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Charleswood Museum joins Doors Open Winnipeg

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The Charleswood Historical Museum is one of 12 new locations that will be throwing open their doors during Heritage Winnipeg’s 10th annual Doors Open Winnipeg (DOW).

"It will hopefully give them good exposure so people will support it — not just in Charleswood but throughout Winnipeg," said Heritage Winnipeg executive director Cindy Tugwell.

The museum joins Caron House on the DOW roster of 75 buildings open for free tours this year. DOW runs May 25 and 26 this year.

Both Caron House and the museum are operated by the Charleswood Historical Society (CHS). Caron House, located at 50 Cass Street and billed on the DOW website as "one of the last remaining farmhouses on the Assiniboine River inside city limits," became part of the event two years ago.

"I know the Van Roons have been very dedicated with Caron House, and now subsequently with the museum," Tugwell said.

CHS president Len Van Roon Jr. said he and his father, Len Sr., are thrilled the museum has been included in DOW.

"It’s kind of a hidden gem that most of the community doesn’t know about," said Van Roon, adding there will be ice cream, "while supplies last," during the event.

Len Sr., 91, said he will be on hand as an interpreter at the museum, which will be open for DOW only on May 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. at its location at the Charleswood Senior Centre, 5006 Roblin Blvd.

Len Sr. and his late wife, Verna, collected many of the hundreds of museum’s artifacts and are identified as "The Keepers" of the museum on a plaque.

He said the museum has an interactive element in the form of about 80 recordings he made over the last 30 years, featuring elderly Charleswood residents sharing personal and community histories.

"I find there are some real gems in there, and it’s first-person stuff. When you hear people’s voices, and even the inflection and how they present themselves, it’s pretty darn interesting," he said.

Len Sr. agreed with his son that not many people know about the museum, but more have started showing up with armfuls of books from the library since he made a sign, which has been placed outside the door.

"They’re quite delighted with the museum because it’s all local stuff."

Doors Open events originated in France in the mid-1980s and filtered out to other continents before arriving in Canada in 2000, when Toronto held the first event.

A full listing of locations, including the Historical Museum of St. James — which recently won a best tour award based on votes by DOW goers, is available online at doorsopenwinnipeg.ca

A Winnipeg Free Press insert in the Friday, May 24 edition will also provide all location and times for the weekend event.

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