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Edmonton’s Pioneers Cabin venue turns to fundraising amid COVID-19 struggle

Edmonton's Pioneers Cabin, formerly known as the Old Timers Cabin on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. Morris Gamblin / Global News

A popular Edmonton venue is the latest organization facing hardship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pioneers Cabin, formerly known as the Old Timers Cabin, is usually booked year-round for weddings, parties and other events.

But this year, the majority of those have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

“We have had a substantial, substantial drop in our revenue,” said Dorinda Emery, the executive director of the Northern Alberta Pioneers & Descendants Association, the non-profit charitable organization that runs the venue.

The group sent out a fundraising plea to past clients in hopes that Edmontonians will step up to keep the cabin running and keep its staff from being laid off. So far, there haven’t been layoffs, but Emery said it could soon come to that. The building currently costs around $30,000 per month to run.

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The organization is mainly a historical association that aims to preserve Alberta’s pioneer history.

“The cabin itself stands as a tribute to those people who established this community,” Emery said.

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The city donated the land off Scona Road south of downtown to the group but it pays for the upkeep of the building, which was built in the 50s using traditional log construction, as a tribute to the area’s pioneers.

Emery said the main costs to the organization are general upkeep to the Pioneer Cabin’s structure.

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“Just at the time that the COVID outbreak started, we finished our lower-level renovation — that was to bring the building up to code. So that was an expenditure of about $500,000,” she said.

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She added that about 138 events that were planned this past year either rescheduled or completely cancelled. While several “intimate” weddings and meetings took place, the hit to the organization was hard.

“There has been the odd function, but for all intents and purposes we are closed down,” Emery said, “with us being unable to host the many social events which we [normally] do.”
The Pioneers Cabin in Edmonton. Morris Gamblin / Global News

Emery added the group was also in the midst of rebranding the venue from the Old Timers Cabin to the Pioneers Cabin when the pandemic struck.

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