Looking Back


Onoway Museum Archives - a Factual Window into the Past


The week of June 6 10 is Archives Week. The archives at Onoway Museum is a little known secret a treasure trove of historical records. When the Onoway Museum was started in 2007, attention was focused on the physical objects that local people had owned/used/created over the years. Several years later, the archives became a separate part of the museum as the result of a growing collection of documents, letters, photographs, records from organizations, etc. The materials in the archives are contemporary records created by individuals and organizations as they go about their daily life, thus providing a true look into the past.


Registers dating back to 1909 from schools in Onoway and area are a very special component of the archives. Financial records of school districts and municipalities are a valuable source of information, e.g. where people lived, how much they paid in taxes. Information from local businesses (whether it's receipts for customer purchases, wages paid to staff or sales pitches) reminds us of how digitization has transformed society.


Envelope to Ledger
Car Invoice - Struve

Envelope to Ledger

Wilfred Ledger emigrated to Canada with his family in the early 1920s in order to manage the farm on which the Onoway Hospital was located. After a few years, he bought Sid Yeoman's store in Onoway and moved to town.

Car invoice Struve

Local farmer Henry Struve splurged and bought a Ford car for $175 in 1934.

Families and individuals have also donated their records to the museum archives so you can find out how much local farmers received for cream. Or you can read the letters sent to Onoway's pioneers from family members left behind in England. Certificates everything from birth certificates to marriage licenses, school report cards and music festival diplomas - are important sources of information.


Records from several clubs, organizations and charities are part of the collection, e.g. Boy Scouts, Lac Ste. Anne Music Society, Women's Institute. These may be only partial records; chances of the complete documentary history of an organization, e.g. Red Cross, is likely only if the organization has formally disbanded.


Beaupre S.D. Cash Book Tax
Community Hall Rentals

Beaupre S.D. Cash book

The Beaupre School District Cash book shows that in 1934 G. Roberts paid $5.70 tax on his car, W. Appell paid $17.43 property tax and C. Armitstead paid $55.09 on his rural property.

Community Hall rentals

The Onoway Community Association ledger shows that the hall was a busy place in the 1930s plenty of dances, picture shows, meetings. They even received rent from the School District because the building was used as a classroom.

Photographs are part of the archives collection. These include informal and formal family photos, public events, views of the streets of Onoway or farms in the surrounding area anything and everything.


Although the Onoway Museum is open weekdays year-round, access to the archives is restricted. Visitors doing research are welcome but because of the fragility and uniqueness of the documents, museum staff or trained volunteers must be present to assist with searches. That said, before you toss out those old papers and faded photos that are cluttering up the attic (or the basement), look again. These could be more than just your family's history but also important historical items that should be preserved for the benefit of all Albertans and Onowayans especially.

Vacation School 1960

Vacation School 1960

What could be more fun for kids than attending Vacation School at the Anglican Church in Onoway in 1960?


 Return to Home Page
 Last updated: June 6, 2022