Social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitizing. These may be words you’re sick of hearing, but thanks to these simple yet effective protocols, we were able to carry on with activities at Lower Fort Garry in a unique and creative fashion. In a new world of Zoom parties and Facetime calls, we managed to pivot activities to give our members a little bit of the in-person socialization that was much needed during these difficult times.

We started the summer off by hiring our new Executive Assistant, Zach Harrison, who took on the role of planning programs, events, and managing day-to-day communications. In his time with Friends of Lower Fort Garry, he also crafted a 3-Year Strategic Plan with the help of the Board and launched an E-commerce shop, Stone Fort Trading Co.

After hours of Zoom calls with our Board of Directors over the course of the summer, we made the decision to continue offering some of our workshops and events with safety ultimately at the forefront. We started with the safest activity that came to mind, which was our Yoga on the Red program that we offer every summer. We then worked our way into an outdoor Sign Making Party, and ended year with a Bead Making Workshop, with well-known local beadmaker, Bronwyn Butterfield

Event Cancellations

Unfortunately due to the circumstances, we decided to cancel our well-known Harvest Fest which consists of a massive two-day market at Lower Fort Garry, featuring makers, creators, tinkerers, and farmers, showcasing made by hand, original work. Included in this two-day event are a variety of workshops, food trucks, supplementary historic activities, and participants can learn how early settlers and local Cree and Ojibway people prepared for winter in the 19th century. In 2019, we had over 5000 attendees, over the course of the weekend.

We also had to postpone our annual Open Fire Brewing workshop, where participants learn how to make beer from scratch. As well as listen to stories about alcohol production and consumption in England and North American in the 19th century, and Lower Fort Garry’s role as the first brewery in Western Canada. At the end of the night, participants take home a growler of their very own.

The Pivot

At the peak of code red, we knew that we would have to pivot to find other revenue streams in order to try and stay afloat. With the help of grants and community donations, we were able to keep Zach on board to start developing our E-commerce site and continue planning toward 2021. In this time, he’s also been planning new online events that we hope to announce in the coming weeks.

Despite some of our small wins along the way, it definitely was not easy at times. We often found ourselves getting discouraged by planning events that we knew had about a 10% chance of actually happening. Although times have been difficult, we continue to plan for this year with much excitement and anticipation.

With 2021 just beginning, we have plenty to look forward to, from online events to workshops. We hope you stayed tuned to join us for all of the exciting things we have planned.

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