Pembina Threshermen’s Museum has been celebrating their 50th anniversary all summer long, but August 13 marked the official 50th year of the museum’s existence.
PTM was founded by farmers William Elias, John Fehr, George Goertzen, John Letkeman and Abram Hiebert. In 1966 Elias bought an old threshing machine at an auction sale, intending to keep it mostly as a show piece. Eventually he started to wonder about having a threshing day to demonstrate how it worked.
The five men got together and created an annual ‘Threshing Bee’ and due to its popularity, the men started talking about creating a museum.
On August 13, 1968 they incorporated.
“Their aim from the start was not just the threshing,” president Howard Thiessen said. “They were intent on showing people how we used to live, how people used to make a living and stay alive. We have all these artifacts to remind us how people lived and existed.”
Thiessen said it can be hard work keeping the museum up and running, but seeing how people react makes it worthwhile. “When you hear and see reactions, whatever I thought was long, whatever I thought was boring, whatever I thought was too much work, it’s all worth it when you see the reactions of people,” he said.
One of the major additions to PTM this year was Brimberly Village. Manager Kimberly Striemer said the effort to clean the building started with a summer student (Brianna) two years ago, who started the cleanup effort.
“I had no idea it was even going to take me past that season,” she said. “But it just kept growing and evolving and progressing. What’s significant about it is the fact that I had no idea it was going to take that long, but that was the original building of the museum. That was what they worked out of.”
“To have that open exactly 50 years later, transformed into Brimberly Village in the very building that was the start of this museum, it’s very special,” she added. “It’s so significant. I didn’t plan that, that’s how it happened.”
Thiessen and Striemer also stressed the importance of volunteers, past and present.
PTM put up an honour wall in the dining hall, listing the founders, former Valley Harvest Maids, presidents, managers and summer students. They also buried a time capsule, which will be opened in 2043.