Miles Canyon Historic Railway Society to merge with MacBride Museum

By next fall, the Miles Canyon Historic Railway Society and the MacBride Museum of Yukon History will be one.

By next fall, the Miles Canyon Historic Railway Society and the MacBride Museum of Yukon History will be one.

The MCHRS announced March 18 its members voted unanimously to merge with the museum.

The society operates the waterfront trolley and the Copperbelt Railway & Mining Museum off the Alaska Highway.

The goal of the merger is to both save costs and attract more tourists said Keith Halliday, chair of the MacBride Museum board. (Disclosure: Halliday is also a columnist for the News).

“The overall context, it’s been a tough 10 years for the heritage and museum sector,” he said.

“The economy and tourism sector have had their struggles.”

Costs keep going up, he said, making it more difficult for smaller organization to stay afloat.

“If we can work together we can save costs: we don’t need two websites, we don’t need two phone lines,” Halliday said.

Ultimately, the merger will benefit the territory, the MCHRS said.

“The goals of our organization and the ability to tell Yukon’s stories are greatly enhanced by joining MacBride Museum, a leading heritage organization in the Territory,” MCHRS’s president Randy Lewis said in a statement.

“We were tasked with overcoming several challenges relating to our organization’s capacity to grow,” said Angela Drainville, the executive director of MCHRS.

“Issues relating to succession planning, human resource demands and board recruitment were recurring themes that could not be overcome.”

It’s not clear yet what the merger will mean in terms of jobs and programming.

Drainville didn’t return the News’ calls by press time today.

For now the Museum and the MCHRS have said they will be offering a joint summer camp at the Copperbelt Railway & Mining Museum as well as joint summer programming at the Waterfront Trolley Roundhouse.

“In the long term some of those operational issues still have to be ironed out,” Halliday said.

MacBride will also talk to its main funding partner, the Yukon government, he said, to make sure the waterfront activities are sustainable in the long-run.

The museum is in the middle of a $6-million expansion. The merger won’t affect construction, Halliday said.

The MCHRS will exist as a legal entity until the fall, he said, at which point the museum should have a long-term plan ready.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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