Melvin Sawatzky, Award Recipient

– content of post kindly shared from the Rivers West District Nomination form submitted by Bonnie S.

mel sawatsky receiving overall volunteer award of the year
Mayor Gwenn Kaye (left) presenting Mel Sawatzky (right) with the Over-All Volunteer of the Year Award

In 1971, Mel became the first Chairman of the newly created Clayton McLain Memorial Museum. For several years prior to this Mel, in his capacity as Noble Grand of the local Oddfellows Chapter, actively sought to assist Elizabeth McLain in establishing a Museum which would house artifacts of great historical significance to Canada, associated with the settlement of the northwest and the events surrounding the 1885 rebellion.

Mel’s record of achievements include:

  • 24 years as a Volunteer Firefighter;
  • 20+ years involvement with the Cut Knife Colts hockey team in a variety of roles;
  • 8 years service as a Councilor, Town of Cut Knife;
  • Decades of involvement with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, including the Hunter Safety Education program;
  • Coordination of the 2005 RCMP Musical Ride in the Town of Cut Knife;
  • Noble Grand of the local Oddfellows Lodge in the late 1960’s; and
  • More than five decades of continuous service including service on the Board of Trustees, Clayton McLain Memorial Museum. Melvin Sawatzky holds the distinction of Life Member of the Board of Trustees of Clayton McLain Memorial Museum.

“Spanning over five decades, Mel Sawatzky has had a long and distinguished record of service to the community and district of Cut Knife Saskatchewan… Mel’s service to Cut Knife has taken many forms. He has always been willing to help anyone who asks for assistance, and has shared his woodworking and maintenance skills freely.”

Congratulations to Mel Sawatzky, lifetime member of the CMMM Board of Trustees, on receiving the Rivers West District Volunteer Recognition Award for Over-All Volunteer of the Year!

2019 reconciliation celebration
Our Stories

2020 MAS Award of Merit

Recipients of the 2020 Museums Association of Saskatchewan Award of Merit for ‘Institution projects over $50,000’ were Clayton McClain Memorial Museum, Little Pine First Nation & Lucky Man Cree Nation for Moving Forward with Reconciliation.

award of merit for cmmm, little pine first nation, lucky man cree nation for moving forward with reconciliation project
Moving Forward with Reconciliation event, 2020

~ from the Nomination:

“The Clayton McLain Memorial Museum is a small-town museum located in Cut Knife Saskatchewan. The Museum is located on Treaty 6 Territory and has a rich history of partnership with surrounding Indigenous communities.

The summer of 2019 was a very busy summer for the Clayton McClain Museum. Thanks to a generous grant from the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund the museum was able to partner with Little Pine First Nation and Lucky Man Cree Nation on a three-part project called “Moving Forward with Reconciliation” that was initiated by Chief Wayne Semagnuis and councilor Richard Checkiosis of Little Pine First Nation.     

The first event was held on July 2, 2019 in Fort Walsh SK to recognize 140 years since Chief Minahequosis (Little Pine) and Chief Papaway (Lucky Man) were coerced into signing an adhesion to Treaty 6 because their people were suffering from forced starvation. This memorial event and was attended by over 550 people. It connected the attending members of Little Pine First Nation and Lucky Man Cree Nation to their ancestors and traditional territories by offering a feast and a mini pow wow in their honour. Jimmy O’Chiese of the Yellowhead Tribal College in Edmonton Alberta spoke and told the Cree Creation Story and how it is intimately linked to the Cypress Hills, as well as introducing the concept of land-based education for those in attendance.

The second part of the celebration took place in Cut Knife on July 5, 2019 and was attended by over 350 people. This event connected the local Indigenous people to the sacred artifacts that are held in trust in the collection of the Clayton McClain Memorial Museum. These items are normally kept separate from the rest of the collection in a secure area and are cared for by Elders through ceremony and protocol, but were brought out to be displayed for the day after the blessings and a smudging ceremony. This event also included a traditional feast and a much larger mini pow wow with dancers from Little Pine, Lucky Man, Sweetgrass and Saddle Lake. The feast and pow wow were used to honour the sacred items and the ancestors who used them in ceremonies. Another important part of the purpose of having the event in Cut Knife was also to educate people about the events that occurred 140 years ago.        

The third part of the event took place on September 9, 2019 at Fort Pitt and was attended by approximately 150 people. This conclusion to the celebrations connected the Indigenous people in attendance to Treaty 6 territory and the lands they ultimately came to reside upon.

This three-part celebration heralded many firsts for many of the people involved. Overall, it was an event that should be remembered as a step towards ongoing reconciliation – a journey where there is still much more work to be done.”

McLain Family

Ruby Sleath, 1915 – 2020

Ruby Mae McLain Sleath

Our museum is mourning the loss this week of a stalwart supporter, Ruby McLain Sleath.

Ruby supported her brother, Clayton McLain and subsequently her sister-in-law, Elizabeth McLain, who worked with the many volunteers to establish the museum. This was a labour of love as it was Clayton’s Dream.

It began with Clayton’s Collection of artifacts and stories and many McLain family items, which are still to this day on display at the museum. The stories are treasured, and our staff of volunteers love to share them with our visitors.

Ruby’s signature was often the first name and then the last name on the museum’s register each year. She would be pushed over to the museum in her wheelchair to see what was new, to bring visitors to see her family’s legacy to the community or to drop off a monetary donation.

This happened even after she was over 100 years young.

Ruby was a history resource that we used frequently to identify someone in a picture or to check on details of the past history in the area. Ruby was also an ambassador for the museum and community. She loved welcoming new people and sharing her stories and listening to theirs.

How lucky we were to have her clear mind and memory for so many years.

Rest In Peace, dear Ruby.

There will be a service for family only due to current social distancing laws so we will be streaming the service at the following link. Service is Oct 2 at 1pm.

Link to Service for Ruby Sleath

~ Lucille B.


AGM 2020: New Date


This will be a Zoom meeting, as per Covid-19 requirements.

Please try your best to attend this meeting to ensure we have quorum so we can move forward with the bylaw amendments. They can be viewed on our blog, on our Facebook page, and on the door of the Museum Admin and Archive Centre (MAAC 201 Railway Avenue).

To join the meeting, please click on the link below or phone 1-647-374-4685 and enter meeting ID number 865 9683 9914.

AGM 2020 Zoom Link