Staff at the historic Cronquist House, located at Bower Ponds, are spreading the word about a slate of activities set to run at the house throughout 2017.
Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society Manager Delores Coghill said there are lots of special events planned for the coming months, and part of the goal is to bolster awareness not only of the Cronquist House but of how it can be utilized all year long.
Coming up on Family Day, folks are invited to drop by for chili and a bun, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and house tours (by donation) from noon to 4:30 p.m.
St. David’s Day Tea runs March 1st from 2 to 4 p.m. at a cost of $12 per person – reservations can be made by calling 403-346-0055.
A St. Patrick’s Day Tea runs March 17th from 2 to 4 p.m. ($12 per person) and a spring tea runs April 21st from 2 to 4 p.m. Reservations are required for this as well.
A Mother’s Day Tea is coming up on May 13th. There will be two sittings at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. and reservations are required for that special event – call 403-346-0055. These events help to raise funds for the House, but they are also a great way to further engage with the community, she said.
Also, Coghill added that Paint Nights at the Cronquist House are now a monthly highlight as well, running Feb. 23rd, March 23rd, April 27th and May 25th from 7 to 10 p.m. each night. Each evening features a different theme, from ‘Feel the Bliss Lettering’ to ‘Whimsical Mixed Media Canvas’ to ‘Miniature Watercolour Paintings’ and ‘Zentangled Landscape Card’.
The paint nights will be held under the direction of local artist Sally Towers-Sybblis.
Coghill said big plans are also taking shape for this year’s Canada Day celebrations, seeing as it’s the nation’s 150th anniversary of confederation this year, too. To that end, staff and volunteers are looking for increased partnerships and sponsors within the community as well to help bring a broader scope of activities to fruition.
She added that’s it’s always something of a surprise when some folks point out they didn’t even know the Cronquist House existed, and some of these people have called Red Deer home for years. That’s something that Coghill is working to change, pointing out that the House is also available for a number of other functions from corporate meetings to weddings to private family events. Catering is also available.
And starting in May through to the fall, the House is open for tea, snacks and tours, too. There are also special Victorian dinners and other holiday events in the winter as Christmas approaches as well. “The Victorian Christmas dinners always sell out – I actually could have sold out another one,” she explained.
The Red Deer International Folk Festival Society was formed in 1969. In 1996, the organization changed its name to the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society. Today, business operations are conducted from the Cronquist House.
Meanwhile, the Cronquist House has a storied history all its own. It was originally located across the river in West Park and ultimately and painstakingly moved to its current location back in 1976.
Looking back to its beginnings, it was back in 1912 that Emmanuel Pettersen Cronquist, originally from Sweden, finished work on the house. In 1886, he married Hilda Carlsdater in Varmland, Sweden. In 1892, he traveled to western Canada to look for new opportunities. He returned the following year, settling in the Burnt Lake area.
In 1894, Hilda sailed to join him, (tragically, they lost two sons on that journey to Canada).
In the fall of 1901, the Cronquists bought land in what is now the West Park subdivision. Emmanuel proved to be a successful businessman with extensive farming and livestock operations, so eventually it was decided that a prominent new home was in order.
When Elias, the last surviving member of the family, passed away in June 1974, the house stood vacant for some time.
The house was eventually acquired by the Red Deer International Folk Festival Society (now the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society). And according to the Society, the home is described as a Victorian-style farmhouse.
Today, the house looks like it has simply been in the spot since it was first built – in fact, it’s tough to imagine a more ideal setting for the home.
Original items in the house include Elias’s chair and an enormous cabinet that stands on the main level. There are also portraits of Emmanuel and Hilda in the large living room area on the main floor as well.
Meanwhile, for Coghill, managing the Society is the ideal line of work. “I like the job because number one, the great location, I have the best view in the City from my office. Number two, I like that every day is different – some days I do a lot of accounting, others I am busy with bookings and phone calls.
“I have also met some great people that if I were not here would not have met. This includes the Society’s members and others I have met through my association with the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society.”
For more information about the Cronquist House, check out www.rdchs.com or call 403-346-0055.