Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Riel House to hold last supper before cuts
Harvest celebration will precede end of interpretive tours at historic house
As staff at Riel House prepare for an annual celebration, the future role of one of Winnipeg’s most landmark historic sites remains in the balance.
Earlier this year, Parks Canada announced it will not renew its contract next month with the St. Boniface Historical Society to continue funding interpretive tours of the site, which will be replaced by self-guided tours.
Tom Kynman, superintendent of operations for Parks Canada’s Southern Manitoba region, confirmed there will be a meeting to determine the future of the house where Métis leader Louis Riel lay in state after he was hanged.
"Come this fall, we will meet with a variety of stakeholders and try to figure out where to go from here," Kynman said. "We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to find a solution to keep the place open and accessible to the community."
In the meantime, the Métis Harvest Celebration will take place at Riel House (330 River Rd.) on Sun., Aug. 26 from 1 to 5 p.m. Regular fees will apply, organizers say.
Designed to mark the end of summer, the event will feature guided tours of the house, historic craft demonstrations, an hour-long musical jam (bring your instruments) and children’s games. The menu will include bannock, corn-on-the-cob, iced tea and coffee (bring your own mug).
Riel House director Monique Olivier said the location is an important historical site for the province’s Métis and francophone communities.
"Lots of people see Louis Riel as the father of Manitoba and the defender of Métis and francophone rights. This house is considered to be a nexus for these communities," said Olivier, who lives in West Broadway.
Crestview resident Anne Richen, who recently went on an interpretive tour, said it was a "very favourable experience."
"The interpretive experience was especially critical to my enjoyment. It was a good way to consolidate a lot of information in a short time. I prefer to hear my history in the way the interpreter presented it," she said. "I can’t understand what the government has to gain."
Another visitor, Donna Little, thinks the loss of the tours will detract from the educational experience.
"I certainly think it will be a loss. My granddaughter came for a visit with her school daycare and she was telling me stories about it," said Little, who lives in St. James. "There are some very interesting artifacts in there. It will be a loss."
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said it’s important the site remains accessible to the general public.
"I do think they should continue to have some staffing there," he said. "My main concern is that it doesn’t close. It will be very difficult if there is no staff and there is also the risk of theft. It plays a valuable role for educational and school tours."
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(1 of 11 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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