Less than two years after launching a capital campaign to raise money to pay for necessary repairs to the Walker House, the fundraising committee has its goal in sight.
Sylvia Leigh co-chairs the fundraising committee with Avis Dalgarno.
“We started our capital campaign in the fall of 2020, amid all the uncertainty of the pandemic,” said Leigh. “We set an ambitious goal of $125,000 from community donations and we have been absolutely thrilled by the response. Many people weren’t spending money on travel and special occasions and decided to donate to our local cause instead, and we are so grateful. Many thanks to our wonderful community for rising to the occasion and helping us preserve Walker House for the future.”
So far, the committee has raised approximately $116,000.
Leigh said the board’s “first priority is to preserve and maintain the Walker House and inspire public interest in preserving the building.” To do that, the renovations required to revitalize the structure have been extensive, in particular on the west side of the building, which is battered by winds and the elements during all seasons.
Leigh and the team are grateful to all who have contributed to the renovations, from those who donated, to those who painted boards and storm windows. Community groups such as the Kincardine Lions and 100peoplewhoshare, stepped up with donations that really got the fundraising ball rolling. And she offers special thanks to Bird Construction, who have embraced the project and performed meticulous replacement of the building’s boards, replaced roof shingles and constructed a new outdoor porch at the Harbour Street entrance of the building. Leigh estimates about 95 per cent of the construction is complete.
With the campaign nearing completion, the committee is busy working on permanent outdoor signage to thank individuals, businesses and organizations who have been so generous with their time and money. The donor signs will acknowledge contributions in four categories: platinum, for donations of $5,000 or more, gold - $1,000 or more, silver - $500 or more and bronze - $250 or more. As the mockups won’t be ready for proofing until May, those wishing to make additional gifts can still do so and raise their position to the next level of giving.
Projects such as the Walker House are truly a labour of love. Minimal government funding is available, so those with the passion to maintain such a historic building do so knowing they must be creative to pay for upkeep and operating costs. The HVAC system replacement is in progress, and the board has asked its architect to create a maintenance plan, so that repairs, and the cost of those repairs, can be better managed.
The Walker House offers regular tours, conducted by summer students, who also upgrade museum records and maintain displays, develop new displays and manage promotion. An Indigenous art installation is set to open in June. It is also home to The Industry Room, a delightful pub open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. The Industry Room also handles event rentals for the Walker House, and has coordinated weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, celebrations of life and receptions.
Information regarding booking an event, arranging tours or making a donation can be found by calling 519-396-1850 or through the website at www.thewalkerhousekincardine.com. Donations by e-transfer -firstname.lastname@example.org, via Canadahelps or mailed to Walker House at 235 Harbour Street, Kincardine N2Z 2X9 are gratefully accepted.
Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent