Lamp collection in Donalda turns 30!

This weekend celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Donalda and District Museum, more commonly known as the “Lamp Museum”. To commemorate this milestone, on Saturday, Aug, 21, 2010; the museum will be serving coffee and cake, and giving out door prizes.

Donalda and District Museum has now been home to the world’s largest museum-housed collection of pre-electric lamps for thirty years. The museum had its beginnings in 1979, when the Village of Donalda agreed to erect a building to house Beth and Don Lawson’s donation of the several hundred lamps in their private collection. Ground was broken in November of that year, and the building was completed the following summer. By mid-August 1980, the Lawson collection had been moved in, and the Donalda and District Museum was open for visitors.

Today, in 2010, the outside of the building looks pretty much the same, but inside is a different story. Through further donations and purchases, the lamp collection has nearly doubled to around 950 items. The museum’s collection now holds around 5000 pieces, including:

• fossil bones and wood found in the area

• arrow heads and stone tools made by native Canadians

• beautifully beaded items made by Peggy Whitford, a local Métis woman

• clothes, household items and farm tools used by the area’s European pioneers, and

• tools used in commercial butter-making

The museum now comprises of five buildings:

• On April 30, 1987, the Donalda Co-operative Creamery ceased operations. The creamery and its contents, including all its records, and all the butter-making equipment, became part of the Donalda and District Museum.

• In 1996, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also ceased operation in Donalda. The bank building, originally built by the Bank of Montreal in about 1928, joined the Museum’s collection. Today, the building is occupied by The Donalda Community Art Society, who operate a public art gallery there.

• The railway came to Donalda in 1911, stopping at a fine new Class 2 station. When the train stopped coming, the station was abandoned, then demolished when it became a safety hazard. When the steam train began coming again, from Stettler, a Class 4 station was located and purchased at Vandura, Saskatchewan, where it had been used as a grain bin. The station was moved to Donalda and restored to something like its former glory. Today, it stands proudly by the track, in the original location, in hopes of one day seeing the train stop again.

• The newest structure in the museum’s collection is the World’s Largest Lamp. Built as a Millenium project to complement the museum’s main collection, the lamp was first lit on July 1, 2000. Built of steel and fibreglass, and standing over 12 metres (42 feet) tall, the lamp, powered by a 400-watt streetlight, has lit at dusk every night since.

The Donalda and District Museum is a community project, and has been from the beginning. and it could not survive without the tens of thousands of hours of work volunteers have put in over the years.