Museum, Notes

Ovenstown Captured

A beautiful capture of Ovenstown in the spring of 2020, especially poignant since it was demolished that fall. Aleksi Anseth grew up in Cut Knife and continues to live in the area. Take a look at her Facebook page (link below) for more wonderful examples of her talent.

This building has served many uses throughout its life, functioning as a church, one-room school, and eventually, a museum. I’ve spent a couple of my summers working at the museum, and got pretty cozy with Ovenstown specifically, as it was the museum office when I worked (that honour now belongs to the Duvall House!), so I’ve spent many hours in and around the building. Even with those hours logged with it, I still find the front of the building really visually striking. It has a presence that commands attention. Speaking purely on exterior design, Ovenstown is probably my favourite building at the museum! Acrylic on 11X14″ Canvas board

Aleksi Ann | Facebook May 7, 2020
By Aleksi Anseth


Royal Purple Donation

In June, the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum was one of five local organizations that received a $1000 donation from the Cut Knife Royal Purple. The museum is thankful for their recognition of our role in the community and very grateful for their support.

The other recipient organizations were the Cut Knife Municipal Library, the Cut Knife & District Recreation Board, Cut Knife Country Lanes, and the Cut Knife Senior Citizen Recreation Centre. All five organizations have been recognized as vital to the community.

Twila Loranger presented the cheques at the Innovation Credit Union on Broad Street.

president of cmmm receiving royal purple donation
Twila Loranger, Royal Purple, presenting Colton Stapley, President of the CMMM (and son) with cheque.

“The Cut Knife Royal Purple is a fun-loving, dynamic, dedicated, group of volunteers. We are proud to work towards helping children and our community.”

chief poundmaker grave
Our Stories

Different Cultures, Prairie Neighbours

Cultures, political systems, religious persuasions and individual personalities have influenced the degree of peace that existed, here, between neighbours. Our museum would like to understand these events so that we may learn from the mistakes, celebrate the successes and promote understanding and acceptance. Just north of the Cut Knife town site, two historic battles took place:


This battle was fought at the highest hill in the area, in the 1840s, between the Cree and the Tsuut’ina (formerly known as the Sarcee) from the Blackfoot Confederacy. The invading Tsuut’ina chief, Broken Knife (later loosely translated to Cut Knife), was defeated. But, the Cree had greatly appreciated his fighting ability and so named the hill after him to honour his skill. One of the Sarcee warriors escaped and returned to his home to tell the story.

chief poundmaker grave
Chief Poundmaker Historic Site

When the town forefathers were looking to name the settlement, they decided to use the name of the hill as it was a significant landmark to the north.

In 2016, a monument was erected on Broken Knife’s Lookout to commemorate the event and to relate the story from both the Cree and the Tsuut’ina perspective. Broken Knife’s Lookout – Nation to Nation Reconciliation


The 1885 Battle at Cut Knife Creek was one of a series of violent outbreaks which came to be known as the Northwest Resistance. Federal troops, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Otter, marched west from Fort Battleford to attack Pîhtokahanapiwiyin’s (Chief Poundmaker’s) camp at Cut Knife Creek. The militia was defeated by the Cree’s guerrilla tactics under the leadership of war chief Fine Day. The troops withdrew and were only saved from slaughter due to the intervention of Pîhtokahanapiwiyin.

This was the last defeat of government forces in the 1885 Resistance.

Shifting Riel-ity: The 1885 North-West Rebellion: Was it a bang-up job or a bungle? A fresh look at the response to the 1885 North-West Rebellion.

2010 Re-enactment of the Battle of Cut Knife Creek


In the early 1900s, life on the prairies was harsh for all who lived here.

European settlers often came to their homesteads with very little material goods. Neighbours would band together to help one another with large projects, to socialize with each other to make life less lonely, and to work together to establish a community. Immigrants came from all across Europe, the United States and eastern Canada and many chose to settle near people of their own culture, such as the Italians who put down roots in the Baldwinton area.

The Cree, trying to adapt to reserve life in the post-1885 years, were also having a very difficult time. Restrictions placed upon reserve residents were harsh. Travel off the reserves and between the reserves was controlled by a government representative. Ensuring that everyone had enough to eat was a constant struggle. But, in this community, as well, neighbours helped one another, socialized together, and worked together to build their community.

Cultural differences, language barriers and government rules were felt by everyone living in the Cut Knife area.

armstrong building

Work Bee

On Saturday, August 21, Board members and Museum staff cleaned out the Firehall and a good portion of the Armstrong building – a job long overdue.

Anything that could be re-used or re-purposed at the museum was returned to the buildings for future use. Truck loads of old and damaged items went to the Cut Knife Transfer Station along with any recyclables. There was even a trunk full of old paint cans for Sarcan.

At the end of the day, items that still had life left in them were lined up beside the Firehall. The word went out on social media that ‘free stuff’ was here for the taking. Before we knew it, the ancient auditorium chairs and strings of Christmas lights, the scrap wood and garden hoses, extension cords and lighting fixtures, had found new homes.

~ Debbie M.