East Coulee

East Coulee School Museum: a Fun Drumheller Attraction

Blogging for a Cause Postcard

Blogging for a Cause

I had the opportunity to volunteer for the East Coulee School Museum’s Highland Gala, which happened on Robbie Burns Day (January 25th). It was a lot of fun, and I got to meet a bunch of people I would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Attending an event like this looked like a lot of fun, but volunteering was just as fun and rewarding. I hope I convince you to attend next year’s gala, or even attend a different event held by the Museum; perhaps the Spring Fling? It’s a fun Drumheller attraction.

A fun drumheller attraction
Don’t worry if you missed it you can go next year! (Image courtesy of the Museum)

A fun drumheller attraction

About This Blog Post

This week’s blog is about the East Coulee School Museum, just in case it wasn’t clear from the title. 😉 I hate to sound preachy, but I’m hoping you will help me support the museum, which I think is a good cause. I will try not to beat you over the head, so I won’t put my hand out and ask you to donate directly, but I will say that places like these need your support, so I ask you to just visit the museum. Just by visiting helps out, but also think about attending one of the events. Not only will you be supporting a nonprofit good cause, you will also have fun doing it.

A fun drumheller attraction
This boiler broke down in 2012 costing the museum $56,000 which is why they need support. It was coal fired, yes they literally shoveled coal into here until 2012! Over the past few years building expenses have totaled $286,000, help me help the museum.

You can also support the museum just by watching my YouTube video. I have not monetized my channel, but when I do I will donate half of the net profits from the video to the museum! So please help me help them. Watch, like, subscribe, please help me share so it can reach more people. I don’t have a budget for advertising on Google, so I need your help to get the word out. It doesn’t cost you a thing to share my YouTube video link. (the video is at the end of this page)

A fun drumheller attraction

Why Should You Care?

I don’t think Canadians embrace their heritage as much as they should. We tend to tear things down, and then regret it when they are gone, especially in the western half of the country. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advancing and modernizing society, but sweeping the past under the rug is not progress.

A fun drumheller attraction
The picture from my title postcard. It’s altered to be sepia toned.

I think we should celebrate the hard work and struggles our ancestors faced, so that we can appreciate what we have, instead of giving ourselves anxiety over whether or not we have the next generation mobile phone. Instead, we can marvel at the wonder that our mobile phones are when we compare them to the huge wall mounted monstrosities that they used to be. I know it’s hard to get your kids to care, but, if it was 1930 right now, they could be working in a coal mine at 12 years old. There is an incredible history inside the museum which could very easily be lost if we don’t care. The volunteers there are passionate, knowledgeable, and have a lot of good stories.

A fun drumheller attraction
Visit the museums website for more details

A fun drumheller attraction

Community Involvement

One of the problems some destinations face is backlash from the community, for instance Iceland is being overwhelmed by tourists (who don’t respect the culture or land). This causes some Icelanders to resent tourists, which in turn leads some people to worry thatif they visit, they will be shunned. When you actively show support to a community however, they are more likely to welcome you with open arms. The museum is supported and beloved by the community of East Coulee and Drumheller. Even if you are a big city nerd like me, or even from out of the country, you are likely to be received and treated warmly by the locals if you attend an event like the Highland Gala.

Why Not Let the Government Step In?

There are many projects and sites that the communities care about that are being systematically defunded as I speak. Alberta Parks budget is being slashed right now, for instance, so many campgrounds and parks are being closed or privatized, even in popular parks the public actually uses. Places like the Museum will be gone for good if people don’t frequent them enough. Don’t give the government the power to arbitrarily close sites that have historical or cultural significance to local communities, Alberta, and Canada as a whole.

A fun drumheller attraction
There’s still time to get your tickets

A fun drumheller attraction

What Do I Get Out of the Gala?

A lot of fun, that’s what! You get to have an amazing dinner, consisting of a really tasty buffet provided by several volunteers and overseen by a local chef. No Robbie Burns night would be complete without the star of the show: the haggis! I know haggis might sound gross, but it’s worth a try (the wife and I have really enjoyed it when we have had it), at least just to say you tried it. After all, you don’t have to make it your whole dinner. You can try it, and if you don’t like it, just eat the rest of the tasty dinner. The haggis may be the star of the show, but I think you could say neeps & tatties would be the co-star.

A fun drumheller attraction
Some of the delicious food
Haggis:

Traditional haggis consists of sheep organs, suet, onions, oatmeal, and herbs & spices all stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach. Hahaha. I know it’s not exactly everyone’s idea of gourmet, but it’s really better than it sounds. The haggis was graciously provided by Freson Bros grocery store

Neeps & Tatties:

Essentially turnips and potatoes, mashed in lots of butter. While I’m not a fan of turnips on their own, I can say they are pretty darn good this way!

A fun drumheller attraction
The Haggis in the oven
Refreshments & of Course: Scotch

You get a nice variety of reasonably priced beers & wines provided by local businesses like Valley Brewing & Eau Claire Distillery. No they aren’t affiliates of mine, but I can’t help but mention them because they were helping to support the museum, and their offerings were really tasty!. Anyone who helps support a good cause deserves to be mentioned. You could buy singles for $5 and a flight for $9, I believe it was. I might be wrong on the prices; I really need to do a better job of writing things down! To be fair to myself, I was preoccupied with doing the job I was given (security). Yes I want blog material, but I’m not going to take advantage of a nonprofit.

A fun drumheller attraction
Scotch tasting that you wont lose your kilt at!

A fun drumheller attraction

The Silent Auction

There were a lot of generous vendors who donated really cool swag for the Silent Auction. I know a lot of people are resistant to advertising, but without all of their support awesome things like the gala can’t happen. Some of the great stuff provided: a huge shortbread pack, gift baskets, gift cards, clothing, beautiful paintings, fossils, scotches, car accessories, power tools, jewelry, and more. There were reasonably valued items as well as high value items, so I can safely say there was something for everyone.

A fun drumheller attraction

The Entertainment

The bagpipes were provided by Sarah Newstead, who is an excellent piper. Not that I know much about bagpipers, but she sounded great. Not only did she have her highland pipes but she also brought her Scottish “small pipes”, which if you haven’t heard them before, they don’t sound anything like the screaming cats that traditional pipes can sound like. In fact, I would say the small pipes sound quite melodious and very pleasing to the ear. I didn’t get a recording of her on those so just search Scottish small pipes on YouTube & I think you will agree.

A fun drumheller attraction
“Sarah Newstead” she gave me permission to put her picture up. Her piping was excellent!

In addition to the piper, there was also more Celtic entertainment including the “Wayfaring Fiddlers”. I was also too preoccupied with my volunteer duties to record them, but just trust me they were pretty awesome. They also have a YouTube channel so why not check them out as well? It should be also noted that Don Brinkman, one of the fiddlers, also gave the Toast to the Haggis. He was quite good and gave an entertaining Burns speech.

The headliner of the night was St. James’ Gate, who seemed to be having just as much fun as the crowd. They are a Celtic band based in Alberta. They have 4 CD’s to date starting with “Serve Extra Cold” in 2002 and the latest is “License to Kilt” in 2009. They do a mix of their own material and covers of traditional Celtic music. The night of the gala they ended the night with a pretty damn pitch perfect rendition of ACDC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top”, and Bon Scott’s voice is not easy to impersonate! Personally, I think they killed it that night. I couldn’t record this one because by this time of night I really had to do my job, and make sure people weren’t getting too out of control.

A fun drumheller attraction
St Jame’s Gate

A fun drumheller attraction

What If You Want to Volunteer?

So as I said, I volunteered for this event. It was a really cool experience and I would not hesitate to do it again. I provided security to make sure people weren’t getting too drunk, going outside with their beverages, or leaving them on the grand piano. Not only do you get to experience the event, but you get a neat behind the scenes perspective of how an event like this gets pulled off. Barbara Steeves is the current Director of the museum, and she was the organizer for the whole event. She unfortunately (for the museum) is retiring this year. Fret not, I’m sure they will get someone equally as talented. An event like this needs help from regular people volunteering and doing things you might not see.

You can volunteer for the Springfest by going here

A fun drumheller attraction
Buy tickets or even volunteer
What the Volunteers Do

It took 1 chef to oversee the food, plus 6 prep cooks who peeled potatoes, cut vegetables, made the dressings, etc. There were also a few strapping young lads working the dishwasher. Also there was several people from the Community Center helping as well Along with bartenders and service staff. There were front end volunteers who took tickets, sold scotch tastings, and helped keep track of the silent auction, who also took part in cleaning up after the night was over.

A fun drumheller attraction
Did you know Alberta had a tartan? I know I didn’t
A Lot of Planning is Involved

It takes months of pre-planning to organize and put on this event. Not just on the day of, it took most of the morning just to get the room ready. I believe they started at 9 in the morning and the gala took until 2:30 AM, with the last call being at midnight, so it took a couple of hours to clean up. What I’m saying is that it’s a lot of work by a lot of people, so please help all of those people make events like this possible by just attending and having a great time. It would be a sad waste if events like these didn’t attract enough people. All these generous people want to do is support the Museum, and they are giving their valuable time to do that.

A fun drumheller attraction
Obviously you missed it but 2021 will have another why not plan to go now?

A fun drumheller attraction

Accomodations

Not only did I get to have a great time, I also got a hotel room comped. I stayed at the Heartwood Inn and Spa. It is a really nice hotel, with a fantastic owner and staff. I will talk more about it in my next post. I will still give a link because while the museum payed for the room from the budget, they still got a deal. The owner fully supports the museum, and even attended the gala, so I am happy to support a business that supports the community.

What if I Missed Robbie Burns Day?

Well obviously if you are reading this you probably missed this year’s gala, but there is always next year. Still want to join the fun this year? Well there is also the “Spring Fest” which the museum staff highly regard and talk about excitedly. Since the staff look forward to Spring Fest you probably should too. It is a music fest in Drumheller with several local talents in 3 different venues across the city. It sounds exciting, and if I didn’t have a prior engagement I would go myself. I am planning on going in 2021 if Covid 19 doesn’t kill us all 🙂 (it’s not going to kill us all, please stop panicking)

Covid 19

I really didn’t want to bring up Covid-19, but I guess I have to. As far as I know, at the time of publishing this blog, “Spring Fling” is set to go on. I spoke with the director Barbara who said it’s still going as planned. Since it doesn’t take place in all the same venue with everyone congregating in one area, they are still going ahead. Things could change, so keep watching the page for updates. Speaking to Barbara, she told me if they have to cancel it would be quote: “financially devastating for the museum”, so I really hope they are right, and if my engagement changes I think I will probably attend.

A fun drumheller attraction
A fun drumheller attraction
The Show Will Go On (as of March 15th 2020)

Travel inside of Canada is still safe at this time. If for some reason the show does not go on, please help me support them by helping my YouTube channel. I will say again, I will donate half of the video’s net earnings. Disclaimer: my channel has not monetized yet. Yes I am shamelessly pandering to you to help me help the museum, but I won’t apologize. You have nothing to lose, and it doesn’t cost you anything to watch my videos. Watching my other videos will help me monetize my channel. I will be honest, the requirements are pretty high: I would need 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of videos (cumulatively) watched by those subscribers, but I am still committed to honoring my statement. If I can get people to help me out, I don’t think my goal is unattainable.

A fun drumheller attraction
A fun drumheller attraction

Watch My Video!

Without further adieu, please watch the video I made about the Burns dinner. I worked very hard on it, so please like, subscribe, and even make a comment. YouTube will more likely feature a video that gets likes and subscribers. It would help a lot if you could share me on social media like Facebook. Just embed my YouTube link, because Facebook takes all of the advertising revenue for themselves, which is why I don’t upload directly to Facebook.

YouTube link

Looking for more things to do in Drumheller?

That’s it for this week. I was going to talk about the museum but this post has become very long so I think I will make this a 2 part post. Tune in on March 29th for more on the East Coulee School Museum. Thank you for your interest in my blog. Stay sanitary my friends!

Any comments are greatly appreciated.