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Embracing Memories and Making New Ones

Connection and memories of the WDM come in many forms.
Celebrate our 75th anniversary with us by sharing your WDM memories.
These WDM memories will be featured here, on social media or Sparks towards our 75th anniversary celebration.

In August 1953, George Shepherd was offered the job of Curator of the WDM. In his book, West of Yesterday, George wrote about how excited he was to work at the WDM, “I think I would probably have paid my new employers to let me work there.”

Imagine walking through a museum and seeing your picture among the exhibits. While that doesn’t happen to everyone, it did happen to Mary Ann Scherr of Yorkton. While strolling through the 100 Years of Saskatchewan History exhibit at the WDM Yorkton, Mary Ann saw her younger self in a 1965 Saskatchewan Diamond Jubilee photo. In the photo, Mary Ann and a group of fellow musicians are about to perform on CFQC-TV in Saskatoon. Mary Ann was surprised and pleased to see this part of her life reflected in the WDM.

Len McDonald of Regina has volunteered at the WDM Moose Jaw for 10 years. Len came to the WDM as a member of the Royal Astronomical Society who was volunteering with the Museum Day school program. Len felt a connection with the WDM and started volunteering for other activities as well, making the trip from Regina to do so. One of Len’s volunteer duties is conductor on the Short Line 101 where he meets folks from around the world. What Len loves about the WDM is, “It’s a chance to meet people and do things I’m interested in.”

Joyce with Amanda and Ashley, 2021

Joyce Goetz lives and works on her family farm near Dalmeny. She has fond memories of the WDM from her youth. Today, she creates new memories with her daughter Ashley and daughter-in-law Amanda, with annual visits to the Eaton’s Once Upon A Christmas display and Festival of Trees at the WDM Saskatoon.

In 2019, Joyce wrote to tell us about her tour through The Saskatchewan Story exhibit at the WDM Saskatoon. Here is some of what Joyce shared with us.

“I love history, learning what life must have been like in the past and I am thankful to those who came before us who often endured extreme hardship.

My daughter and I were almost finished going through Boomtown when we came to the end of the street and saw a part of the Museum we’d never seen before. Well, of course, we had to check it out. To our surprise and extreme enjoyment, we found a place close to our hearts. The wonderful surprise we found was an exhibit featuring the history of Saskatchewan [A Saskatchewan Story]. This exhibit was so touching, especially the video that was playing. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I’m pretty sure we watched it at least twice, probably more!

Another amazing thing we experienced was the [Magic] Kitchen scene. We looked through a window and listened to the narration, when right before our eyes the scene changed!!!

WHAT!!!?? What happened? How did it do that?? As we watched again, another person stood beside us saying she just had to come back to watch again because she just couldn’t figure it out!

Joyce and Amanda in the interactive combine in the A Saskatchewan Story exhibit. Amanda had just married Joyce’s son so they joked that Joyce was teaching her new daughter-in-law how to drive a combine, 2019

We kept watching until we figured out the secret. What a super way to catch a person’s full attention!

After we left the museum, we spent at least the next hour telling my son and husband about it all. We were so impressed! My daughter said we really needed to take her grandmother, my mother-in-law, to see this exhibit. I agreed, and we took her within the next month or so. She absolutely loved it and commented on so many things remembering her own childhood. Being a farm wife herself, she also appreciated the wonderful job done showing farm life.

We have enjoyed the Western Development Museum for years, attending weddings, birthday parties and walking Boomtown but now, there’s something about us!”

Chellan Hoffman has lived in Calgary for 30 years but still has a deep connection to the WDM Yorkton’s Threshermen’s Show and Seniors’ Festival.

The Hoffman family participates in the Threshermen’s Show & Seniors’ Festival, 1971

“The Yorkton Threshermen’s Show and Seniors’ Festival (TSSF) has been a part of my life for over 50 years now. The proof of my beginnings is in an old photo from 1971. I am 3 ½ years old, wearing a long pink dress and bonnet, and posing with my Mom and Dad, Doreen and Ernie Hoffman, in front of a Twin City tractor and an IH W-4. In those days, the WDM was located in an old hangar so the TSSF took place in the open spaces at the Yorkton Airport. It was during that time that Dad became the steward of WDM’s Fairbanks Morse gas tractor, and I was always thrilled to ride along in the parades.

When the WDM moved to its new building in 1972, here began my summer tradition of hanging out at the Flour Mill with the Threshermen Kids: my best friend Brenda Helm, her brother Brian, my cousins Colleen Guse and Harley Hoffman, and Troy and Charlie Pearce.

In my 20s, I moved to Alberta. I tried to attend the TSSF whenever I was back in Saskatchewan. I’d watch my parents in action – stooking, flailing grain, pitching hay in threshing demos or grinding grain for flour. I remember one summer, my mom volunteered me to play the famous calliope. I did play organ and piano, so it wasn’t an unreasonable request but I was not convinced this was my calling. I gathered the necessary music and took my position. I followed the lead of the calliope players before me and wore ear protection. I found out quickly that it was incredibly difficult to press the keys down against the steam pressure. Almost every time I pressed a key down, it would create a space beside the neighbouring key that was big enough to trap my finger! And there were a few pounds of pressure you had to push against so when a finger got pinned, it hurt! You had to keep your hands ‘poised.’ The next day, my mom wrapped my fingers with cotton balls and tape for protection.

When my dad passed away in 1999, the TSSF became even more special to me. I came back to hear the rhythm of the tractors, the smell of grain dust and connect with the spirit of my dad. It was then that I really appreciated the vision of the WDM to keep alive the history of farming on the prairies. I watched my dad’s brother, Clarence, and my cousin Harley operate their beloved George White steamer and imagined my dad still pitching the sheaves for them, enjoying the reward of working hard and entertaining the crowds.

In my early 40s, I brought my two young sons to the TSSF. My kids never met their Grandpa Ernie, so this was and is the best way I can connect them. They spent the day with their Granny Doreen – taking a horse-drawn wagon ride, jumping in big piles of straw and eating fresh bread from the clay oven.

In my mid-40s, my Mom moved to Calgary. Our trips back to Saskatchewan became less frequent, but we managed one or two visits to the TSSF. We’d make a beeline for the Flour Mill to see the Pearce family. For so many years, the ongoing theme between Greig Pearce and my mom was “silly” – silly hats and outfits, silly jokes, silly antics.

In my late 40s, I made a trip out to Yorkton with my husband to visit the TSSF and to try my hand at stooking. But the landscape was changing – I recognized fewer faces. My Uncle Clarence passed away in 2014, and his son Harley wasn’t operating the George White steamer. My Auntie Ivis was still helping at the Clay Oven and the Pearce family was still at the Flour Mill. But it was different.

Maureen Pearce, Greig Pearce, Chellan Hoffman & Troy Pearce at the Flour Mill, 2023

In 2020, my mom passed away. I was in my early 50s. My parents were hard-working farmers, and still they seemed to have endless energy and ideas to share at the Threshermen’s Club. I can honestly say that this place brought them pure joy. It was a place they could participate as a couple, and also work together with family, friends and their community to create something pretty special over the years.

I am now in my mid-50s. I was back at the TSSF in 2023, and brought my 22 year-old son with me. The crowds are smaller now, post-pandemic, but the volunteers were still making it happen – educating and entertaining the visitors. And yes, the Pearce family was still grinding flour, enjoying the energy and keeping it silly. Even though most of us kids drifted away from the Flour Mill after graduation, Troy and Charlie have been the long-time loyal ‘grinders’ with their parents Greig and Maureen for the last 50 years! No wonder it still feels like home.”







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