The Dawson Trail Heritage Site was dedicated yesterday for pioneer family recognition day, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place.

Special guests participated in a dedication ceremony on Sunday to officially open the Pioneer Park.

"It's more meaningful to have descendants there to do the ribbon-cutting,” says Norm Lavack, excited to have descendants of some of the settlers cut the ribbon.

The entire construction of the shelter was done through volunteer help. As for finances, they had donations and financial help from the town of St. Anne, the RM of St. Anne, Dawson Trail Arts & Heritage, and other organizations and individuals.

Lavack has gained a lot of knowledge of the history in this area. He started researching pioneers of the area a few years ago. He looked into different places such as St. Anne, La Coulée, Richer, St. Raymond, Giroux, St. Genevieve, Caledonia, Dufresne, and Clearspring.

Researching the pioneers was not an easy task Lavack says. He started out by using the local parish Centennial book from 1876 to 1976, where he was able to find some names. But he wasn’t going to stop at that.

There were three main things Lavack wanted to achieve.

“First of all, to find the families, the pioneer families and early settlers. Secondly, I wanted to find the maiden names of the spouses or the mothers which at the time were very often neglected. So in recognition, I put in a lot of research, finding the names. And my third objective was to look at the origins of the people and the St. Anne area.”

After searching through the book Lavack was able to confirm some of his research by talking with the families of the first settlers, and they helped him verify some birth and death dates. He was able to connect with about 20 different people.

Lavack values the importance of heritage and knowing where you came from, he talks a bit about his own heritage.

“My great-great grandparents came from Quebec, went to the States and my grandfather was born in New York State but he was repatriated back to Manitoba in 1880. My own heritage, my own history, it goes through this process of immigrants, and, I think it's the same for any area, especially in the West.”

He concludes his thoughts by saying “it's important to remember that these people paved the way for us today. And they didn't have an easy life and we should recognize that and be grateful.”