With over 100 years behind the community, Eckville has a lot of history and stories to tell.
On Sept. 21, the Eckville and District Historical Society (EDHS) will be calling a meeting for area residents, in the hopes of determining community support for a local museum that will be located within the town’s first hospital building on 50th Street.
“I really believe it’s important to preserve your history,” said Helen Posti, former Eckville mayor and volunteer with the EDHS. “You need to know where you came from and it gives you a better direction for where you’re going.”
Posti said for new people that move into the community, it will be nice for them to know how their new home came to be.
“A lot of people don’t even realize the town was moved. The original townsite was closer to the river, northwest of the current town, but it was moved when the railway came,” Posti explained.
In July, the town granted a development permit for the EDHS to be able to operate a museum, heritage and cultural centre out of the town’s first hospital and the permit is valid for one year. The EDHGS also has a donation agreement in place, providing for the title of the building to be transferred to the EDHS once the museum is underway.
“Before the historical society takes ownership, we want to know if there are people out there that will support it,” said Posti. “And not just in thought, but would they come out and volunteer? It doesn’t need a lot, but it does need some work and we do need support from some younger people, not just us older people.”
On Sept. 12, EDHS members Pat Lightbrown and Posti will be making a presentation to Eckville’s town council and asking the town to waive the utility costs and property taxes on the museum for the first year.
“We can’t take that building if we don’t have the money to cover the taxes and utilities for the first year,” explained Posti. “It takes time to do fundraising. And even with donations, you have to know you’ll have enough.”
The EDHS is asking for the town to waive the water, sewer, garbage and property taxes, and the group will also be asking council for money from the town’s museum fund to cover electricity, gas and insurance for the year.
Posti said the EDHS has been around for many years and the group has published two books about the history of Eckville and the surrounding area.
“We have had some community support, but we want to know if there’s solid commitment,” she said. “The number of people that have called me that were born in that hospital is unreal.”
Posti said the museum wouldn’t be limited to the history of the hospital, but it would include all kinds of items from the local area, encompassing different nationalities that settled the area and different decades. The EDHS is proposing to name the museum after Dr. Frank Coppock, in recognition of his outstanding medical contributions to Eckville and the surrounding area.
“The old hospital is now 101 years old but is in fairly good condition given its age,” stated a press release from the EDHS. “This is Eckville’s last significant heritage building and the executive of the historical society believes that this building must be preserved. Museums play an important role in preserving the history and culture of an area. Eckville has a rich, diverse and unique history that must be recorded and preserved. Eckville’s heritage and history needs a home. There are many stories to tell and record. The Dr. Frank Coppock Memorial Museum would be the perfect place to preserve this rich and important history.”
“We’re really excited,” Posti said.
The community meeting will be held on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Eckville’s first hospital, located at 5204 50th St.