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.

Wembly School

Research is a Treasure Hunt

It’s true. Researching online is not as satisfying as sitting in an archives, gloves on, examining primary source materials in person. The advantage, however, is that plugging in combinations of search terms on a search engine of choice, can be done at home, at a researcher’s convenience. The results vary, of course, depending on subject matter, etc. but as more collections are digitized and uploaded online, the rewards improve.

To date, the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum has three online exhibits:

  • Cut Knife Town Centre exhibit was highlighted in yesterday’s post. (Click to view.)
  • Attons LakeA Summer Meeting Place was developed as a Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) Community Memories Project. The slideshow consists of 216 photos with accompanying text, and an additional 2 dozen stories. (Click to view.)
  • Cut Knife and Districts School Sites & Points of Interest is presented as a pdf document. The information was compiled in time for the 2012 Town of Cut Knife Anniversary and is complete with school districts noted and GPS coordinates provided. Perfect for a Sunday drive. (Click to view.)

All of the online exhibits and projects mentioned over the past few days rely on archival research which, in the case of a volunteer-run museum and archives, is dependent upon – yes – volunteers. Specialized knowledge is not required. Often, the search is for something quite specific, and it can be fun. It’s almost like looking for buried treasure with so many interesting tidbits discovered along the way.

We haven’t identified our next project yet, but if you’d like to be a part of a research team, it only takes a word with Lucille or a Board member, or an email to cmmmcutknife@gmail.com. We look forward to working with you!

~ Debbie M.

113 broad street in 1914

Throwback Thursday to 2012

2012 was the year the Town of Cut Knife turned 100 years old. The anniversary was celebrated on Canada Day long weekend with a full slate of community events. The planning and preparations had been ongoing for many months and the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum and Archives had been involved with a number of them.

cut knife centennial mural
Located on the south side of Country Lanes, 201 Broad Street

The mural to commemorate the founding of the town was based upon a selection of archival photos that represented key events and people in the town’s development. The Cut Knife Town Centre exhibit was completed with a committee of volunteers who researched the successive ownership of downtown business lots. Their findings were displayed on outdoor signage adjacent to the lots during the summer of 2012. For SK Archives Week 2015, the Cut Knife Town Centre exhibit was digitized for the CMMM website.

¬ Debbie M.

prairie winter view

Tuesday is for Trails

Archival materials at the Clayton McLain Memorial Museum Archives range in time and type. Items include recorded interviews about the events of 1885, and books and histories from the settler era. Copies of local newspapers from 1914 – to the present are on hand, and the near past is represented with the art, photos and papers of local businesses, schools, and organizations.

Clayton McLain Memorial Museum | The Archives


manitou lake battleford trail by lloyd how
Author Lloyd How

About 10 years ago, the CMMM Archives acquired Lloyd How’s Manitou Lake Battleford Trail. This is a mapping project of an ancient trail that once crossed the land Lloyd and his wife, Noreen, lived on. The trail was used by River Cree travelling from the Eagle Hills, where the Battle River joins the North Saskatchewan River, westward to Manitou Lake, and onward into Alberta. The explorer Anthony Henday used the trail in 1745 during his travels through the western plains.

Lloyd researched written accounts, consulted with local Cree elder, Wally Simaganis and others who remembered the trail, and carried out on-the-ground exploration and mapping. For more details on the trail and Lloyd’s interest in it, read Lucille’s description here.


Are you wondering who would ever use the information that Lloyd Howe has so patiently investigated and recorded? The possibilities are probably endless, but the first one that comes to mind, for me. is Hugh Henry, the President of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society (SHFS) Since 2015, Hugh Henry and the SHFS have organized and led Historic Trail Walks covering portions of the old trails that once crisscrossed Saskatchewan. To date, groups have walked Fort Walsh to Wood Mountain, Swift Current to Fort Battleford, Humboldt to Fort Carlton, and Fort Ellice To Fort Qu’Appelle.

This year, the plan is to walk from Fort Battleford to Fort Pitt, although whether the route will follow the trail north of the river, or the one on the southside of the North Saskatchewan, has yet to be determined. Each trail walk traces, as closely as possible, the historic trail that connected communities. The public is invited to walk for a day, or to walk the complete trail section. For more details, click the link below.

Perhaps, one day, the SHFS itinerary will read “Manitou Lake Battleford Trail”, the route based upon Lloyd How’s original research.

Click to view the poster for Historic Trail Walk 2023.

~ Debbie M.

ww1 battlefield

In Memory of Private Robinson

The CMMM Archives received a request for information from the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in Belgium. Their researchers have been able to identify the wartime burial locations of more than 1,400 of the 6,928 missing Canadians in Flanders. One of the burial sites located has been identified as belonging to Ernest Robinson, who homesteaded in the Cut Knife area. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour in our local history book Where the Cut Knife Waters Flow Volume I.

From the letter mailed to the CMMM from the Passchendaele Museum:

More than a century ago, a fateful letter was sent to Mrs. Mary Robinson (M), who lived or worked at Tatsfield, SK. It was the postal address of the next of kin of Ernest Robinson, a Canadian soldier who fell in Flanders during the First World War.

Ernest Robinson was born in Greater Manchester, Ashton-under-Lyne, England. Before he enlisted, he worked as a Homestead Farmer. Ernest was killed on 5/26/1915 and buried near Roeselare Kriegslazarett 123, Roeselare… Ernest Robinson is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium…

Unfortunately we were unable to trace Tatsfield, SK to a modern address. This is the reason why we are contacting you, in the hope you can help us…

Perhaps, you’re familiar with the story of Ernest. Do you have unique letters, pictures or stories related to him, his family or the house they lived or worked in? Or if you would simply like to share your thoughts, we kindly invite you to post them on the website. You will be helping to build a platform for surviving relatives, interested individuals, researchers and museums.

Help us to remember the missing and preserve their stories for the future.

Joachim Jonckheere President, Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Private Ernest Robinson’s death has been recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves website. It tells us that his parents were Robert and Mary Armitage Robinson of Tatsfield, SK. Are there any recollections from the Cut Knife community of where the Robinson family may have moved? The Passchendaele Museum would like the family’s descendants to know his burial site has been determined. Private Ernest Robinson is one fallen soldier of more than 6,900 Canadian soldiers who are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.

Or, perhaps: “Do you have unique letters, pictures or stories related to him, his family or the house they lived or worked in? Or if you would simply like to share your thoughts, we kindly invite you to post them on the website.

Information gathered from the community in the replies below and on the museum’s Facebook page will be compiled and forwarded. Thank you.

~ Debbie M.

Passchendaele Museum, Belgium