A project that has been in the making for the last eight months or so is finally coming together at the Estevan Legion. The Southeast Military Museum is set to have their Grand Opening on Remembrance Day, November 11, with a small glimpse of the museum being available on November 2 during a presentation the Legion will be hosting.
"It's been a long time in the works," said Sergeant Craig Bird, who has been the man responsible for putting together a large part of these items, including many from his own collection. "It's not one of those things where you can just plop things down and say 'hey, we're a museum and we're open to the public.' We've gone through all the steps to become a legitimate museum."
Bird himself has been collecting a number of military artifacts over the last 30 years and set the wheels in motion for the museum to get started. Not only do they have their proper museum status, they've also gone through Revenue Canada and can provide tax receipts for any kind of donation provided. While money is accepted, donations of family items are very welcome and encouraged.
"We're always looking for items so if people have family items sitting in a box that they don't know what to do with, by all means explore the opportunities and options we have to display it and showcase your family's history. We have items basically from the Boer War all the way up to present day military items so a lot of it is going to be relating to the southeast corner but there is just military stuff in there as well."
Displays have been built inside the smaller hall at the Legion that performers and others used as a prep area in the United Way Telethon and the main hall itself, along with some placed at Bird's residence. The main focus of the musuem will be Canadian and southeast Saskatchewan involvement in conflicts around the world, but those items will be joined by artifacts from other militaries that have been collected over the years such as German WWI and WWII artifacts as well as some Japanese items.
"It's been a passion of mine for a long time being in the military, and having a collectors' network has certainly helped. I've got a few collectors in the southeast that have been giving me a hand and helping me out and over those years you build relationships with people and I get phone calls out of the blue saying 'Hey, look what I found' and not just from Canada but overseas in Europe and Australia and Africa. Modern technology is wonderful because I can get an email or a Facebook message from somebody I know from anywhere in the world and they send me pictures, and the next thing you know I got things coming to me from the mail."
The Grand Opening is to follow the Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Estevan Collegiate High School, but a sneak peak will be availbale on November 2 when the Legion hosts a presentation for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Sheldt. More on that will be available next week.
After the Grand Opening, the museum will be open during regular hours at the Legion (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) during the week. If you want tours or to view some of the stuff at Bird's property, you will need to call ahead.