Since the start of COVID-19, many businesses have had to close their doors, and many companies from the recent lifting of restrictions have been able to open to the public, but many have had to close their doors to the public. Gem of the West hadn't been open since the start of COVID-19 and not until the beginning of Mid-June when they had fit into stage 2 of re-opening to the public. Last year, the museum didn't get to open its doors to the public, so most of the season, the local attraction wasn’t open. With COVID-19 impacting many tourist spots like the museum — funding wasn't available. Since the recent lifting of restrictions in the province of Alberta, the Gem of the West had seen more support from the public based on the museum not being able to open up last year. "We've had a good amount of people coming in. I think people are just happy to be getting out," said museum Manager Craig Day. Day noted the museum had recently been doing construction since the start of last year due to issues with water. “The Indigenous exhibit spaces were reduced in size. The museum had to block it off to the public from the damaged areas.” Day added the museum is always looking for volunteers, especially to help out with set-ups and tear-downs and with handling tables. As for events, last week the museum offered tours during Coaldale’s Main Street celebration. Gem of the West got its start in 1995 — but wasn't open to the public until 2001. Today, in addition to the museum, the building also serves as a venue for the town’s public programs, events and functions and as an office for the Town of Coaldale’s Community Services Department.
Jaxon McGinn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sunny South News