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Sunnybrook Museum celebrates 30th anniversary at Pioneer Days

Reynolds Alberta Museum will bring in their traction engines

Pioneer Days Festival is coming up at Sunnybrook Farm Museum with lots of fun planned for the whole family. It also just so happens that the Museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary since Norman and Iva Bower donated the land to the people of Red Deer.

“It’s big news for us, 30 years in the heart of Red Deer doing programming and activities, so this is our big fundraising event. We have typically about 3,000 people come out through the gates on Saturday and Sunday, the 18th and 19th,” said Ian Warwick, executive director at the Museum.

It all began back in the mid 80s when the Agricultural Committee of the Red Deer and District Museum Society were looking at creating an agricultural museum.

“It’s been such a part of our history, it’s been so important to the settlers and our long term history of the region,” said Warwick.

When Norman Bower heard about this, he offered up his farm.

“He donated 10 acres, the eastern portion of his property, to the City to be part of the park system and then south of him he sold 10 acres to Horizon Village Corporation and created the seniors complex and then the last 10 acres was something he could donate, and it was all under the condition that an agricultural museum be established here.”

A committee of volunteers was then set up between 1988 and 1996, who were in charge of running the Museum, setting it up and collecting artifacts.

“It’s really a volunteer effort. There’s 85 volunteers that give almost 10,000 hours a year to keep this place running.”

On Aug. 18th and 19th, Warwick said it serves as their fundraising weekend too, where all of the funds go to support their children’s programs.

“It’s a magical place. It really is.”

Activities on the weekend run the gamut from an antique tractor pull competition to a pancake breakfast, tractor parade, Minneapolis-Moline feature exhibition and more.

Warwick said it’s also really inexpensive for families to attend at just $5 per person and $15 per family.

This year, to help celebrate the Museum’s 30th anniversary, Reynolds Alberta Museum will be bringing in their 1914 Rumely steam traction engine and their 1908 International Harvester gasoline traction engine.

“These were the big traction engines that powered threshing machines and did the work on the farm in the early days,” said Warwick.

“The little Rumely steam engine came into Alberta new in 1914 and was used to farm in the Rimbey area and was used in 1955 for the 50th anniversary of the province for parade and demonstration. Mr. Reynolds acquired it then and we restored it back in the 1990s,” said Randy Kvill, curator of agriculture and industry collections at the Reynolds Alberta Museum.

He added they now use it for their harvest events and taking people on it for rides.

As for the other one, Kvill said, “The 1908 friction drive is the earliest form of gas tractor that we have. This is the same type of tractor that the Bowers had on their farm.”

The event at Sunnybrook Farm Museum runs Aug. 18th and 19th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is available at the Academy of Learning Parking lot, immediately west of Sunnybrook Farm.

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