Thirty years ago, in 1979, a small group of residents in the Hamlet of Frenchman Butte gathered and decided to accept the gift of the local Canadian National Railways train station and to use it as the basis for establishing a heritage museum. One of those present, Lloyd Furman, offered to add his extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia to further enhance the building.
From this modest beginning the museum has grown, expanding over the years into a complex of about 10 buildings, situated right in the center of the hillside hamlet 45 minutes’ drive northeast of Lloydminster, just off Highway 797.
Huge strides forward have been accomplished in the last few years under the direction of President Tom Hougham and a host of willing volunteers. In 2013 the centre was voted “Best small town museum in Saskatchewan” in the prestigious magazine “Prairie’s North.” At the time it was a significant accomplishment – but you should see the facility now. An example os the latest expansion is the Recreation Vehicle (RV) Park on the east end of the complex, complete with 10 sites providing services to visiting campers.
Sunday, Aug. 11, the Frenchman Butte Heritage Centre is celebrating its 40th Anniversary with their best-ever Museum Festival Day. The organization welcomes everyone with an interest in Western Canadian heritage to join them, spend the day in their celebration of Festival Day at their Centre’s complex, enjoying the many exciting events. Being a Sunday, the day begins with an open air Church Service at 10:30am; the entire museum facility will be open to visitors all during the day, except while the street parade passes by. Numerous performers will be providing free stage entertainment, a classic car “Show & Shine” and exhibit displays and demonstrations of pioneer skills. A live, old time threshing demonstration will be featured at 4 p.m. A huge silent auction is provided to browse through and open bidding on the extensive line of donated items is open ‘till 3:30 p.m.
There is a multitude of things for kids after the parade at the museum too: face painting, kids’ games; mini-golf; and a playground to hold their attention.
Food is available in the form of hot dogs and home-made pies (with dollops of ice cream), available throughout the day to curb an appetite. At 5 p.m., enjoy a succulent roast beef plate, supper at $15 per plate (kids 6-10 are $5, under 6 are free).
Parks Canada returned this summer to complete enhancement work at the Frenchman Butte National Historic Site of 1885. An extensive clean-out and brush removal program was initiated with the 1885’s battle refugee and Warrior rifle-pits that line the nearby valley. The results are spectacular, and as a result we have an exhibit of great value for the visitor to explore on their way home after supper. Similarly, Ol’ Fort Pitt has received improvements a few years ago with the fort’s building outlines defined and story-boards added. Touring these sites on the way home in the evening will take about an hour each and directions are available from Staff in the Lloyd Furman Exhibit building.
Don’t miss out on the celebrations; time slips by when you’re having fun, and at the museum that’s the technique we use to learn about and experience our past – having fun.