The rich local history captured at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village (KBPV) now includes a building that celebrates this newspaper’s past.
A tourism hub with 27 structures and more than 30,000 artifacts, the village is developing a building that represents the home of the Rocky Mountain Echo, founded in 1900, and later became The Pincher Creek Echo.
“We’re always looking for new ways to interpret things and it starts with the artifacts that are available,” says Gord Tolton, education coordinator at Kootenai Brown.
Several years ago, the KBPV received the original hand-driven printing press used at the Echo and built an exhibit around it. With continued donations of artifacts related to both this exhibit and another near it, the space “started to outgrow itself,” Tolton says.
With the needed records maintained, the museum decided it had the resources to create a replica of the original Echo, he adds.
“We know where the place was built, and thanks to newspaper archives, we do have a lot of ideas on what happened inside that building over the years. We do have not a lot, but we do have quite a bit of photographic evidence. We know what the exterior looked like, we know what the activities were in each part of the building.”
The concrete foundation was poured in the third week of July, and construction on the 400-square-foot structure representing the Echo was completed last week. Artifacts — including the Pincher Creek Echo press, and another from a discontinued publication called the Coleman Journal — have been moved in.
“It’s all enclosed. Now it’s just a matter of trim, windows, doors … inside infrastructure,” says Tolton, adding the aim is to start furnishing it by this September, if not earlier.
A grand opening celebration for the building is slated for Sept. 14. Veteran journalist David Halton is set to be the event’s special guest. David’s grandmother Mary Halton worked for the Pincher Creek Echo as both a writer and editor, and his father, Matthew Halton, was a celebrated broadcast and print journalist, and is the namesake of Pincher Creek’s Matthew Halton High School.
“We have (volunteers) on our staff that are very talented and volunteer their time, they do this sort of thing in their job, and make a working holiday of it, put it together and that helps us be a little more economical in recreating it,” Tolton says of the replica Echo.
The cost of the project is $15,000, with $5,000 coming from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. The village has raised about 50 per cent of the funds presently and is accepting donations to assist with the balance of its expenses.
People interested in donating are encouraged to contact the village through the phone number and email on its website, www.kootenaibrown.ca.