Friends of Sunnybrook Farm Society have become the official owners of the popular agricultural attraction.
In a ceremony on Monday, the title for the 10-acre site was transferred to the society by the Red Deer and District Museum Society for a token $1.
A plaque was also unveiled recognizing the late Norman Bower’s donation in 1988 of the farm that his family first homesteaded in 1899.
Farm museum executive director Ian Warwick said transfer of ownership recognizes the farm society’s role as operator of the site since 1996. Since the society hadn’t been formed in 1988, the donation went to the museum society and an agriculture committee oversaw the farm.
But with the 25th anniversary of the farm museum to be celebrated next year, it was decided it was a good time to turn over ownership.
There are some practical advantages to having title, said Warwick.
Previously, when applying for grants, the farm society had to get approval from the museum because it owned the land and leased it to the farm society.
“That just added another bureaucratic step to the process. It didn’t stop us from doing the work, but it makes it a lot easier if we hold the title.”
Farm society president Jeremy Moore agreed that taking ownership will help their ongoing efforts to develop the site.
“We’re really pleased. It’s pretty exciting for the society.”
Lorna Johnson, Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery executive director, said the ownership transfer makes sense.
“It kind of gives us some clarity on our missions and it gives us independence in terms of applying for grants and funding for all sorts of things.”
The museum and art gallery plans to continue to collaborate with Sunnybrook in telling stories about the area’s past.
The farm museum society has plenty of projects lined up.
A heritage garage is almost complete and a mercantile store is planned next door to showcase the history of Alberta’s co-operative movement. Fundraising is also underway to add sewer and water service.
Another $250,000 project will see the Calder School renovated and put on foundations with a basement. The 80-year-old school was moved from its location about 20 km east of Innisfail to the museum in 2008.