WESTLOCK – For the first time since the pandemic, the Canadian Tractor Museum held its annual general meeting (AGM) May 17.
A group of about 30 attended to hear some positive notes from the museum executive director Barb Kostiw and president Steven Miller along with the financial report, delivered by Randy Wold, who’s a Town of Westlock councillor and the municipality’s rep on the museum board of directors. He noted in his report the museum is in a “fairly-decent financial position.”
Miller spoke on some of the activities of the museum in the past year, including the donation of a pair of rare and unique Farmall M tractors from a woman in Ontario. Miller noted it was a different situation, as they don’t pay to acquire items, but in this instance, they paid $6,000 to have them transported from Ontario — the two are valued at almost $70,000. Miller said at the end of the day, the decision to bring the two was based on the uniqueness of them as the cane model is one of only a few ever built, and the other high-clearance unit is also very rare, with only a very few still in existence.
“We thought, what would Albert Miller do, given the offer, and our decision was based on that,” he said.
For the current year, and elected by acclamation, the board will consist of Miller, vice-president Brent Sterling, and four directors, including Henry Goller, Ernie Wood, Joe Rosich and Jim Smith. Garry Wood, who has served on the board for several years, has decided to step away, but will continue to help.
Kostiw, who’s an employee, noted they’ll have two summer students, Peyton Sonnenberg and Derek Romansky, while one unpaid person who spends many hours at the museum every week is Rod McFarlane whose vast knowledge of the tractors on display has him leading many on tours.
Recently, the museum underwent a major change in the organization and displays of the tractors as duplicates were removed, and others rearranged according to age to help visitors see the changes over the years.
In the past year, the museum was able to acquire an additional eight acres of land on the south side of the original property from the Westlock and District Agriculture Society for $1 and will allow for any future expansion plans.
Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME) has provided $10,000 per year in funding over the previous five years, and has now extended it for another three years, plus will donate $3,000 towards the annual Black Tie Bingo fundraiser event.
Coming soon is a cement pad in front of the stationary engine building to provide easier access. One of the larger stationary engines mounted on wheels (donated by the late Bill Seatter) was moved from that building and is now on display in the main building as the oldest piece in the tractor lineup.
Another permanent gift is the 80-horsepower Case Steam tractor, restored by the late Bernard Wiese with help from friends and has been donated from his wife Audrey and the family.
The board also recently completed a strategic plan to lay out the process for the museum going forward, not just a place to store old tractors, but a place for visitors to come and learn about the history of agriculture in our area and the province.
Also underway is a rebuild of the museum’s website which Miller described as “antiquated” and said the new one will be much improved and easier to access. Meanwhile, the museum’s social media page now has over 1,000 followers, and this July, Agro-Tours from Richmond, Va. will be paying a visit to the museum.
“This place is awesome because of you, and you know who you are,” Miller said to the volunteers in his closing remarks.
Also, rather than being open only during the summer months and minimum days each week, the museum is now open year-round.
Kostiw noted that last year they had 1,296 adult visitors, 389 youth and 189 under the age of five visit, along with eight birthday parties and six board room rentals — the goal is to simply bring about more awareness of the Museum to the community and beyond.
The official opening of the Museum for this summer took place Monday, May 22, at noon, following the opening of the Pioneer Museum earlier in the day. This year, a special attraction will be the official measurement of the height of the museum’s weathervane.