Just last year, Wenda Paton was handing over the keys for her Elkhorn store, Past and Present, to a new owner. Now, she’s been given the keys to a brand new adventure as manager of the Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum in Elkhorn.
“It is definitely not what I am used to, but I am enjoying it. I told my family this was my retirement job!”
After taking over from the previous manager, Richard Hainer, Paton has already found much to love about the sprawling museum, which encompasses the main exhibition hall with the vehicles and other artifacts, plus several historic buildings on the grounds like the one-room schoolhouse and pioneer home.
“I love the warmth and the character of the old antiques. I also very much enjoy meeting people from all over the world. Even just open a short time this spring, we have had quite a few people already from England.
“I also like that the museum is the heart of our small town, it’s a hidden gem!”
While the Elkhorn museum is world famous and attracts antique car lovers from far and wide, Paton has plans to make it even better.
She is working on setting up a general store in the front of the museum to sell local and made-in-Manitoba items and some antiques. And she’s toying with another “blast from the past” idea.
“Maybe the guests could sit in a couple of cars, we could make the ‘50s and ‘60s cars into a drive-in.”
Paton may not have experience with old cars, but the skills she once used to turn her Elkhorn store into a regional destination for shoppers will come in handy when marketing the auto museum to a larger audience.