There are a few citizens who have reportedly wondered why many others in town have chosen to toss hard-earned money into the restoration of the Sinclair House.
The 125-year-old home was finally brought to the Innisfail and District Historical Village last week, and it was quite an emotional moment for village officials when this relic was moved onto its foundation.
It was the culmination of a two-year roller-coaster ride that included near heartbreak a year ago when historical society officials were forced to consider a motion to cancel the project because they could not come up with $17,000 to match a provincial grant.
But the public answered the call, and that is just one very big reason why this project is so important to each and every Innisfailian. There is no other project, with the possible exception of the enhanced playground project at the Innisfail Schools Campus in 2015, that best illustrates what the heart of the town looks like. And that is commitment, generosity, hard work and a newfound yearning to save the past no matter how difficult the obstacles may appear.
The scribbler says “newfound” because we must remember there were prior opportunities to save vital historical monuments but those were missed. The town lost all its classic pioneer wooden grain elevators, and we still cannot forget the water tower controversy more than a decade ago. That too is gone forever.
But today we have seized the Sinclair House, as decrepit as it may now look, sitting battered but proudly in the southeast corner of the historical village.
In three to five years, following even more dedication and hard work from village officials, the Sinclair House will shine as a brilliant beacon for all proud Innisfailians knowing many people cared enough about the past to ensure it will always be there for locals to use and enjoy as a community meeting place. Most importantly, it will be a venue for folks to learn more about the people who braved the pioneer days when there wasn’t even running water in homes, no telephones, no radios, and barely any evidence at all that the decision to settle here, like David and Isabella Sinclair did, was the correct one.
We all truly know it was. Look at Innisfail today with its boundless spirit and optimism, a town of almost 8,000 citizens that have every convenience and opportunity before them. It is a community that is the envy of any other.
And that is why the good and forward-thinking folks tossed their money into saving the Sinclair House. They were looking to save the past to remind them of the gratitude they need to show today, and to give greater meaning for future generations.
It is the greatest gift any community can receive.
Johnnie Bachusky is the editor of the Innisfail Province.