Alberta, Canada, is home to a plethora of unique and intriguing museums that offer visitors a chance to step back in time, explore different cultures, and even experience the quirky side of history. This blog post will take you on a journey through some of these hidden gems.
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum
First on our list is the World Famous Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington. This museum opened in 1996 and is unlike any other you've visited before. It features 77 stuffed gophers posed to resemble townspeople in 44 intricately designed dioramas. Imagine gophers donning schoolteacher attire, farming outfits, or even attending adorable gopher weddings.
The museum is constructed of two small buildings, a one-room, rural schoolhouse and one of the former grain elevator offices. The museum is a labour of love, with volunteers responsible for all aspects of its operation, maintenance, and tours. When you are done touring inside the museum, head out to see the 12-foot high gopher sculpture named Clem T Gofur and all the town’s fire hydrants that are painted like gophers.
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in Lamont County is a living testament to the early Ukrainian pioneers who settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930. The open-air museum is home to over 30 restored structures, including a burdei (sod house), a one-room school, a grain elevator, a blacksmith shop, and three Eastern Byzantine Rite churches.
The village's costumed role players bring history to life, providing visitors with an engaging and immersive experience. The village also hosts a variety of special events and exhibits. Authentic Ukrainian food is available, adding another layer to the immersive experience. With its rich history, unique features, and engaging events, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Ukrainian culture and history.
The Markerville Creamery Museum
This museum is a historic site located in Markerville. The museum is housed in the original historic building, built in 1902, and offers guided tours of commercial butter production set in 1932. The museum is a significant attraction in the town, which was originally established in 1888 by Icelandic settlers. It is set to display how a creamery would operate in the 1920s, providing visitors with a glimpse into the past.
The museum also has a Kaffistofa (coffee shop), which serves up ice cream, light lunches, and Icelandic specialties. The museum is a popular destination for families, couples, and history enthusiasts. Visitors appreciate the museum's warm and friendly staff, the well-written and instructive information stations, and the unique opportunity to explore a preserved piece of rural Alberta's history.
In addition to the museum, the town of Markerville is small and is made up mostly of Icelandic descendants. The town also boasts other provincially designated historic resources, including the Markerville Lutheran Church, built in 1907, and the Historic Fensala Hall, built in 1904.
The Sundre & District Museum
This museum is located in the historic Riverside District of Sundre and features a pioneer village, a World of Wildlife exhibit, and a gallery.
The pioneer village houses eight heritage buildings, providing visitors with a glimpse into the lives of early Sundre and area pioneers. The World of Wildlife exhibit is a “closed, permanent” exhibit (this means that nothing will be added to the display) that showcases over 170 animal mounts from around the world, including a life-sized replica elephant. This exhibit was donated to the museum in 2007 by Chester Mjolsness, a local hunter who had travelled extensively around the world.
The museum attracts a variety of visitors, including families, history enthusiasts, and wildlife lovers. It offers a unique experience that combines historical exploration with wildlife appreciation. The museum is known for its large floor-to-ceiling landscape mural by a local artist, and its "what is this" activity that tests visitors' knowledge of the displayed animals.
Alberta offers a wealth of fascinating museums that showcase the region's diverse history and culture. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or simply seeking a memorable experience, Alberta's museums have something for everyone. These hidden gems invite you to delve deeper into the area’s rich history, experience different cultures, and appreciate the quirky side of life. Each museum offers its unique charm and creates unforgettable memories. So why wait? Embark on a journey of exploration and discovery and add these incredible destinations to your Alberta bucket list today!
Nerissa McNaughton is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the 2023 Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.