Looking Back


It's Not Garbage!

The collection of artifacts at the Onoway Museum is, for the most part, the result of donations by current and past residents of the community and surrounding area. These are usually pieces that have been kept by a family member or organization over the years and the idea of a permanent site where these pieces would add to Onoway area's history was seen as a welcome "home".


There are, however, some pieces that turned up quite miraculously after being salvaged from the garbage!


Back in the day when people in the village of Onoway left their garbage in the back alley to be picked up by Public Work, an old wooden trunk was spotted one day. It ended up in the museum and in it, among other pieces, was a worn oval-shaped 19" x13" photo of Ambrose Gray, taken around 1915. He was a farmer, barber, trapper, hunter, roadbuilder.


Another find came from the Onoway Transfer Station. A rural resident had brought some bags to the dump and noticed a looseleaf binder showing the cover of the Alberta Report magazine (August 21, 1981 issue) lying there. This was apparently a scrapbooking project that was a history of Devil's Lake Corral - newspaper clippings, programs, ticket prices. It couldn't be left there so to the museum it went.


Construction sites have also yielded relics from Onoway's history. While preparing to build a home on Hospital Hill, earth-moving equipment uncovered what may have been the garbage dump from Onoway's hospital. Rusted remains of food containers, chicken bones, medicine bottles, a banged-up enamel pitcher are now part of the hospital exhibit at the museum.


Devils Lake Corral

Ambrose Gray farmed along the Sturgeon
River from the 1910s until he and
his wife Mary moved to Onoway in
1944 where they lived in a house next t
o the stone barn, site of today's
bottle return depot.
Mrs. Gray was renowned for handmade
beaded jackets, etc. made from tanned leather.

"Hospital Hill" north of Onoway
was the site of
St. Barnabas Mission Hospital (1913 1937).

The hospital's kitchen staff fed
patients, nursing staff and other workers.

Devil's Lake Corral was an entertainment complex
that brought internationally known performers
to Onoway.

People like Johnny Cash, Anne Murray
and Tom Jones performed
to sold-out crowds in 1981 1982.

And down by Lac Ste. Anne at Water's Edge development, a 24"x12" sign hand-painted on plywood advertising one of Onoway's prominent businesses in the 1940s was discovered. How did it get there? No one knows but what better home for it than the Onoway Museum!

                                      Raesler sign

Otto Raesler owned a garage in Onoway and later operated an insurance business. As a sideline, he showed movies at the Community Hall on Saturday nights
no TV in those days.


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Last updated: February 2, 2019