Renovation Project

A five year renovation project

The Building

When we took possession of this building, we had a vision and were determined that it would become a reality.  We never imagined how far it would come or how quickly. As you scroll down you can follow the progress of five years as it happened.

This is The Centre as it was a few years before we took it over and began our changes.  Notice the driveway through from the street to the back lane.  It was here big truck could pull up beside the carwash to wash outdoors. 

Fall 2014 – Our first action – we put up our sign.  Here Pat, Val and Bill are out on a frosty fall day to install it.

We removed the carpet and other “stuff” from the front room and moved in our donated and salvaged tables, chairs and supplies.  The previous occupants had left shelving behind which we instantly put to use as we prepared for the first class… introduction to working with clay – a handbuilding pottery class.

More recent improvements.  We have HOT WATER!  Sometimes the little things make a big difference.

We painted the “wood” sections around the windows.  Here you see the building decorated for the Christmas season.

 Spring 2015 – New planters for the front of the building were built, painted and planted.  The style chosen is in keeping with the vision of the building once finished.

Thanks to Marc Rivard for removing the hazardous old maples leaning on our roof.  Marc is also a community minded ISA certified arborist!  How lucky for us!

Sept 2015 – The planters were a  success!  Our planter boxes, made by Keith Farquhar, are decorative wooden bottomless frames with large tubs (with holes drilled in the bottom) inside. 

These wonderful new windows allow for natural lighting that is just wonderful for working in the arts.  Thanks to Hometown MB for their contribution towards the cost of our windows.

Thanks also to Keith Farquhar of KF Carpentry and his capable volunteer helpers Daniel Woods, Curtis Naylor and Kirk Naylor for their help to get these large windows into place.   See their fast action installation video here:


The interior of the east cinderblock wall of our front room has now been insulated, the wiring updated and it is painted and ready to go.  The new slatwall will allow us to hang and rearrange display items easily.  Thanks to KF Carpentry for your volunteer contribution to this installation.

Next… the new roof and more insulation!!

A big thank you is extended to Bill Wright for his ongoing help whenever needed to assist with whatever is needed at The Centre.  He has been a big help all throughout this project.


This was a very busy summer.  The roof was replaced and the interior of the art studio had a facelift while the carpentry and art studios were lined, insulated, windows and doors were installed and The Centre was wired, and painted.  There were many sponsors for this project but the funds received from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and Tundra Oil and Gas played a major role allowing this project to go ahead.

The “garage”, formerly a car wash, had a high almost flat roof and the back of the main building had a lean-to type roof.  Both were seriously in need of repair.  Roof replacement began in spring of 2016.

The Roof of the carwash is higher than the main building causing water issues.
Before - Note the roof line (or lack of it) above the grey wall
Roof at the north end in progress


This is by far our biggest accomplishment and we are so glad it has gone so well!  Thanks to Jeff Lelond for his skill and determination to get this new roof on.

Larry Schroeder has the front window installed on the woodworking studio.  Do you recognize it?  Scroll up to pic #2 at the top of this page.  Larry is busy inside framing and insulating the walls of the two renovated rooms.  A new door went on to the woodworking studio and a garage door in the rear.

The Interior

Twin Valley Coop donated the paint.  Volunteers got to work as soon as the drywall was complete.  The pottery studio shown on the left was ready for classes by fall of 2016.

We received a ceiling mounted heater on loan from Ron and Jean Barteaux which is keeping the back room warm.  Storage shelves have been hung from the ceiling to maximize floor work space.  Wow!

With donated shelves, a purchased counter top and some local volunteer expertise, we have a new counter and shelves for supplies in the art studio.  Slat wall above provides flexible display space.

With the generous assistance of the Manitoba Community Services Council, we were able to purchase a new pottery kiln in December of 2016, a new pottery wheel and six new tables for the front room.  The first wheel we purchased earlier in the year with funds from the Birtle and District Foundation.


These two wheels and two on loan meant the season kicked off with a very busy ten weeks of classes as 2017 begins .  The kiln has seen lots of action firing the pieces made in these wheel pottery classes


We held our Grand Opening and ribbon cutting in January, 2017 on Friday the 13th to celebrate completion of the Art and Pottery Studios !  We were pleased with the great turn out. Guests enjoyed refreshments and toured the Art and the Pottery Studios and had a glimpse of the partially finished woodworking studio.

Click here for a VIDEO TOUR of the new pottery studio including our two new wheels and the pottery kiln.  


In July of 2017 a new furnace and duct work were installed and are working and ready for fall weather… not that we are rushing it to arrive!  Thanks to Old Guys Plumbing for getting the job done!  Manitoba Community Places, the Value Shoppe,   Birtle and District Foundation and the Birtle Lions Club gave financial contributions to this project.

Great progress was made in the woodworking studio in 2017

After this room was wired, insulated and drywalled in summer of 2016.  As seen in the pics above, in spring of 2017, James and Tanner of James Copping Construction poured the concrete to level the floor.  Dust proof lighting replaced the existing lighting and the wiring for a new electric heating system was done by Sean McDougall, the new electrician who now calls Foxwarren home.

Shopping for small and large carpentry tools is now complete.  In addition to the large items already in the carpentry studio (table saw, shaper, mitre saws, and a lathe) we now have 2 drill presses, a jointer and a planer,  added mitre saws, a scroll saw, a bench sander, hand tools, clamps and more.  All you need for your small or large woodworking project.

In 2017 we brought in some topsoil and we have planted trees courtesy of the Manitoba Hydro Forest Enhancement program grant.


With the help and guidance from Rick at Plantland Nursery of Shoal Lake, we just beat the snow to have the front circle patio installed.  It will serve as an outdoor classroom and resting area.  In spring we will plant grass and a small flower garden by the patio.  This will be the location of our Country Markets in summer of 2018.  

Let there be light!  As 2017 comes to a close, things have really brightened up.  Electrician Sean McDougall installed new LED lights and KF Carpentry put up a new dropped ceiling over the Christmas break while no classes were happening at The Centre.  What a difference!  It is nice and bright even in the dark winter evenings.The patio, landscaping, ceiling and lights are all part of this almost finished phase of the renovation project.  Donations from Tundra Oil and Gas, Fusion Credit Union (formerly Vanguard Credit Union), Birtle Lions ClubPrairie View Municipality, the Birtle Value Shoppe, Manitoba Community Places Program and Manitoba Hometown Mainstreet grants and private individuals all contributed to the completion of this project. This continued support continues to warm our hearts and allow improvements to continue.

Two more pottery wheels were purchased in December of 2017 with the help of funds from the Birtle and District Foundation.  Thanks to Bill Wright for allowing us to use his wheels and tools until we were able to purchase our own.  We now have a total of 4 user friendly pottery wheels which will be perfect for beginner and advanced pottery projects.


Curb Appeal



Rick from Plantland is back!  To help resolve our elevation and drainage issues, a small retaining wall that doubles as a seating area thanks to a convenient height and wide top cap again!  Rick levelled things up ready for grass.  The wall helps keep some of the soil in place rather than washing down the hill.

Birtle Collegiate Landscape Construction Class and several community volunteers came to lay sod and you can bet we were all happy to see these young energetic people show up to help!

Valley Recreation District initiated a Community Garden project.  They have placed 4 raised planters on our property.  People in the community will be welcome to plant, care for and harvest from there space in the planters.  A fence has been erected to keep the deer from eating the produce.

A small perennial garden was planted between the patio and The Centre.  Of course it features an obelisk built at The Centre.

So many volunteers of all ages!  Thanks everyone!

Birtle in Bloom requested space for a garden shed to store their supplies and tools where they will be close to the parks and gardens they care for.  This means their tools and other supplies will be available to the volunteers regardless of who attends each week.  There will be room to also store the lawn mower for The Centre.  The shed is being built with financial donations from the Birtle Lions Club, Birtle Value Shoppe, Prairie View Municipality, a private donation and it was built by the Birtle Collegiate Contruction class.  The Classic Garden committee is delighted to see so many organizations able to make use of the space around The Centre.

Limestone rocks given to The Centre were used to create a shady rest space in north of the building and in close proximity to the Community Hall

With the support of Hometown Manitoba Mainstreet Program, we were able to purchse new planters for the front of our building and one for the patio.  These Alfa Desert Planters have large reservoirs which means no more daily trips to water the plants.  The reservoirs also help to keep the roots cool despite the south facing building exposure.

Pictured below are the finished retaining wall which also functions as a seating area on the patio, and the garden in 2019.  It is filling in quicklyl.   

The Finishing Touch


NEW FLOOR – Good bye dust. Hello new programs!

Pottery dust needs to be cleaned up using wet rags/mops.  The concrete floors in the Art Studio and Pottery Studio were rough and difficult to clean effectively.  In March we were able to cover the old concrete with new commercial flooring.  This means the floors can be maintained much easier and to a much higher standard.

With new flooring is installed, dust from working with clay is more easily controlled.  Our sewing program can now begin.  Under the supervision of seamstress, Shirley Barteaux, beginner sewing classes for youth and adults are now underway.

Four new sewing machines have been purchased and a custom storage cabinet is being constructed by the ever talented Bill Wright.  It will match the one he made in the fall for pottery supplies.

In addition to the sewing classes, we are planning two quilting events that will involve a weekend program.  We will invite instructors to offer instruction in quilting, sewing, and/or fibre arts.  The new sewing machines will be available to the public to use during open studio times (after completing an orientation),  These are some of the plans for programming in addition to the regular arts, pottery, knife making, and wood working that are offered throughout the year.

As we wind up our renovations, we recognize and say THANK YOU  to our many sponsors:  Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and Tundra Oil and Gas and to the Birtle Lions Club, the Birtle Value Shoppe, the Birtle District Community Foundation, Manitoba Community Services Council,  Prairie View Municipality,   Twin Valley Coop Ltd, Fusion Credit Union (formerly Vanguard Credit Union),  Manitoba Community Places Program, New Horizons for Seniors Program, BCI students, and to the many businesses, organizations and community citizens who have contributed financially, supported our fundraisers, attended work bees to help out, and those who have attended classes and workshops.   We can’t believe how far we have come and it is all because of your support that allows the renovations, programs and development of The Centre to continue.