As originally posted in The Midland Free Press
Article by Sharon Weatherall
Last week Nahanni Born – administrator for Huronia Museum, announced that an insurance settlement has been reached regarding the May 2007 fire at the Huron Ouendat Village and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The blaze destroyed a portion of the facility including much of the protective palisade and negatively impacted operations and programming.
“Reaching a settlement means that four years of trying to figure out what we will be doing with the village has ended -the waiting is over,” said Born.
“We can now move ahead to rebuild and improve the facility which has been operating at partial capacity since a few weeks after the fire. The timing if the settlement at the beginning of our tourist season is perfect because it brings the village into the forefront of news.”
Born says there have been some pretty big smiles on the faces of staff since the announcement of the settlement and at Huronia Museum would like to acknowledge the expert handling of the case by its lawyer, Mark Baker LLB, and the generous support of Ferguson Barristers of Midland, Ontario.
“The museum’s board of directors and staff now look forward to future development in the Huron Ouendat Village. Next there will be a special meeting with the board to go through the settlement in detail and look at the village recovery. What will happen next as far as work on the village will be discussed at the upcoming meeting,” said Born.
Huronia Museum would also like to thank the community for quick and ongoing support following the May 8, 2007 blaze, which enabled the village to begin functioning in a partial capacity just three weeks after the fire and continue to do so.
“We are very thankful to anyone who donated toward the village recovery project which included hauling cedar poles to replace the palisade shortly after the fire so the village could be enclosed, protected and operational. The community has been very supportive and we appreciate their patience,” said Born.
Time spent sorting out the legal details has been stressful not only for those dealing with the insurance settlement but on the museum itself having lost so much in artefacts and operating space.
“The fire impacted not only operations but educational and summer camp programming and it caused a huge stress on space because we kept collecting and carried on with what we had to continue operations and programs. It was very hard because we lost a lot of artefacts and replica artefacts used to interpretive purposes in the village,” said Born.
“Also there was an area in the village for maintenance and repair that was gone so all this had to move inside the museum and it’s been a tight squeeze. It created a huge stress on the museum having lost so much. History does not stop -we have to keep collecting the old stuff because that is our job but so much space is needed to do it. Now that the village will be fully functional again it will be much easier for everyone.”
The Huron Ouendat Village was founded by W. Wilfried Jury together with the archaeologist William J. Wittemberg and completed in 1956. Since that time it has become a major tourist attraction drawing thousands of people each year to the North Simcoe area. The village continues to be valuable teaching tool for school children across the province with quality educational programs. The village demonstrates how the Huron lived before the arrival of the first European settlers focusing on their lodgings, food and simple but productive ways of life.
With the recovery plan rolling into action in coming weeks, the Ouendat Village will only improve as a top tourist attraction with excellent educational programming to promote the impressive native history of the area.
Huronia Museum is located 549 Little Lake Park Road in Midland. For information please visit the web site: www.huroniamuseum.com or call 705.526.2844.