It was a cold day with near whiteout conditions, but that didn’t stop Lydia Cherkas, president of the Kamsack Powerhouse Museum, from venturing out to open the doors at the Kamsack Museum for a special peek inside.
The museum has been closed for the past year for numerous reasons due to pandemic concerns. Not only does the museum board consist of elderly or compromised individuals, the cancellation of community fundraising events and the cessation of tourism has resulted in locked doors for as long as anyone can guess.
Local residents who have not yet found an opportunity to visit the museum, may be amazed to see the impressive collection of antiques, heirlooms, and historical relics of Kamsack’s past. Through thousands of carefully preserved items, the museum seems to house a number of stories of how life was once lived in these parts.
One room is filled entirely with items from an old fashioned doctor’s office. Another room displays a number of curious pieces of equipment once used to operate a hair salon. As if frozen in time, an old country kitchen features many items used in cooking, cleaning and storage. Tucked away in cases, hanging in closets or dressed on mannequins, are clothing items made of natural fibres like wool, fur, or hide, along with quilts and pillows with intricate hand-stitched detail.
Nestled safely behind the glass of a display cabinet inside the museum is a rare collection of vintage Valentine’s Day cards that whisper secrets of love shared between residents of days passed. The cards are well preserved, many of them textured with multiple layers and scalloped edges. The colours on the valentines are muted, albeit still vivid in the printing style from the early 1900s. Consistent themes throughout the collection include chubby cherubs with wings, flowers, hats, ribbons, and birds.
Cherkas explained that the museum is supported by government grants, the tireless attention of a group of dedicated volunteers, and support from the community through fundraisers like pancake breakfasts and picnics.
“Of course, these days we can’t hold community events like we used to,” said Cherkas. “We can’t even really get together to have meetings. Since we don’t know when we’ll be able to open again, we don’t really have anything to meet about anyway.”
Cherkas said she and others come around the museum every now and then to do light cleaning, work on fixing and organizing displays, and check for pests like mice. The closure has given volunteers an opportunity to work on improvements at their own pace.
At its peak in 1953, the Kamsack Powerhouse Museum provided power to Kamsack, Verigin, Pelly, Runnymede, Togo, and St. Phillips by burning anthracite coal. While the form of energy was efficient, it wasn’t uncommon for workers to show up and find their co-workers passed out from the fumes. On October 16, 1978, the former powerhouse transitioned to become the Kamsack and District Museum, which is now known as the Kamsack Powerhouse Museum.
Those wishing to make a donation to support the museum can connect with the board through the museum’s Facebook page or contact Cherkas directly. Any donations exceeding $100 will earn a spot for the giver’s name on a display located by the front entrance.