Claybank's centennial celebration fires up

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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When visitors come out to Claybank’s 100th anniversary on Sunday, Hilda Maier will be grinning.

Bricks at the Claybank Brick Plant are seen on June 24, 2007.

“It’s so great when you see families come out and the kids are all having a great time and mom and dad are having a good time and it’s a beautiful day,” said Maier, who is the executive director of the Claybank Brick Plant Historical Society. “Of course we’re as green as anything out here now because we’ve had lots of rain … Rain or shine, we go anyway because lots of our things are done undercover.”

The Claybank Brick Plant Heritage Day 100th anniversary celebration will take place on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Located 10 kilometres west of Avonlea on Highway 339 the brick plant is a national historic site.

The 100th anniversary will have children’s activities such as face painting and a clown, as well as musical entertainment during the day by Steve Palmer and Bob Evans. There will be a food concession with homemade bakery items. Beverage gardens will be open from noon to 6 p.m.

There will be a number of hands-on activities for people to try as well, including a spinning wheel, pottery, rope making and bricklaying. There will also be demonstrations like the blacksmith and other heritage events.

“We’re trying to make our 100th anniversary special by adding to what we normally do here each year and that includes continuation of the Lil’ Jigger ride onto a hay wagon and a tour of the village of Claybank,” said Maier. “There would be narration there as well.”

Historic machinery will be up and running and former employees will be on site. “They will tell stories on what it was like to work here and show you how the machines work and stuff like that,” said Maier. “You can go up to the Massold Clay Canyons and hike around there during the day if you like.”

Until 1989, the plant was a manufacturing brick plant.

“We manufactured refractory brick, which is high-heat brick so it’s a very specialized kind of brick. It’s used in places with high heat, like say the launch pads in Cape Canaveral used our brick because of the testing base and the blasting of the launch pads there,” said Maier.

“They used our brick in the fire boxes of locomotives and all kinds of high-heat situations and … the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, the main tower, is made out of our brick. So it’s a very unique colour.”

The brick came in dark and light colours. Any buildings with geometric patterns on the bricks come from Claybank, including many buildings in Moose Jaw and Regina.

For instance, in Moose Jaw, the Mae Wilson Theatre is made of Claybank brick.

Admission for the 100th celebration and heritage day is $10 per person or $25 for families living under the same roof.

Any families who pay the $25 admission will receive a free 2014 membership, allowing anyone to come back to the site free of charge to go hiking or any other activities. It will also include the plant’s yearly newsletter.

Kids aged six years and under are free. Once admission is paid, everything else is free.

For more information, call the plant at 306-868-4474 or visit claybank.sasktelwebsite.net.

Lisa Goudy can be reached at 306-691-1289 or follow her on Twitter @lisagoudy

Organizations: Claybank Brick Plant Historical Society, Chateau Frontenac, Mae Wilson Theatre

Geographic location: Claybank, Moose Jaw, Cape Canaveral Quebec City Regina

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