ireland cut a 65th anniversary cake on Sunday. The WDM marked the occasion by decreasing the cost of admission to 65 cents in honour of the milestone.

Western Development Museum celebrates 65th anniversary

Cake is a necessary treat when marking a significant milestone.

Yellow frosting adorned the outer edges of the Western Development Museum’s (WDM) 65th anniversary cake on Sunday. The phrase ‘Celebrating 65 Years’ was also written out in yellow icing.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate 65 years of the Western Development Museum,” said Kathy Fitton, manager of the WDM. “This facility has been open since 1976, but there are four WDMs in the province.”

To mark the 65th anniversary, all four WDMs lowered the price of admission to 65 cents.

The first WDM opened in North Battleford in 1949 and was followed later that year by a structure erected in Saskatoon. In 1951, Yorkton received Saskatchewan’s third WDM.

Although the youngest of the four WDMs, Moose Jaw’s celebration of the history of transportation is unmistakable.

“I think it just shows how the people of this province value our heritage and culture. We're so fortunate because the exhibits and the artifacts we have on display here, the majority of those were donated to us,” Fitton said.

Keith Jelinski, a volunteer at the WDM for the last 16 years, was on hand Sunday to hand out souvenir books – dedicated to the history of all four WDMs – to anyone who wanted one.

He remembered the days of 1955 when old tractors and steamers were found in an old airport hangar in Saskatoon.

“That’s how we learned about history, through old equipment,” said Jelinski.

However, without the support of the province, board members, countless volunteers like Jelinski and the thousands of visitors, Fitton said the WDM would not be near as impactful as it is today.

“Whether it's coming to the museum as patrons, or whether it's volunteers, we could not function without them.”

As for the next 65 years, Fitton said Saskatchewanians are likely to see a number of new exhibits with a greater focus on more recent innovations.

“The face of the province is changing, but that's going to be reflected in our exhibits as well. I see at least another 65 years in our future.”

Fitton added that the museum is at a point in its history where the collection of post-Second World War Two items is upon them, specifically between the 1950s and 1970s.

“It's really easy for us to kind of forget what happened,” she said. “Yesterday is now history and we have to make sure we're being cognizant of that and collecting that for future generations.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Western Development Museum

Geographic location: Saskatoon, North Battleford, Yorkton Saskatchewan Moose Jaw

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