The Motherwell Homestead opened for the season on May 20 and was marked by the grand opening of the Stueck Nature Walk — the success of an ongoing partnership between the Friends of the Motherwell, Parks Canada, and the (Hugh and Wanda) Stueck family. What should have been a celebration of a monumental accomplishment for this partnership was realized in a bittersweet moment of celebration, largely overshadowed by recent government cuts that threaten the future of both the Site and the Nature Walk.
Hugh and Wanda Stueck had a long history of partnership and support with Parks Canada and the Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site. As owners of the land when the homestead was given its status of historical significance, they worked together with Parks Canada to realize the dream of what is has become today. They were also involved with the Friends of the Motherwell over the years. This involvement and support did not stop with Hugh and Wanda but continues on today through their children and grandchildren.
It was a dream of Hugh’s several years ago to develop this nature walk out to the area where W. R. Motherwell built his first home — before the fieldstone house that the site is famous for today. Through contribution funding from the government, funding from the Friends of the Motherwell themselves, and the co-operation of many volunteers and businesses, Hugh’s dream has become a reality.
On hand for the grand opening and ribbon cutting was staff of the Site, representatives from the Friends of the Motherwell, and site supporters — as well as the odd visitors who were lucky enough to stumble upon the ceremony.
Site Manager Flo Miller started the ceremony by welcoming everyone and thanking both the Friends of the Motherwell and the Stueck family for their dedication to the project. Ben Stueck, representative of the Stueck family and grandson to Hugh and Wanda, spoke on behalf of the family and thanked both Parks Canada and the Friends. He shared thoughts of his family’s history with the site and expressed his dismay in hearing about the budget cuts scheduled to come into effect as of the 2013 season. To wrap up the brief speeches, Friends of the Motherwell President Donna Wilkes gave her round of thanks and a bit of history on the project. She cut the ribbon and the first official steps on the trail were taken.
The Stueck Nature Walk is approximately one kilometer round-trip and includes a dock out onto a body of water with a spectacular (and different) view of the Motherwell Homestead. Signs describe different plant and animal life that may be seen along the way. Visitors, for this year anyways, will have the opportunity to venture on the path, through the middle of a crop, to an oasis on the prairies and see, if only for a moment, the same peaceful nature that W. R. Motherwell, as an early settler would have been so very accustomed to.