Onoway Museum Archives - a
Factual Window into the Past
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.
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
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.
invoice – Struve
farmer Henry Struve splurged
and bought a Ford car for $175
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.
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
partial records; chances of the complete
documentary history of an organization,
e.g. Red Cross, is likely only if the
organization has formally disbanded.
S.D. Cash book
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 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
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.
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
be more fun for kids than attending
Vacation School at the Anglican
Onoway in 1960?