Welcome to the Harvest Moon Learning Centre located in Clearwater, formally known as the Clearwater school. I wanted to take a fresh look at the centre without 3000 or more people kicking around as is the case when the sold-out Harvest Moon festival takes place. I had previously planned for a meeting with the Harvest Moon society manager, Lydia Carpenter so it seemed like the perfect time to take a self-guided tour of the site as well.
Beginning from the outside and as you enter the centre is this mural. Taking some time to really look at it I saw, of course, the Harvest Moon logo but also the lined paper in the background. This speaks to the centre’s roots, where it came from and also what it currently does. Acting as a learning centre for all ages. School closures are hard on everyone, Clearwater was one of the many schools that were forced to shut down in the province due to low numbers of students over 18 years ago. From that closure Harvest Moon itself was formed out of just a handful of local people and a few city folks. The society purchased the school with the promise to keep it open and accessible to the community.
Housed inside is the Clearwater nursery school, an ever-popular program that the residents of the Municipality of Louise have been enjoying and trusting for years. The centre also has a certified commercial kitchen and multiple other classrooms that get used for a variety of workshops, university courses, and gatherings. Often times the space changes based on the groups that come through. Since the last time I visited this new wall mural has been painted on the wall. The U of M Living Rural course (over 40 university students) that came in August painted this as a parting gift for the centre itself.
There are 4 dorm rooms set up with enough room to sleep 12 people comfortably and even more if you want to set up your own beds in other rooms or in the summer tenting is always an option. This does not include the incredible eco-cabins outside which I will get to later.
The whole place has WIFI which as most residents know in Clearwater is a luxury as it is even difficult to find cell service. It is my understanding that this feature is a must for all events, classes and courses in order to provide quality education and safety. Interesting as we move forward with attaining high-speed internet for the Municipality of Louise how once again it is proven that rurally in order to maintain and even compete, we need access to faster more reliable internet service.
Outside there is a play structure, a greenhouse, patios, a fire pit, and sitting area, a lookout that shows off the breathtaking valley and 2 eco-cabins. These cabins were built by the U of M Architecture class a few years ago where they used material that was initially used for something else like a house or previous structure, cleaned it up, redesigned it and built these incredible eco-cabins. Now I say eco-cabins because these little gems are not connected in any way, no hydro, no running water (that means no toilets either!). Good thing they are only a few steps away from the learning centre itself where everything that you could want is there and handy. These cabins are great for those who want to disconnect, people that need to recharge and not be distracted by the speed of life. Seriously gorgeous little cabins that are created with your comfort in mind but also art and architecture! A must-see when you venture to Clearwater.
I took a little tour around the gardens; local residents share this garden space that is protected by a fence to keep the deer and rabbits out. The uniquely designed fence also serves as a chicken run for laying hens in the summer! How cool is that? There are multiple raised beds inside this protected fenced area. Community members who are wanting to have their own garden space with the convenience of sharing the space with others. There are plenty of fruit trees and perennials that the local gardening community harvest and share.
So, besides the ever-popular Harvest Moon Festival that Clearwater is known for is this unique learning centre with a rich history nestled in the magical town of Clearwater. Some perspective here is good, the town of Clearwater has a population of 65 on an average day. Clearwater has two large events every year, the Clearwater July 1st. Baseball tournament which swells this tiny town to 1500 and the perennial Harvest Moon Festival that draws in over 3000 people plus the centre itself bringing 100s throughout the year. So, when I refer to magical it is true, the small volunteer base of Clearwater can pull off amazing things all the while happily accepting help from their urban friends. This collaboration is what sets this tiny town apart. Instead of trying to exist completely on their own merit they collaborate with a unique and creative community that has expanded the Harvest Moon Learning Centre into a destination in itself.
Contact Harvest Moon by calling 204-873-3858
Or check them out on Facebook
Pamela Cavers, CDO for the Municipality of Louise
Contact me at:
Community Development Officer LCDC
Municipality of Louise
204-825-3879 call or text