Longtime museum president steps down
Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:33 am
He was there when the museum was just an idea.
And today, after 27 years as president of the Nose Creek Valley Museum board of directors, he is retiring.
Walter Bushfield, 88, lives west of Balzac, on a rural property that was annexed into the city of Calgary just over a year ago.
It was the early 1980s, when he was part of the United Farmer’s Association, that the idea sparked.
“I was at a union meeting and members figured that we should have one built,” he said.
It took two years for a group of passionate volunteers to find a location. They looked at a piece of land on the west side of First Avenue and Eighth Street, and at another location near the highway where the RCMP office was planned.
“I knew a guy doing engineering in the area and he called me one day and said ‘I think I have the ideal spot.’”
The City, donated the land, located off of Main Street next to the Nose Creek Park, to the museum. Next, they had to get fundraising.
“The City suggested we do a survey to see if people wanted one. I was against that idea. I said let’s go get donation and if we don’t get enough money we will return it all.”
In two weeks, volunteers went door to door in Airdrie and the rural surroundings. Bushfield said they had enough money collected in two weeks to know that they could move forward and make the building a reality.
In the fall of 1987 construction started, Bushfield remembered. In March, 1988, the doors opened and June 6 was their grand opening.
Since then, Bushfield has served as the president of the board of directors, made up of 11 volunteers who plan events, fundraise and come up with new ideas for the museum.
The museum has collected most of its display items from donations from members of the community.
Some of the exhibits include a wildlife section showcasing taxidermy animals that are found naturally in the area, a school section, military, an aboriginal display, blacksmithing area and an annexed extension built in 1993 to house farming equipment.
“We cover the area it’s named after,” said Dan McKinnon, a board member who is taking over as president, referring to Nose Creek.
He said the creek ends up in Calgary but also goes through Airdrie towards Madden, stretches west and includes other communities such as Crossfield and Madden.
During a tour of the building, they stop to tell stories of the history behind certain exhibits. Bushfield points out some of items he has donated such as an old egg incubator and a few model buildings he created by hand.
McKinnon, who guides tours for elementary school students, stops to explain the different types of grains that grow in the area and how oil comes from canola seeds.
The two are well entrenched and passionate about their local history.
“I would really like to see more public involvement,” said McKinnon on taking on the new role as president.
“I’ve talked to people who have been here (in Airdrie) 10 to 15 years and they’ve never been here (to the museum). I realize sometimes people go once and unless there’s something new, they don’t go again, but history is extremely important, as far as I’m concerned.”
He said he grew up with a large extended family and the stories and the history that was passed down and shared between family members was cherished and enjoyed.
Bushfield agrees. He said there is a lot of rich history in the area and always something new to learn about the past.
He said he’s stepping down because it felt like it was time do so but said he will remain on the board of directors, “as long as they’ll let me.”
“Oh we’ll always want him,” said McKinnon.
The museum runs Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. and 1 to 4:30 on weekends.
During the winter the museum is open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays and 1 to 4:30 on the weeekends.