Jack Millikin Centre
Big River, SK
The Ness Creek Site, home of the Jack Millikin Centre, is a 320-acre site situated in the mixed boreal forest about five kilometres west of Prince Albert National Park. The Ness Creek community began in 1991 when like-minded individuals came together to host the first annual Ness Creek Music Festival. In 2003, the Ness Creek community decided that a four-season centre was needed to facilitate events at the site.
In 2008, the Jack Millikin Centre, Ltd. was registered as a nonprofit organization with two main goals: To design and build the Jack Millikin Centre, and to develop arts- and culture-based programming at the site. The centre was named after a local community icon, Jack Millikin, who was a beloved Big River elder. Jack, who emigrated to Canada from Scotland, devoted his life to his family and community. He was an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and volunteered his music for decades in the community. He was also a humble man. For Jack, community and volunteerism came first. The centre named its building in his honour, but also to remember and emulate those values he held so dearly.
Since the centre’s construction in 2015, the site has developed into a four-season mecca for the thousands of people who attend the multitude of cultural, artistic, and ecological events held annually. It’s home to four major festivals, a biennial international artist collaboration, art camps, music camps, national blacksmithing conferences, ecological land-based learning programs, cultural-sensitivity workshops, 20 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing, hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and many other events.
Now, the centre has become a beautiful 4,700 square foot building. The centre was built using a post-and-beam frame construction with locally sourced timbers, has highly efficient spray foam insulation (R-40) throughout, uses a 124-panel solar array on-site that produces 47,000 kilowatt hours of green power each year, and uses a highly efficient wood boiler that can heat up to 12,000 square feet. The space also has a variety of committees and volunteers that help keep it running year-round.
As a final step, the community needs to finish the trim on the windows and doors on the centre, helping ensure all their hard work does not go to waste, and that the space is kept energy efficient and accessible for years to come. If they are able to secure the funds for the materials, they’ll have amazing volunteers complete much of the labour needed for the project.