Tom Lakusta, right, chair of the Hay River Museum Society, stands outside the Hay River Heritage Centre along with Chad Kruger, assistant manager of the museum. The centre is not yet open because of Covid-19 restrictions, but the hope is that guided tours will be offered sometime in July.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

It had been hoped that the Hay River Heritage Centre would be open by July 1, but that won’t be happening.

Now, the aim is to open the museum sometime in July, most likely beginning with guided tours.

Tom Lakusta, chair of the Hay River Museum Society, said planning is now underway to ensure that the heritage centre can meet the requirements for reopening under phase two of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely document to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

“So we’re working on that right now,” Lakusta said, adding the museum society should have something ready this week to submit to Protect NWT.

“And then we’ll get the approval, hopefully, under certain conditions to be able to open,” he said. “The kind of opening we are thinking of is initially we would just open by appointment. And so that is, if somebody wanted to have a tour of the museum or a group wanted to have a tour, we’d have some rules in place and then we’d tour them through the museum and the grounds.”

The advantages of guided tours by appointment would include controlling the number of people and ensuring social distancing.

It would also provide a new way of experiencing the museum, said Lakusta.

In normal years, the museum opens before the Victoria Day long weekend in May.

Lakusta said the museum society is also thinking of making arrangements for some tours off site.

“So things like perhaps a tour of the cemetery, if we can get the town to approve a tour of the cemetery, something like that,” he said. “We’ve been also talking to others about a tour of the fossil beds out by Alexandra Falls or a natural history tour of the Hay River area. So we’re looking at different kinds of things. None of them are firm right now.”
Lakusta said such off-site tours will be another way that the heritage centre can serve the community.

As for a more traditional opening of the museum, that may happen later in the summer.

“Certainly, we want to do something for our 20th anniversary, which is going to be Aug. 26,” said Lakusta.

The heritage centre is housed in an old Hudson’s Bay store built in the 1940s.

Lakusta noted the submission to Protect NWT will include proposals for both guided tours and a more extensive reopening later in the summer.

Among other things, the submission will deal with things like social distancing, entrances and ventilation.

“It will cover off all these elements,” said Lakusta. “And we’ll just follow whatever rules we’re told to follow.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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