For all intents and purposes, the historic Criddle/Vane Homestead Heritage Park has been struck by recurring vandalism to the point that it essentially is no longer open to the public.
Such a shame.
The park, which is located about 40 kilometres southeast of Brandon, is a 130-hectare area that preserves and protects the heritage value of the former homestead of the Criddle/Vane family.
The Criddle/Vane Homestead became Manitoba’s 79th provincial park in 2004 and has been lovingly cared for by members of a committee dedicated to preserve and rebuild the homestead and facilities on site.
The Criddle and Vane families were Prairie pioneers who became well known for their contributions to science — especially entomology, the study of insects — art, sports and culture. While the last family members left the homestead in 1960, the land, which was acquired by the provincial government in the 1970s, still holds the Criddle family home, and the first entomological field station in Western Canada.
But after all the time and effort to reclaim the site, these heritage buildings are in danger of becoming worthless thanks to thoughtless vandals who take advantage of the lack of protection and security at the site.
“Due to its remote location it has unfortunately been subject to recurring vandalism,” a spokesperson with Conservation and Water Stewardship said. “Other parts of the park — main house and second lab — have been boarded up and closed off from public access due to security concerns.”
Police aren’t sure when the latest bout of destruction occurred, which included the smashing of a protective panel on the home.
Staff from the nearby Spruce Woods Provincial Park monitor the site, but they can’t be there all the time. And in spite of the frequent vandalism, there are no plans to increase security at the site.
With no grant money in place to pay for repairs, this unique little historic site is only going to deteriorate further. The best that can be hoped for at present is the identification of any suspects who caused the damage.
We have called on the province before to do more to protect the site. There should be some attempt to make the site more vandal-resistant, such as a locked gate or better security.
Until that happens, a little more of Manitoba’s heritage gets destroyed every year.