Winnipeg's historic Dalnavert Museum will become a haven for victims of crime.

The Manitoba Historical Society closed the museum on Carlton Street in downtown Winnipeg last September due to funding issues and a drop in attendance.

But now, the Victorian mansion will house Candace House, and fulfill a dream of Wilma Derksen, a Winnipeg woman who has become a staunch victims' rights advocate since her daughter's murder 30 years ago. 

Derksen has made an agreement with the Manitoba Historical Society to take over the mansion.

She said over the next two years, the property will be transferred and the agency that owns Candace House will eventually own the building.

She said it will probably cost $2 million to complete the deal, including the cost of doing some work the house needs.

"I love that house," Derksen said. "My heart aches that we can't, as a city, maintain the museum. But on the other hand I also feel the need of a Candace House." 

Derksen said she hopes to maintain its historic nature, but likely not to the extent it is now.

"A room here or there and then of course some of the pictures and everything throughout," she said. "We have to work all of that out. It's going to be really tough."

Derksen said Candace House will not be a home for victims of crime, but similar to a drop-in centre, staffed with counsellors and support workers. She even hopes one day it may even include a restaurant. 

She said the location is also ideal, only a few blocks away from the Law Courts building, giving victims of crime easy access to a safe place, whether to escape the spotlight or have lunch when court is not in session.

Deal saves historic site

The Manitoba Historical Society said the deal with Candace House means the Victorian mansion, which has been designated a national historic site, will be saved. 

Society spokesperson James Kostuchuk it actually brings the house full circle.

The mansion, built in 1895, was originally the home of Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. 

Kostuchuk said Hugh John Macdonald was a magistrate in Winnipeg. 

"He was known for using the home to provide services for people who were involved in the judicial system," Kostuchuk said. "So the home has a little bit of a history in that area."

Kostuchuk said part of the agreement with Candace House is that the grounds and the historic exterior will be maintained. He also hopes the house can also still be used for special events the Manitoba Historical Society hosts from time to time.

"The home would be available for all sorts of uses and maybe some of the ones that, you know, we would just continue the ones that we have, so, Christmas or Halloween or special activities," he said.