The old Sunnybrook Farm windmill that was blown down in a windstorm has been re-erected outdoors just a couple weeks before the museum’s delayed opening on July 1.
Executive director Ian Warwick said he anticipates only opening for July and August this year, once enough central Albertans are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We’d talked about allowing the space to be used as a park,” said Warwick — but a decision was made to open later in the season, as pandemic restrictions ease.
The museum grounds and the playground have been open to the public since June 10.
The farm animals will be arriving at the museum before the official opening on Canada Day, according to the museum’s Facebook page. Summer day camp programs will also start up in July.
Although the opening of the farm museum is delayed, Warwick said there was still plenty of maintenance work to do: volunteer Bob Hoiss has been reassembling the farm’s aging windmill, which was re-erected on June 18.
Warwick said a windstorm in August last year had toppled the windmill and volunteers have spent the past year repairing the damage to the 1918 Baker Monitor model windmill – which is 10 ft. in diameter and stands on top of a 28 ft. tower.
Other volunteers, who have been vaccinated, have been mowing the site and fixing up farm machinery.
Warwick said he hadn’t encouraged the older volunteers to come in last year, but since they recently got their shots there’s less danger of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
This fall, the farm’s heritage buildings collection will increase with the addition of the Willowdale Presbyterian Church from southeast of Red Deer.
This small, steepled place of worship, which hasn’t been used since the dwindling congregation merged with another Presbyterian church, will be preserved to show visitors where about 50 people would have gathered for Sunday services in about 1950. Warwick said it will also be rented out for weddings and other celebrations.
He said a $250,000 donation was made to the museum so a church could be added to its on-site collection of heritage buildings. These now include the rural Calder school, a red barn and a pioneer log home.
The museum’s administrative offices have moved out of the 1930s house once occupied by Norman and Iva Bower and were relocated to the Calder school. While there are long-term plans to restore the Bower house, the Red Deer Aboriginal Dance Troupe has been renting it for office space in the meantime.
Warwick said he looks forward to the return of visitors to the farm museum this summer.