A new museum in the area could be up and running for Canada Day.
At last week’s council meeting, the Town of Battleford approved an agreement with the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association in which the SLSA will operate a museum out of the old Land Titles building near the former Government House.
The target date for the launch, according to Travis Wolfe, chair of the museum committee with the SLSA, is July 1, and “everything we’ve been seeing thus far has been leading us to that date.”
Artifacts include old surveying equipment such as old transits, tripods and survey monuments. Some artifacts, Wolfe said, were donated by members who have long since passed away.
Wolfe said the museum will feature newer items too, including GPS units no longer used “in the field.”
Wolfe said the museum will teach the public about the people who surveyed the province and tools they used. The museum will be staffed, Wolfe said.
The SLSA originally asked the town about locating a museum in the old St. Vital church. The Land Titles building has a specific connection to surveying, Wolfe said.
Surveyors would frequent land titles buildings for information such as title ownership and maps. Land titles buildings, Wolfe said, were “the hub of land transactions.”
Wolfe characterized the record keeping of the province and employees over the years as “nothing short of impeccable.”
“We can still pull up the records of the original township surveys and the original hand drawn field notes of the crews that did them,” Wolfe said.
According to the recent agreement, responsibilities of the SLSA include ongoing maintenance and operations of the museum, while the town is responsible for the facility and its conservation.
The SLSA asked to be under the town’s insurance, which, according to CAO John Enns-Wind in an administrative report, is a small cost.
The SLSA is not leasing the building, but spending money “to ensure the facility as a museum.”
Wolfe thanked Enns-Wind and local surveyor Mike Waschuk, who Wolfe said have “been instrumental in getting the project off the ground.”
Enns-Wind called the museum a “good step to start diversifying tourism here in the Battlefords.”
“I think it’s tremendous that we have an organization that wants to take over a historic building and revitalize it,” Mayor Ames Leslie said.
According to the Town of Battleford’s website, the Land Titles (Registry) Office, located 2.4 km south of Battleford on Old Highway No. 4, is the first known and oldest standing brick building built in the Province.
Constructed in 1877, it served as the Land Titles Office, housing all land deeds in the area when Battleford was the capital of the Northwest Territories, until 1907.
Between the years of 1907 to 1917 it had been sold to Henry Felix Smart and used as a private residence.
In 1955 the residence had been sold to Clinton Greenwood.
It was designated a Provincial Heritage Property in 1983.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Mike Waschuk's name as Mike Ewaschuk. The News-Optimist regrets the error.