Souris, MB – Sitting atop the banks of Souris River, the Hillcrest Museum resembles an old English castle and is a Manitoban architectural marvel. However, the 107-year-old landmark is run almost exclusively through the good will of volunteers. And despite their best efforts, the building is beginning to show its age.
“There’s very little in the way of operating funds available,” said museum Treasurer Kevin Bowie.
Hillcrest Museum is open every July and August, but because they rely so heavily on tourist activity and donations, the museum has struggled to keep its doors open even for those two months.
Thankfully, Hillcrest received a boost when farmer and Souris local Dustin Williams nominated the Hillcrest Museum for Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities (CFGC).
“As a small pioneer town, I think it’s really important to maintain your heritage and tell the story of who built this community,” said Williams. “Local history is very important.”
Williams said community landmarks like Hillcrest are what encourage people to stick around. That’s why he felt the museum would be the best destination for the grant money.
His family also has a personal connection with the museum.
“My kids take an annual trip to it every year, and they were happy to hear our community got the award,” said Williams. “It’s important to teach your kids to give back.”
Hillcrest Museum will use the grant to help restore the structure to its former glory. The $2,500 will contribute to the restoration of Hillcrest and to a second building that showcases farming equipment.
“The very first people that settled here took up farming right away. It’s played an important part of the economy of our whole area,” said Bowie.
And the fact that a farmer is responsible for winning this grant makes perfect sense to Bowie, even if it took some luck.
“We feel kind of special, actually. We’re a small town here, and to think of the number of applicants they get, I can’t even imagine. We were one of the lucky ones,” Bowie said with a laugh.