Clayton McLain was a local farmer who had always been interested in prairie life and the history of the area. He was especially fascinated with First Nations’ culture and the events of 1885. When he realized only a few individuals from that era were left living, he was prompted to seek out and record their stories. He was also fortunate to collect many artifacts that related to this critical period in Canada’s history.
When the public also became interested in McLain’s growing collection of historical artifacts, he organized them for viewing on his farm. Occasionally, he would haul them around the region to attend different events. McLain took many photos to document his findings and, although he considered these activities a hobby, he also dreamed that one day he would have a real museum in which to display these items. Clayton McLain was diagnosed with cancer in 1967 and passed away in 1968 without seeing his dream become reality.
The value of Clayton McLain’s lifetime of collecting was undisputed. Upon his death, the local chapter of the Oddfellows approached his widow, Elizabeth. The organization offered to assist her with the establishment of a museum in Cut Knife. This would ensure the collection remained intact and stayed accessible to the public.