WATROUS — The Watrous-Manitou Beach Heritage Centre will be opening its doors to the public for the first time this week.
“It’s new, and we’re charting unknown waters here,” said Kathy Bergen, a member of the heritage centre board committee that has raised a total of $389,000 for the centre’s development. “Nobody here has ever done this before, so we’ve had to learn everything from scratch.”
With SaskWater’s former building at 403 Main Street recently purchased and partially renovated, the committee is preparing a soft opening on June 28.
“For now, we're just letting people come in and see the work in progress,” Bergen said.
The heritage centre – a concept now eight years in the making – is really important for the sake of preserving community history that would otherwise be lost, Bergen said. This includes several photograph collections, spoken stories, and equipment from Watrous’s historic CBK radio station, demolished in 2015.
Also included are scale model buildings created by the late Orin McIntosh, who passed in 2018. They include Watrous’s water tower, grain elevator, CBK transmitter building and tuning house, All Saint’s Anglican Church and Danceland at Manitou Beach.
Bergin said the McIntosh family “is very excited that we have featured his buildings in the heritage centre. Otherwise, it might have gone elsewhere to another museum.”
The history of Watrous and Manitou Beach “is very deep and rich,” said Bergen, and deserves to stay within the community.
The committee will plan a grand opening for an undecided future date, Bergen said, when they will “honour our founders and some of the other major donors, and then kind of make a splash.”
The certre’s five founders were those who donated $50,000 or more. They include Centennial Ford, Watrous Co-op, Mainline Motors, Watrous’s Westby Family, and George and Marlene Squires, who were born in the town. Other funds were raised through different levels of donations and events, such as a number of golf tournaments.
“We have a really good interest from locals that grew up here, and now their kids are here, so we're pretty confident on handing it down, or handing it off to future generations,” said Bergen.
The soft opening is on Friday, June 28.