Garry Beckett, chair of the Moosomin Heritage Committee, says a special group may have to be formed if the old McNaughton Building is to be saved, and he says there are some people who may be interested in being a part of that group.
“It’s a small group,” he says. “It’s just in the initial stages of coming together.”
Beckett, who is also a town councillor, told Moosomin town council at their regular meeting on Dec. 17, that there has been interest in saving the old building, and that a group may be possible.
“Recently there has been a lot of interest from some other people who want to get involved in this project,” he told council. “Perhaps we can talk about creating a separate group or society as we did with the Armoury.
“We are hoping we can get this group organized to take this project on and make it something the community can be proud of.”
The old McNaughton Building, located on Carleton Street, is one of the first commercial buildings in Saskatchewan. The building served as a general store when the rail came west to the Moosomin area in the 1800s. Later, the McNaughtons built the large stone and brick McNaughton Building which sits across the street from the wooden building to this day.
The old wood structure has been designated a municipal and provincial heritage property, however the building is in extreme disrepair. The owners of the building would like it moved so that they can expand their business next door, however the building would need to be stabilized first, a location would need to be found, and someone would need to take ownership of the building.
Beckett says, if a group were to form to take on these responsibilities, it would take some pressure off of the local heritage committee.
“We are involved in lots of different heritage projects in town and we just don’t have the time or energy to dedicate so much work to one particular building,” he says.
While Beckett says there are only about half a dozen people expressing interest in saving the old building, he says it’s a start.
“I think if we got started and made some progress on this building, if we do go ahead with it, it will probably draw some interest in this group,” he says.
“As we get to some understanding of what is going to be involved here, I’m sure we will move forward with a loosely knit group.”
Beckett says that if a group doesn’t form to take on this project, the building won’t last much longer.
“It has to or else the building won’t survive if we don’t form a core group of people who are interested in saving it. If we don’t, its days are numbered.”
He says Saskatchewan Heritage would like to see the building saved.
“They would like to see it done ASAP. If we have another winter like last year or another rainy summer season, it would finish it.
“It needs to be stabilized right away.”
Beckett says the people who are interested in saving the building realize its historical significance.
“They are people who are interested in our heritage and preserving something that has a value to not just Moosomin, but the entire province. I think they are realizing if we don’t do something it’s going to be gone, and once it’s gone it will just be forgotten. I think Moosomin has quite a link with the first commerce in Saskatchewan, with this building being the first one in Saskatchewan being used for commerce.
“If we’re going to save it, its going to be up to people who are interested in rolling up their sleeves and doing a bit of work to save it, and maybe donate money to fund some of the expenses involved.”
If a group can be formed, and the building moved, Beckett says that group could potentially look after restoring, maintaining and repurposing the old building, as well as future fundraising.
“It’s going to be an ongoing thing once you find a location for it,” he says.