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Military museum gets new home

The new year has brought a new location for a one-of-a-kind museum in Pictou County.

The Pictou County Military Museum has moved from 2020 Queen St., Westville, to 2042 Queen Street. Not a big move in distance, but a massive move physically.

David Avery, with the museum’s eight-member volunteer board of directors, started moving the displays and artifacts to their new location in September.

“And these babies are not light,” he chuckles about the massive hand built wooden display cases.

Board member Allan Day guesses the cases weigh at least 100 pounds. “It took four of us to carry,” he says.

They were assisted with a lot of help from the Westville fire department members who moved all 31 of the heavy cases and staff members from the town – a testament to the pride Westville has for being home to the military museum.

The museum had been it its location in the same building as the fire department for about 15 years. It opened in 2005 and spent the first couple of years in New Glasgow. When it needed to be re-located, the Town of Westville stepped up to offer space.

Avery feels the square footage of its new spot is about the same as its previous spot, but with a few subtle differences.

“Here, we are able to dedicate certain rooms to particular themes,” he says gesturing. One room is dedicated to the Royal Canadian Air Force and Special Forces, another to the Royal Canadian Navy and American forces. There is a room filled with historical books, a display on the First World War Nursing Sisters. There is also a weapons room and a display of the Afghanistan War.

Another benefit to the new location is the museum has a washroom and elevator both located just outside of the welcoming foyer.

Framed photos and other memorabilia line the walls at every turn.

Avery has applied for a grant for a summer student and is hopeful it will be successful which will allow the museum to be open May 10 to August 27 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, but during those months will be closed for the holidays, i.e. Victoria Day, Canada Day and Natal Day. After that, the museum is open by appointment only.

Last summer, the threat of COVID-19 meant there were only 19 visitors at the museum compared with hundreds in previous years. This is catastrophic for the museum’s ability to operate since it depends on donations and fundraisers in order to survive and keep the insurance up to date. And in this case, there was a cost for an alarm system for the museum as well as the expenses associated with getting all of the guns trigger locked and de-activated and mounted on the weapons wall.

Pictou County Military Museum board of directors members David Avery, left, and Allan Day pose in one of the themed rooms at the museum’s new home in Westville. (Jardine photo)