Fort Ostell Museum prepares for busy summer

This week's Reflections discusses the busy Fort Ostell Museum.

Fort Ostell Museum Manager Sandy Alsopp (left) and summer staff members Harriet Evans and Kiana Bugarin stand beside the new “Yesterday’s Toys” display

Fort Ostell Museum Manager Sandy Alsopp (left) and summer staff members Harriet Evans and Kiana Bugarin stand beside the new “Yesterday’s Toys” display

The Fort Ostell Museum,  neatly situated in the northwest corner of the pristine Ponoka Lion’s Centennial Park has been diligently collecting the artifacts of our town and district’s long and colorful history since the founding of the Fort Ostell Museum Society on June 25, 1967, and as an active non-profit organization, it has complemented our community for 48 years.  With the new summer staff members Harriet Evans and Kiana Bugarin now in place, congenial Museum Manager Sandra Alsopp is really looking forward to a busy season of special events, preparing new displays,  welcoming travelling exhibits, and playing host to many  visitors of all ages from in and around the community as well as throughout our province and beyond.

Throughout the years, many of our local school classes love visiting the museum, browsing through the many exhibits full of ‘really neat things’, asking lots of questions about our colorful past, making bannock and usually getting some treats as well as a chance to ring the huge welcome bell at the front door. The temperature controlled ‘display room’ is one of the unique and amazing features of the Fort Ostell Museum, which features many very authentic showcases of our proud and exciting history, and where visitors young and old can enjoy learning how our ancestors lived, worked and played hard together, what they ate, what they wore, and how they shared and made do with what they had or invented something to make it work better. Some of the highlights of your casual ‘stroll into the good old days’ will include an early school room, a 100-year-old kitchen/bedroom/living room/ and nursery, a native and military section, the Alberta Hospital collection, the first methods of transportation and much, much more. Visitors are able to get up close and personal with over 10,000 early items such as the actual tools, appliances, clothes for all ages, books, sports equipment, toys, games, and everything else that was required for our hardy early pioneers families to survive and succeed through the countless elements and constant challenges that they faced over those rugged and exciting decades during the rapid urban and rural growth in and around Ponoka. The entire Ponoka museum is full of historical treasures, hundreds of original photos, artifacts, and even a few delightful lifelike mannequins wearing the uniforms and costumes of our glorious past. The newest display that has just been completed at Fort Ostell is called ‘Yesterday’s Toys’ and will bring back many great memories of the games that we as adults used to play when we were kids. Who will ever forget Snakes and Ladders (now Shoots and Ladder), Monopoly (The special Ponoka edition), Parlour Croquet, Pin Ball Battleships, Rummoli (I always lost lots of nickels), Po-Ke-No, and many others designed to keep kids (and adults) busy on rainy days? Also featured are the first remote control Tonka Tractors, a handmade hockey game courtesy of the Pateman family, a 15-toe skateboard, and a set of Sta-Lox miniature building blocks, which were later replaced by the Lego craze, which is still going wild to this day.

Welcome to the new museum summer staff.

Harriet Evans was born in England, and in the early years of her life was an ‘Air Force Brat’, living with her parents Andrea and Rich in England, Germany and Cyprus before moving to Canada and later settling here in Ponoka. Harriet graduated from the Ponoka Composite High School in 2013, and in the fall will be going into her third year at the University of Calgary, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history and a minor in English.

Kiana Bugarin was born and raised in Ponoka, and her parents are Rod and Sharla. She also graduated from the Ponoka Composite High School in 2013, and in the fall will be going into her second year of studies in Business with a major in marketing at the University of Saskatchewan.

Summer hours at the Fort Ostell Museum are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with group tours, meetings, gatherings, and special events arranged by dropping in or calling 403-783-5224. After or before a visit to the Fort Ostell Museum, guests can enjoy a picnic or a walk in the adjacent park, or the kids can dash and splash in the new Ponoka Lion’s Splash Park or playground. Some of the events that have already been planned for this summer will include: The Heritage Tea on Saturday, August 1, which will celebrate our proud native heritage and a Ponoka Day in the park on Friday, August 28, which will feature a Teddy Bear Picnic at the Gazebo. Sandy and Kiana and Harriet and the kindly volunteers at the Fort Ostell Museum in Ponoka looking forward to greeting and meeting everyone this summer.