On Wednesday May 18th Mattawa Museum opens its doors to the past for what curator Judy Toupin hopes will be a full-length season unaffected by Covid closures. The museum will need the time, because already there is a lot going on.
Perhaps the biggest story is the upgrades to the building. New shingles were recently laid down and the roof “looks absolutely amazing,” a night and day difference from the old shingles. “They were in really bad shape,” and there were “hardly any shingles on the south side,” Toupin said.
There were no leaks, so all exhibits are safe and sound, but Toupin and the board are happy to have the job complete, as there’s no good time for a leaky roof. Cedar flashing was installed all around as well, she said, and now they continue to wait for the upstairs windows to arrive and be installed. If you see the boards on the second floor where windows should be, you now know why. The glass should be coming in late spring or early summer.
Some suggested Toupin hold off on the opening until everything was complete, but after three seasons of interrupted schedules, the temptation to ensure a full-length season was too strong to resist. Toupin outlined how in 2019 Mattawa had the big flood, in 2020 Covid-19 hit, and 2021 saw more regulations about when a public venue could open its doors. During those three years, it was impossible to hold a regular season at the museum.
As per tradition, the museum is opening on International Museum Day, and all are welcome to stop by. Marcel Labelle will be there, preparing his workstation as he sets to embark on a summer long project of building a birch bark canoe on site.
Labelle, a Metis Elder from Mattawa, is working on a 20-foot canoe he has named ‘The Gift,’ and visitors are welcome to visit him throughout the season. He’ll be working outside under the big tent. Local photographer Danny Turcotte will document the months-long process through his lens.
The museum has also been selling 50/50 tickets on its website, and the early bird draw will take place Wednesday, with the big prize to be drawn on July 1st. This year, all museum patrons will be entered into a draw to win some ice cream from Sid Turcotte Park.
On Friday, May 20, local author Karole Dumont Beckett will be on site for a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. It’s nice to have live events back, Toupin acknowledged. With the Covid closures the museum had little choice but to host events virtually—which was new for the museum—but the community really supported the endeavours, and the online mystery game even became a hit within the town.
“I really would like to thank the community,” Toupin said. “They have been extremely supportive over the last couple of years, and I am so thankful for that. We couldn’t be doing what we’re doing if we didn’t have the support of this community.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.