Tracey Sanderson, Stuart Tiedemann and Kayla Desjardins are members of the board of the Bonnechere Museum and were thrilled to accept the FedDev Ontario $100,000 fund for new initiatives there. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Eganville – The smile on Tracey Sanderson’s face said it all as the Bonnechere Valley councillor and Bonnechere Museum Board member announced the $100,000 fund the museum received for tourism initiatives. 

“When I found out it was like a kid opening a Christmas gift,” she said with a smile. The Tourism Relief Fund through FedDev Ontario, supports tourism businesses and organizations to facilitate future growth through new or existing tourism experiences and helping the sector reposition itself following the pandemic shutdowns. In Eastern Ontario, $17 million was distributed among 160 projects and the application by the museum, under its entity name the Bonnechere Arts and Historical Society, was successful. 

Coun Sanderson noted she was invited to join the museum board last October and the initiative started shortly after to apply for the fund.

 “At the beginning of November, Jack Rosien forwarded me an e-mail from Preston O’Grady that contained the details of the fund and how to apply,” she said. “This fund was announced at the end of 2022, and applications were to be submitted mid-February and funds to be spent by the end of March 2023.”

It is also interesting to note the connection with Mr. O’Grady, who was instrumental in beginning the museum many years ago and worked tirelessly securing grants himself throughout the years. He died in late November, 2022.

The turnaround time was quick for the application and Coun. Sanderson said Kayla Desjardins was a huge help in gathering information for the application.

“She was also my partner in crime executing the March Break Madness event,” she said. “My love of museums stems from my childhood with my family’s involvement with the Wilno Heritage Society as well as visiting any museum we could with our parents as children, a past time that my husband and I carried on with our own children,” Ms. Desjardins said.

In fact, her interested peaked, she joined the museum board and is now the new president. “There is so much untapped potential for the Bonnechere Museum. I am confident that we have just the right group of like-minded individuals on board to really tap into it,” she said.

“Keep an eye out for new and upcoming events.” Stuart Tiedemann, a long-time board member, was the co-signer for the fund application. Without the two signatures, the application would not have been possible. He said he began his involvement in the board through his wife and when she passed away, he came on the board. A lover of antiques and history, he has contributed many items to the museum and is excited about the new fund.

“History is a passion of mine,” he said. “I buy things and they don’t make it home. They come here.”

The March Break event was the first visible event facilitated through this fund and was held before it was possible to announce funding from FedDev Ontario. Both Coun. Sanderson and Ms. Desjardins note it is just the beginning of what is being planned.

The objectives of the fund are to support museum modernization and having a strong digital presence is also part of this, Coun. Sanderson said. 

“We are updating technology and have a new website,” she said. 

For the local application, the plan was three-fold. The first part was museum modernization: digital archives, new website, brand identity, e-commerce application. The second part was the winter festival which involved creating a project plan that includes upwards of 30 events. The outcome of that was the highly successful March Break Madness held over a week this March. The third component is the artisan project. 

“We approached new local artist Laurel Cook who had expertise in using outdoor paint to create outdoor paintings,” she explained. “We hired her and other local artisans to paint historical locations within Bonnechere Valley Township.  In total we have 16 paintings and three murals, which will be installed at a later date.”

The delay in the installation is there is a need to fundraise for the sign posts and secure confirmation from business owners, she explained. The fund does not cover the sign posts. However, with a fundraiser planned for Canada Day and other activities, she is confident the posts will soon be fully funded and the paitntings installed. 

As well, it is exciting to see a new artisan group formed in the community. 

“It is good to see growth,” she said. “We are having a studio tour in August. There has never been a Bonnechere Valley studio tour before but because of this new fund we have the possibility to see new events happening.”

There will also be e-commerce integration with the artisans, allowing them to sell work through the museum site. For Coun. Sanderson it combines supporting the local artisan community and growing the museum, both goals of the grant. 

“We have a plan for growth,” she said with a grin.

While similar to a grant, this is a $100,000 fund for the museum and securing it has been very special, she added.

By Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 16, 2023 at 10:55

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eganville Leader   Eganville, Ontario
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