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Roland 4-H museum puts out call for help

The pandemic shut down fundraising and kept many guests away from the museum

The 4-H museum in Roland says $5,000 is all it needs to get back into the black after the pandemic cancelled most of its fundraising in 2020 and kept many guests away.

The sum represents about half of the museum’s budget.

The museum launched a pledge campaign via posters and social media to try to pull together the cash. As of February 10, it had raised about $2,000, said museum secretary Leslie Whitehead.

The museum occupies a nearly 120-year-old former bank in Roland, Manitoba. Roland became the birthplace of 4-H Canada in 1913 when it was the site of the first organizational meeting for a boys and girls club, according to 4-H Manitoba’s website.

The museum houses artifacts like a medal for a flower competition in 1911 donated by an original member of the club formed in Roland. Uniforms, banners, records, scrapbooks and other articles illustrate the history of the now Canada-wide organization.

Each year the museum is open during July and August.

“We were able to open this summer but with the restrictions on gatherings we could not host any larger groups of people, just family groups or individuals,” said Whitehead.

“We did receive some donations and souvenir sales from those visitors,” she said.

In the past four years, the museum made an average of almost $1,900 in visitor donations, and about $60 in souvenir sales.

This year, it made just over $350 in visitor donations and $55 in souvenir sales.

The museum is open during Roland’s annual Pumpkin Fair, which Whitehead said usually brings 75 to 100 visitors into the museum. COVID-19 cancelled the fair.

They were also forced to cancel a fundraising meal that usually brought in over $1,000.

The RM of Roland supports the museum with a grant toward its property tax bill, said Whitehead. The Manitoba 4-H council donates 50 cents per member to the museum each year, which in 2020 totalled just over $950.

They apply for a provincial grant each year and usually receive $3,150, said Whitehead.

She said 4-H Canada doesn’t financially support the museum. Museum representatives met with 4-H Canada a few years ago but it felt “there were some liability issues that made it not feasible for it to support us financially,” said Whitehead.

A spokesperson for 4-H Canada said the organization has supported the museum with a fundraiser in 2013 and “does donate to the museum when possible.”

“Additionally, our national board of directors and/or members have also made significant individual contributions to the museum,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“The Roland Historical Society is recognized in a league of its own for taking initiative to collect, curate and dedicate an entire museum to the historic preservation of 4-H in Canada,” he said.

The Manitoba 4-H council is aware of the museum’s financial woes and had forwarded the appeal for funding to the Manitoba 4-H Board and the 4-H Canada office, said executive director Dawn Krinke. “As the home of 4-H in Canada, Roland, and the museum, hold significance for all 4-H’ers and is a tangible reminder of 4-H’s long history,” Krinke said.

This isn’t the first time the museum has struggled financially. In October 2015, the Co-operator reported the museum was struggling to find a place to relocate. The building — which is still its home — was proving too expensive to heat. Humidity was also causing damage to artifacts.

At the time, the museum board was fundraising to cover a $3,000 hydro bill.

Whitehead said after exploring many options, the museum board decided to repair the moisture damage and open the second floor to make more room for displays.

Anyone wishing to donate can make cheques payable to the Historical Society of the RM Of Roland and mail to Box 238, Roland, Manitoba, R0G 1T0. Tax receipts are available.

About the author

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Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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