Oak Lake museum receives special donations in 2020

As with most community groups our activities have very nearly ground to a halt. Nevertheless, with group texts and calls we have managed to carry on and get a few things done.


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First of all we would like express our appreciation to the Oak Lake Donor’s Choice and the people in the area who donated to the Museum in 2020. Since our fundraising events were cancelled this past year, we were very grateful to receive these funds.

Our gratitude as well to the Oak Lake and Area Foundation who very generously awarded the Museum $5000 along with our annual Aiken Fund contribution.

Back in 2019 the Oak Lake and Area Foundation informed us about a Manitoba Heritage Trust Program (MHTP) for museums and archives located outside of Winnipeg administered by the Winnipeg Foundation. This program would allow the Museum to place a deposit (50 per cent matched by the Winnipeg Foundation) on account with Endow Manitoba from which we would receive the interest annually. We initially felt that we couldn’t afford the initial investment of $2500 so we declined. Our local Foundation very generously donated the initial deposit so that we could take advantage of this opportunity. Not only that, private individuals have the option of making donations to this fund in the name of Oak Lake & District Museum, through our local Oak Lake and Area Foundation.

Over the past couple of years Carleigh Babiak and more recently Tanis Podobni have been instrumental in successfully applying for grants on our behalf. One such grant was the Heritage Resources Conservation Grant Program. This grant is aimed at St. Alban’s in particular, which is registered as a heritage building. This brings us back to summer 2020 when we had Ernie and Gregg Thiessen write up a very detailed and thorough estimate of costs and materials for the repairs and restorations. So, this past fall they began work on St. Alban’s focusing initially on critical repairs. You might have noticed the flock of disgruntled pigeons flying around Oak Lake recently evicted from their home—the St. Alban’s bell tower! As we raise funds St. Alban’s, St. Athanasius, and St. David’s will all get some needed attention.

Over the past year we’ve gotten some pretty special donations, one being the second of three telephone switchboards that were used in the Oak Lake Telephone office. The building is now used as the Aspen Street Market. We’re told that the third switchboard might be in Beulah.

Our back shed was enclosed with tin by Clare Moir, Marvin Elder and Rodney Cairns giving us some secure storage.

We had one small group come to tour the Museum buildings—the Wheat City WI led by Esther Findlay came to visit.

Sadly, our biggest fundraising event of the year, the Santa Brunch, had to be cancelled, but we were still able to sell memory lights which is usually done in conjunction with that event.

Even though 2020 has been a very unusual year we were still able to keep things moving forward, and we are very thankful for that.

- Sandra Harris

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