where the cut knife waters flow, book cover edited

The Gold Mine for Family Historians

An ever-increasing number of people are taking a deep-dive into their family histories: constructing their family trees and searching out the stories that give their ancestors’ lives context. Archives are the building blocks for these projects; they are the treasure troves containing the chests of gold.

The Family Tree is mapped out through the use of vital statistics. Birth records, death certificates, enlistment papers, ship’s manifests, baptism certificates, obituaries, etc. are used to identify an individual’s ancestors. Secondly, stories from newspapers, local and oral histories, archival records, etc. are used to place people within the context of their times. 

Clayton McLain Memorial Museum | Family Histories

Today, so much of the information necessary to fill-in-the-blanks of a family tree or to discover the context of a life once-lived is available online. Archives, large and small, are digitizing historical records, putting the files online, even providing forms to request copies of particular documents. For SK Archives Week 2015, the CMMM introduced three Genealogy Resource pages on our website, which were updated in late 2021, and combined to form the current Genealogy Links page.

Additional archival resources can be found at:

  • Saskatchewan Historical Newspapers Online (SHNO) project which includes the Cut Knife Journal and the Cut Knife Grinder. Some early copies have suffered damage, others have pages missing but they are always worth a look. (Click to view.)
  • Local Histories (i.e. Where the Cut Knife Waters Flow Volumes I and II) are difficult to come by. Most are out-of-print, although the odd one may occasionally pop up for sale but often, at quite a price. Some can be found at local museums and archives, and some, the lucky few, can be found in digital collections. For example, Time Marches On : a history of the Alfred, Formby, Wardenville and Wembley School Districts is available to read online at the University of Calgary’s Digital Collections Library. Finding a digital version of a local history relevant to your research is another gold mine.

Back in the day, a researcher would often have to travel to individual archives to access their materials. Now, a huge array of resources, from around the world, have a home online. Visit CMMM’s Genealogy Links to be amazed…

~ Debbie M.

2 thoughts on “The Gold Mine for Family Historians”

  1. you for posting, I was born in Cut Knife and grew up in the area. Being 81 years old I remember a lot of history myself. I remember the street behind the lumber yard there were teams of horses lined up for a block in the winter time, people gathered in town Saturday nights for shopping, picture shows, and course Louie’s cafe was a gathering place. I remember the old jute box where I used to put my little bit of change listening to Kitty Wells, still love her. Then there was Santa Clause day where we got a free bag of candy and a free picture show, that was a special day. I remember Dad putting the horses in the delivery barn and walking down the alley way looking at all the teams tied up. It was another place for visiting. Clarence Morrison was the manager and owner.


    1. Thanks for your reply, and thanks for sharing your memories. The last I heard, Santa Claus Day at the Elks Theatre is still going on, exactly as you’ve described it: a free matinee and a candy bag from Santa. So, how many years has that been a tradition, I wonder? – Debbie M.


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