In the 1990s, initial response to the Museum project and early fundraising efforts were successful, so as the new millennium approached, we forged ahead. A temporary museum facility was constructed and positioned at a beautiful spot in the heart of the North American continent at the International Peace Garden. Our dream was becoming a reality.
Initially, our Game Warden Museum site included a small temporary exhibit building and a “discovery trail” that wound through an aspen forest, past wildflower beds and a waterfall and around Lake Udahl. Officers who had fallen in the line of duty were honored along the walk. With the help of our partners we also installed our first major indoor exhibit and a learning platform was constructed on the lake.
Within the first few years of the effort and with just a small temporary facility, we attracted visitors from around the world, hosted guest speakers and wildlife professionals and completed five seasons of summer conservation programs.
With the success and growth we experienced, the museum quickly outgrew its temporary facility.
After 14 years of planning and fundraising, we began work on the final points of the permanent Museum’s Phase I construction plan. By mid-2004, we had raised 70% of the $500,000 Phase I fundraising goal. Construction on the permanent site commenced in the summer of 2004.
The Game Warden Museum Celebration Day, hosted July 21, 2004 at the International Peace Garden, was a benchmark in the profession’s and museum’s history. More than 400 conservation officers, their families and other honored guests gathered near the museum construction site to celebrate and dedicate the project.
Construction of Phase 1 was completed and the North American Game Warden Museum opened to the public in May 2005. Next to the museum a Memorial Garden was constructed to commemorate the profession’s fallen heroes. Officer monuments (cairns) were created to represent each jurisdiction in the US and Canada.