It is time for Fanshawe Pioneer Village to change gears. As an organization, we have been hurtling down the road in fifth gear at well above the speed limit for the past decade. We have made foundational changes; stabilized operational funding, renewed capital infrastructure and developed an excellent education, public and museum program. As a result, we have transformed Fanshawe Pioneer Village into a respected community museum and cultural anchor for this region. So...what's next?
When I was interviewed for this position I was sent on a practicum. I was directed up on site to walk around and scout out maintenance issues and come up with a list of priorities. When completed, I returned to the office and at the top of that ‘to do’ list was the west wall of the Colbert Barn. This part of the massive log structure was rotted in at least 6 logs, bowed out like a beer belly and had holes large enough that raccoons were passing through the walls like ghosts. It was an absolute wreck, and that was at least eight years ago. This season we have finally repaired it and this column is the story of that contract.
As it turned out, log repairs are not an easy thing to contract. There are precious few contractors in the business and most that are concern themselves with new log-home construction almost exclusively. These facts made for an often fruitless telephone and e-mail campaign as I beat the bushes trying to scare someone up that might look at the thing. After a little homework I had things narrowed down to four contenders, three within Southwestern Ontario and another in the Ottawa area. The local three all made a great racket about how they would love to do the work and then promptly stopped returning my phone calls...
Eight months ago, staff and volunteers moved the operation of Fanshawe Pioneer Village into the new Spriet Family Visitor Centre. Our first season with this new building is rapidly coming to a close and what a difference it has made!