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Challenge coin will benefit Crowsnest Museum

Thursday, 02 November 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Challenge coin will benefit Crowsnest Museum
Chris Matthews invites you to drop by the Crowsnest Museum gift shop, where you can browse a wide variety of local merchandise and pick up your challenge coin.   Photo by Shannon Robison

Challenge coin will benefit Crowsnest Museum

By Shannon Robison

The Crowsnest Pass Historical Society is all about preserving the unique cultural history of the community and has a new way to do this and to raise money for the local museum at the same time.

Ken Montgomery, proprietor of Stand Tall Imports, approached the society with an interesting project to support restoration of the Alberta Provincial Police Barracks and exhibit in Coleman.

Ken is a retired Edmonton Police Service detective who now resides in Medicine Hat.

He suggested creating a challenge coin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the APP and the opening of the barracks in Crowsnest Pass this year.

“Challenge coins are a military and police phenomenon,” says Chris Matthews, executive director of Crowsnest Pass Museum.

The coins, bearing the insignia of a specific organization, were used by members to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale.

They arise from a military tradition where one soldier would attend a pub and challenge a fellow member to a round of drinks by laying his regimental coin on the bar. If the challenged member failed to produce his coin, he bought. If he did produce it, it was the challenger who bought.

Ken created the concept and design, which features the APP crest on one side and an image of Const. Stephen Lawson and the Coleman police barracks on the other.

Const. Lawson was murdered in front of the barracks during a confrontation with notorious bootlegger Emilio Picariello and Florence Lassandro in 1922. The restored building was officially opened on Canada Day to celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the APP’s founding.

The major exhibit tells the story of the police force, the Prohibition era, the shooting of Const. Lawson, and the trial, sentencing and hanging of Picariello and Lassandro.

Chris says the coins will help to promote the barracks and the stories that tie in with the exhibit.

The coins are available locally at the museum gift shop and are also for sale on eBay for $19.99. The initial run was for 300 units and they were produced at no cost to the historical society.

“Ken was gracious enough to give us $5 from the sale of each coin,” Chris says.

Another recent fundraiser for the museum was the annual Harvest of Memories, which raised about $25,000.

Chris says this is comparable to previous years and is pleased that people are still coming out and showing support for the museum despite tough economic times.

He feels the new APP exhibit has been a draw, with people coming to Coleman specifically to see it. “It’s been a really good season and people are appreciating the value of having the second site included as part of their admission,” Chris says.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the barracks open by appointment during these hours.

Drop in, check out the exhibits and buy your challenge coin while supplies last.If you would like to purchase a coin on eBay, you can find the item at www.ebay.ca/itm/like/263238825144?chn=ps&dispItem=1.

The reverse side of the APP challenge coin designed by Ken Montgomery.   Image courtesy of Crowsnest Pass Historical Society