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Community Foundation of Swan Valley

Leaving an everlasting legacy for the Swan River Valley, Manitoba, Canada

Story – March 2, 2010

Gulash gives big to museum, grows community foundation

— March 2, 2010 by Trisha LaCarte, courtesy of Swan Valley Star and Times

Thanks to one man, his dog and a fateful run in with an unsuspecting porcupine, the Swan Valley Historical Museum now has a lasting financial benefactor though the Community Foundation of Swan Valley (CFSV).

Trisha LaCarte, Star and Times
Click to enlarge

Tony Gulash was looking for a way to receive tax credits and after a seemingly routine visit to the vet clinic he found his cause.

“I was introduced to the CFSV by Dr. Leach. I took a dog in with porcupine quills to the vet’s office. We were bringing it out and he slipped one of the (CFSV) pamphlets to me. We got talking and he gave me the facts on it. I was looking for tax credits and so I thought I could help the museum and help myself at the same time,” says Gulash with a chuckle.

The long time Valley resident has always had a passion for history, and was heavily involved with the museum for numerous years, putting in many hours of mind and muscle alongside his brother the late Vincent Gulash. But it was through the foundation he was able to ensure his hard work would not go to waste.

In 2008 Gulash made what he simply and modestly refers to as a ‘sizeable’ donation to the museum through a CFSV designated fund. “I’ve been associated with the museum for years, I always enjoyed it. It’s a (designated fund). The interest will go to the museum.”

“What inspired me in the first place was four stook teams took off from the thrashing and headed for the field in a contest to see who puts the fastest load on and brings it back to the separator. And after that I guess I started talking it up, and (the museum directors) figured if I’m talking it up maybe I should be on the board.”

Since that time Gulash has served on the board, was heavily involved with the Harvest Festival, a senior citizens’ restoration group, and many other initiatives. “We formed a senior citizens’ restoration group. We had about a dozen people who worked on different things like restoring old tractors or vehicles, even stationary engines. It was a place to associate, and we felt comfortable with each other. We thought it was a good thing,” he says.

Gulash has many fond memories of his adventures with the museum and the individuals he came to know and cherish. “At the Harvest Festival we always had a violin show. There was a lot of people that took part in the old-time dance with it after. At first it was pretty hard because we didn’t have the buildings, we just made a make shift. One year we went to Shilo to pick up army tents and put up a shelter to have our supper.” “We spent two or three days preparing, then three days of the event, and there was about three days of clean up after.”

Gulash also remembers reenacting what the trappers used to endure to bring in pelts to the fur traders. “We took a couple canoes up stream from the museum, we made out that we were bringing in fur to the fur traders,” he says smiling at the recollection.

Gulash was also instrumental in bringing in the clay oven. From procuring the bricks from the Doukhobor brick plant north of Thunder Hill, to transporting the 3,400 pound oven to the museum, it all remains a clear and valued memory for him.

All of this holds a place in his heart not only for the rich history and reality of times passed, but the hard times and strenuous labour of the early days. He wishes to honour the past while acknowledging how far we’ve come. “I’d hate to have it go to waste because we worked so hard to come to this.”

“I was brought in by train in 1938. We came in two families, my parents and my uncle’s family. I walked all the way out to the Saskatchewan border after we arrived here and the family went out – even my mother walked out (to homestead),” says Gulash, a mix of emotions and quiet strength evident in his voice.

Gulash continues on to speak of his wish for a display building, one which will hold in time and memory a reminder of the Valley’s roots. “We didn’t have it too easy. Being involved with the museum and gathering up all the articles and machinery, it seemed that we were stuffing it into a big building and not many people could see it. So we got so much of this equipment stored up so to make use of it while we’re still able. I thought it would be a good idea to put up a display building where they could be displayed in a manner where you can look at them from the back or front so our efforts wouldn’t be in vain.”

Gulash hopes his dedication to local history will be an inspiration for others to follow suit, and keep the memory alive. “Maybe there’s more people in this situation who could do with some tax credits and it’s a way of helping the Valley. If we don’t do it now, what’s going to happen to these articles? What I’d like to see is more of the generations after us to take over.”

The designated fund is now more than $57,000 strong, and is not only helping the museum, but its bolstering the financial abilities of the foundation through which it is invested. “It is a designated fund, all the earnings in interest go to the museum. But it has also raised the foundation’s (monetary base),” says Doug Hinchliffe, CFSV finance committee chair.

“We’re trying to reach $1 million as early as possible. We have approximately $956,000.” Why the $1 million goal? “A million sounds good,” says Hinchliffe, laughing at the simplicity of his answer.

“The money is invested by the Winnipeg Foundation. If they make 10 per cent, they’ll give us five per cent to give to the museum, and the other five per cent is capitalized on top of Tony’s (investment),” he explains, noting the principal amount remains untouched, ensuring an annual dividend for the museum throughout the years. The museum board of directors will decide how it’s spent.

“The community foundation has done well. It’s been less than five years. We’re trying to make $1 million by April 19, which was when we got our first dollar five years ago.”

“(We feel it’s important) basically because it’s endowed money, the principal is never spent. We can give back to the community around $50,000 a year (currently). And of course the endowed funds are going to do nothing but grow and we’re hoping in the next five years to have another $1 million so we can give back $100,000 (to the community),” Hinchliffe explains.

He also notes aside from a few large donations, most of the money has been procured through numerous smaller donations over the years. Hinchliffe is quick to point out the funds add up quickly.

The CFSV couldn’t be happier to have not only the support of the community, but are grateful donors are recognizing the benefits of donating through the foundation. Because the money is set up as more of an investment, it gives back year after year.

“I can’t think of a more efficient way for the Valley to benefit. As we get more and more money, we’ll be able to give more money. It takes some of the burden off taxpayers, it build playgrounds, and fix skating rinks. It will help. And if we ever get way up there we can give big bucks,” says Hinchliffe.

Gulash’s personal contribution has touched the board members and they are hoping it will inspire others in the community. “It’s fantastic and more people should be doing this if they feel really strongly and passionately about something they can invest it through the CFSV,” says Hinchliffe emphatically.