Tag Archives: Unity and District Heritage Museum

First impressions report — room for improvement

Last week, we reported on the positive first impressions of Unity as noted by visitors from Maple Creek when they spent a day in our town late last summer. As stated last week, along with the positives, our guests also gave us some constructive criticism when they completed their First Impressions surveys forms, as provided by the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association’s First Impressions program.

A frequently mentioned theme in the comments was the lack of signage and not knowing how to get to the downtown or where it was. As luck would have it, the Maple Creek people were in Unity Aug. 26; the new “ShopportUNITY” signs pointing the way to downtown were installed shortly afterwards, to be followed in short order by the directional signs.

ShopportUNITY

Both sets of signs and the large “OpportUNITY in Unity” signs were a joint project of the Town of Unity and the Unity and District Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is a volunteer organization of local businesses and in total contributed $8,000 for the bright, up-to-date signage.

Along with multiple comments on the lack of signs generally, the visitors also noted that there was “no sign on the rink.”

Once the First Impressions participants found the Unity downtown area, despite the then-lack of signage, they were impressed with the variety of shopping available, but noted “Needed to be more garbage cans, seating and floral displays/greenery in the downtown core.”

In general window displays were found to be lacking and individual signage by stores and businesses also came in for some criticism. Specific comments included: “signs on business downtown were hard to read;” storefronts were generally ‘blah;’” “saw only one window display, and only the bottom 15 (inches) as all stores had their blinds down;” and “majority of businesses did not seem to have window displays.”

To sum up the impression given by Unity’s downtown area, it was clean and serviceable but lacked some oomph; although the murals did receive favourable comments.

Perceptions of service were mostly favourable but with a few commenting on being kept waiting or sales staff seeming uninterested in answering questions. Perhaps a reminder to business owners to remind employees of the importance of customer service?

Another issue noted was inconsistency of business hours, with the suggestion being made that all, or at least most, businesses should be open the same days and hours so both residents and visitors can plan accordingly.

Another spot in Unity which received mixed reviews was Memorial Park. Positives were the paved pathways, green space and the cenotaph itself, drawing the comment, “The cenotaph is extraordinary! Beautiful sculpture of a WWI soldier at the top.”

Cenotaph, Unity, Saskatchewan

While the setting for the memorial was described as “beautiful, peaceful and moving,” the flower and shuddery beds around the cenotaph were described as “overgrown” by more than one commentator. Someone added the park seems to be “under-utilized.” More than one person suggested benches and/or picnic tables might improve Memorial Park, both in appeal and use. The “gorgeous mature trees” were appreciated but “some of them require pruning.”

The Unity and District Heritage Museum and grounds received much attention and many comments. A common theme in articles in the Unity Wilkie Press-Herald over the past couple of years has been a request for more volunteers to help at the museum. Please keep the need for additional volunteers in mind as you read the following comments.

People checking out the Highway 21 north entrance to town commented, “the grass and weeds growing up among the machinery” gave the impression of an industrial compound rather than an enclosure for an outdoor museum. “Removing the weeds would have made it more obvious that the machinery were artifacts.”

Also described as “a currently under-utilized community asset,” it was suggested “Even just enhancing the basic visitor experience with interpretive panels (and/or) a self-guided walking touring booklet … would make the visitor experience more compelling and memorable.”

Other suggestions in general made by the First Impressions out-of-town participants included walking path maps; partnering with industrial businesses such as Sifto Salt to create a regular tour schedule to attract tourists; offering tours at KC Rescue; restoring downtown buildings to take their heritage character into account; expanding upon the murals, “possibly paired with a street chalk festival;” listing dates and events on signage at the rodeo grounds; educating front-line sales staff at downtown businesses on “what there is to do in Unity;” and developing more cultural activity.

In their introduction to the report, the Maple Creek team reminded Unity readers, “The comments in this report are … in no way meant to be critical. The team greatly enjoyed the visit to Unity and found it to be a lovely community. It is our sincere hope that you find some of our comments and first impressions of some value.”

Next week – what Unity First Impressions participants learned on their trip to Maple Creek.

Unity Museum News – St. Patrick’s Day supper Monday

The summer season is fast approaching so the Unity Museum in Unity, SK, is starting to stir.

Our first big fundraiser of the year is upon us. March 17, we are holding our annual St Patrick’s Day supper at the Adanac Hall. We decided to change it up for this year and we hope you will come to support us. We are serving some good old beef stew with biscuits, scones or buns, and a very good salad, and some great tasting desserts. The cost is $10 a plate and the tickets are on sale, so contact Bill Meek or Jim Sego for tickets.

There will be entertainment too, so a very fun filled evening is planned with lots of great food. Hope to see you there and remember we only have 80 tickets for sale.

We are also in the need of someone for summer staff. This entails tours/guiding; cleaning of buildings, a few office duties and maybe some gardening/watering. Our senior summer worker will unfortunately be away in May and maybe into June before she will be back to do some of the office/donation duties. If you are interested, please send us your resume, ASAP, to UDHM at Box 852, Unity, SK. S0K 4L0.

Resumes should be in before April 15 for interviews. The hours during the month of May will be longer as the buildings need to be prepared for opening day, then you will work 2-5 p.m. weekdays. We hope to get volunteers to do the weekends so the museum can be open seven days a week.

Canada Day at the museumQuite a few long-time projects were completed last year at the museum, but there are always other projects added. Our two one-room schools need some TLC. The stucco needs to be crack-filled, then painted before we end up doing some major reno’s on them. The trim on them also need some painting done. We just need to find some able bodied workers for this project as our members are unable to this job alone.

The men at the shop also have a few projects lined up for this year – some tree stump removals, spraying of machinery row and tidying up at the south end of the grounds. Some of the boardwalk needs to be replaced as the bottom runners have rotted away, and then there is the July 1 celebration events that need to be planned as that is fast approaching. So there is much to plan and do.

We are still looking for new members so, if you are interested, please contact one of the museum members to see what it entails. It includes things such as attending monthly meetings, volunteering at said functions in whatever capacity you can to help us out or just being the best PR person you can be for UDHM and the Town of Unity. Our grounds and buildings are a Saskatchewan Attraction and a part of Tourism Saskatchewan, and we are very proud of them.

We do look forward to seeing and hearing from you this summer. Your support is very much appreciated. Thank you from Unity and District Heritage Museum.

Unity Museum in trouble – willing hands desperately needed

(From information submitted by museum board representative)

We have some serious concerns at the Unity and District Heritage Museum (UDHM). Over the past few years our membership numbers have dropped fast and no other people are coming forward to pick up the torch.

Our membership is down to 12-15 people and only a quarter of these show up for meetings. We had 36 members in 2013 and in 2014 we are down to 13 members. Can we survive?

Due to a lack of volunteers, no brunches were scheduled for the end of 2013. We started them Jan. 12, and plan to have them each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the end of April, but we are still low on volunteer numbers.

Of our life members, the people who started the museum up, we only have seven left and only one of these still works at the museum. The other six have done their part and were hoping others would step forward and take over for them but so far this has not happened.

We have such interesting buildings and such special donations from local families. Everything we have, school books, Bibles, household items, clothing, dolls, military, etc., is a reflection of our town and surrounding area. Everyone has a bit of family history here, but for what if we let it die and rot away?

Unity, SK Museum

The sod house at the Unity and District Heritage Museum.

We have a wonderful museum. Visitors are impressed by how much we have for such a small town. When they hear all the items have been donated, not bought, they are even more impressed.

We need some new blood, younger generations who want to see these items cared for and cherished so others can enjoy them in the future. There is so much that could be done to make the museum the talk of Saskatchewan, but we need more members. You can’t depend on just four or five people to keep it going alone. They are getting tired and are feeling unappreciated.

We are asking for your help. Come and join our membership and give your voice and vote to what goes on at this museum. Please join us, and pay the dues — they will not break you: $2 for a year, $5 for three years. Attend the monthly meetings where programs, events and fundraisers can be discussed and planned. Let us keep this museum open for our future.

Our executive members – Bill Meek (president), Gorden McLean (vice-president) and Jim Sego (secretary) –  will answer any questions you have about UDHM.

We do appreciate all this town does do for us but we also see a grim future. We hope this knowledge of our situation will inspire some of you to help us by being museum members willing to become involved at UDHM.

P.S. If you are interested in a part-time summer job as a tour guide from 2-5 p.m., four to five days a week, please send us your resume to Box 852, Unity. The summer season is fast approaching.