Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Feast Day for Saint Albert of Louvain

Albert Lacombe, OMI, early 1900s.

November 21 is the feast day for St. Albert of Louvain, the patron saint of Father Albert Lacombe, OMI. Lacombe began the mission of St. Albert in 1861 and the City of St. Albert is named after Lacombe’s patron saint.

Who was Albert of Louvain?

Albert of Louvain was born ca. 1166 in Brabant which is in modern day Belgium.  At the age of 12, he was appointed canon of the city of Liege in Belgium.  By the age of 21, he became a knight but later wanted to return to a religious vocation so became canon of Liege again. He was named Bishop of Liege in 1191; however, Albert of Lethel, who had connections with Emperor Henry VI, wanted the episcopacy.  Albert of Louvain asked the pope of Rome for help and he was granted the appointment. Archbishop of Rheims ordained Albert of Louvain bishop but Emperor Henry VI had him murdered. 

St. Albert’s relics and St. Albert, NWT

In 1878, Bishop Vital Grandin was the bishop of the See of St. Albert mission in Northwest Territories (today’s Alberta).  He was given a letter from the Archbishop of Malines to take a holy relic from St. Albert of Louvain to Canada.  Bishop Grandin successfully brought to Canada what was believed to be a bone of St. Albert of Louvain; however, the relic he brought back did not belong to St. Albert of Louvain as was discovered years later. 

In 1919, the cathedral of Rheims was being cleared of debris after a German bombardment.  A tomb was opened which was believed to be that of Odalric, a 10th century archbishop.  After medical and archeological examinations, it was discovered that the body was actually St. Albert of Louvain. Odalric’s body was buried where St. Albert was believed to be buried and St. Albert’s body was buried where Odalric’s was thought to have been. Thus, the relic brought back to Canada in 1878 was not that from St. Albert’s body.

Information for this blog post comes from:
Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton Archives
Hebert J. Thurston, SJ & Donald Attwater, eds. Butler's Lives of the Saints. Complete Edition. London: Burns & Oates, 1956.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Upcoming Exhibit, Take Your Best Shot

The Wonders of Nature - Photographer Lillianne, age 14
The curator at the Musée Héritage Museum is preparing for our next exhibit, Take Your Best Shot. The exhibit will show the photographs submitted for our youth photo contest and will open on November 22, 2011. The theme of this exhibit is favorite places in St. Albert and all the photographs were taken by youth photographers.

The winners from the contest are:

Age group 8-12:
1st place – Alec age 8 – Trestle bridge
2nd place – Maya age 9 – St. Peter Lutheran
3rd place – Isabella age 12 – River Valley

Age group 13-15:
1st place – Evan age 13- Fireworks
2nd place – Carter age 14 – École Sir George Simpson
3rd place – Nicholas age 13 – Mission: Fun and Games

Age group 16-18:
1st place – Domonique age 16 – Candy Store
2nd place – Shelby age 17 – Farmer's Market

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Archives Week!

The province of Alberta is celebrating Archives Week this week until October 8.  Various events are occurring at archives across the province which are listed here:

The Musée Héritage Museum is participating by having the archivist in the lobby of St. Albert Place this Saturday, the last day of the St. Albert's Farmers' Market. We invite you to visit us to learn about what projects we are working on and/or to ask any questions you may have about our services or about St. Albert's history.  You will also have the opportunity to purchase a 2012 Archives Calendar with images from many of Alberta's archives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Photo Contest - Take Your Best Shot

We are having a photography contest for youth and the winners will have their photographs exhibited at the Musée Héritage Museum gallery.  The exhibit will be called Take Your Best Shot and will run from November 22, 2011 - January 29, 2012.  The images will be about St. Albert and exhibited at size 16”x20”.

How to Enter 
Send a photo of your favorite place in St. Albert - homes, parks, streets, arenas, stores, heritage buildings, schools ... anything goes.
We also want you to tell us, in one paragraph, why it is your favorite place.
A jury will choose 10 photos from each age group and the top three photographs in each category will receive a prize. The prizes are gift cards to McBain camera; first prize $200, second prize $150 and third prize $100.

Age groups:

Deadline: September 30, 2011
Send submissions to:
1) Name
2) Age
3) Telephone number
4) Paragraph about the photograph 
5) Photograph in .jpeg or .tiff file (make sure your file is no less than 3MB so that we can print a good copy

We look forward to seeing your photographs and good luck!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Walking Tours in St. Albert

The Bells

An interpreter led walk through St. Albert on a warm summer evening is the perfect way to discover the community, get some exercise and meet new people.  This past Thursday (August 11, 2011) our interpreter, Roy Toomey, led a group of 23 on a walk-ing tour of Mission Hill.  A great group of people and perfect summer weather made the evening a big success!        
 Interest in the history of St. Albert has been is growing and this season we are seeing a lot of new visitors, partly because it is the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the St. Albert Mission.  

Father Lacombe Statue

On this particular evening we did not have time to go into downtown St. Albert, but the group visited the historical sites atop Mission Hill which include the Father Lacombe Chapel and Statue; the church bells of St. Albert (named Vitaline, Caroline, and Alexandrine); the crypt behind the Catholic Church where Fathers Lacombe and Leduc are buried on either side of the Blessed Bishop Grandin; the grotto, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes; and finally the St. Albert Roman Catholic Cemetery, in which many important historical figures are buried. 

Tour participants, most of whom were local residents who had never been to the site, really enjoyed themselves.  Several people commented saying that they enjoyed the tour information and stories as well as the peaceful setting on Mission Hill (except for the mosquitos).  We hope our next tour will see another great turn out!  Come and join us, we look forward to showing you around!

Upcoming walking tour dates and times:
Saturday August 20, 2011 at 3pm - meet at the Musée Héritage Museum in St. Albert      

Thursday August 25, 2011 at 7:30pm - meet at the Father Lacombe Chapel on Mission Hill
A view of St. Albert from Mission Hill

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July 24, 2011 in St. Albert

Sunday July 24, 2011 was a busy day in St. Albert as Founder's Walk officially 
opened and the Father Lacombe Chapel hosted "A Taste of the Past".  

The weather was perfect and many people walked up and down Seven Hills along the newly paved paths, stopping to read the historic panels along the way.


"A Taste of the Past" gives visitors the opportunity to taste things people would make and eat long ago.  This year the menu included bishop's pudding, apple scones, bannock, fried blueberries, pemmican, homemade cinnamon ice cream, raspberry butter, lemonade and spruce needle tea.

Tasting bishop's pudding while waiting for the ice cream to be ready.
Thanks to the Edmonton Weavers' Guild we had spinning and weaving demonstrations.

Everyone had the opportunity to watch or try using a spinning wheel at the event. 

The event included tours of Mission Hill.  Above one of our costumed interpreters talks about the chapel before taking visitors to the crypt, grotto and cemetery.


  On July 23, 2011 we had the privilege of hosting local family members, as well as visiting family from outside the province, at the historic sites in St. Albert.  Many of the family members had travelled to be part of the family reunion weekend event.  There was a visit to Mission Hill and the Father Lacombe Chapel and a special presentation by the Heritage Sites Manager who spoke about the family home the Arts and Heritage Foundation is planning to restore.

 Fortunately the weather co-operated and everyone had the opportunity to see the building, inside and out!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

St. Albert Grain Elevator Park's Dominion Day and Father Lacombe Chapel's Oh Canada!

Silver Grain Elevator, 1990
Photograph courtesy of Musée Héritage Museum, St. Albert Historical Society fonds

Tomorrow will be the first day that visitors can step into the silver grain elevator in over a year.  Both the grain elevators have been undergoing restoration since the spring of 2010. Although the silver elevator opens tomorrow, the grand opening of both elevators will occur in the fall.  The Musée Héritage Museum invites everyone to the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park for Dominion Day to see the restoration, have a tour of the park, enjoy some snacks and participate in various activities for children.

Location: 4 Meadowview Drive, St. Albert
Time: 12-5
Phone: 780-419-7354


The Father Lacombe Chapel, Alberta's oldest surviving building, is having an event tomorrow for Canada Day entitled, Oh Canada!  The interpreters will be providing hourly tours of mission hill, as well as providing a scavenger hunt, activities for children and ice cream.

Location: St. Vital Ave, St. Albert
Time: 12-4
Phone: 780-459-7663

Mission Hill, 1948
Photograph courtesy of Musée Héritage Museum, St. Albert Historical Society fonds
Happy Canada Day and we hope to see you at our events!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Mission Makers Opening Tomorrow

The curator has been working hard preparing an exhibit which will open tomorrow.  The exhibit is entitled The Mission Makers and features Albert Lacombe, OMI and Alexandre Taché, OMI, two oblates who began the mission in St. Albert.  We've included in this blog post some photos of the exhibit set-up.  The exhibit opens Saturday June 11 and will be up until November 2011.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy International Archives Day!

The archives at the Musée Héritage Museum would like to highlight one of its projects in honour of International Archives Day.  The archives has recently begun processing photographs donated from the St. Albert Historical Society.  This photograph collection consists of over 1000 photographs ranging from the 1880s to 1970s.  With the help of the Archives Society of Alberta (ASA), these images will be available to the public online in the early fall via the ASA database:

Here is a sneak peak of some of the photographs in the collection...

Main Street, 1911 -1921

Bishop Vital Grandin, ca. 1880 - 1890
Beer Room, Bruin Inn, 1930

St. Albert Store interior, 1930

A. Labelle Meat Market, 1930

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Articulture in St. Albert

Partnership between Musée Héritage Museum and Michif Cultural and Resource Institute:

We were excited to partner with Michif Cultural and Resource Institute for Articulture. On April 9, a number of people came out to learn beadwork at the Musée.  In keeping with the early Métis heritage of St. Albert we would like to offer more workshops on beadwork within St. Albert.

MJ instructing the class


At the Musée Héritage Museum we offered a small beading project inspired by our Métis Bead Work exhibit.  For a small fee participants learned to bead a small Wild Rose brooch.  This workshop will be offered again.

At 10 Meadowview lane (the oblate house) the Michif Institute will offer traditional Rattle Making.  For a small fee participants would learn how the ancient ones made rattles for ceremony and for their babies.
Pattern for Fire Bag

These two courses would be run simultaneously for afternoon programming. The date is TBA.

There should be an age limit with these teachings; the participant should be 10 years of age and over.

Submitted by Sharon Morin
Lead Aboriginal Programmer

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Musée Héritage Museum Seeking Anyone with Memory of Local Eastern European Families

As part of a new historical research project, Musée Héritage Museum is looking for residents familiar with several Polish, Russian and Ukrainian families from St. Albert and area to help with the preservation of an important aspect of St. Albert’s history.
The Musée’s latest project is researching the history of the Polish, Ukrainian and Russian communities of St. Albert. Throughout the 1900s people from these countries settled in St. Albert and area and helped enrich the community. Polish Oblate Fathers brought in by Bishop Vital Grandin helped develop the community in the 1890s and 1910s, and people like Marie Wolniewicz (who taught at the Brick School for 40 years), the Hauptman’s (who ran the popular Bruin Inn and Sweetheart Jewellers), and Mary Sernowski, who worked at the St. Albert and Edmonton markets for 40 years, have all helped enrich the social, cultural and economic life of St. Albert.
Eventually a written history, a new educational program and online exhibit will be produced that will document these important families. These will help bring attention to an important part of St. Albert’s history that has only recently been examined in detail.
We are looking for as much information as possible about the following pioneering families:  Banack (Banach), Bondarevich, Douziech, Hauptman, Klak, Luszczewski, Martyna, Meleshko, Muszczynski, Poloway, Popow, Pudlowski, Romanko, Sernowski, Skrobot, Soloduk, Wachowicz, Wolniewicz, and Zyha.
If you, or anyone you know, grew up in or around St. Albert and is either related to or has information about these families and their history, we are interested in speaking to you.  The stories you relate to us are important to how we write and portray the unique history of these families and St. Albert itself. In order to present the most complete story possible, a continual search is also underway for any photographs, documents, or artifacts related to these families and their farms, gardens and businesses, from any year or decade. 

If you would like to help enrich and preserve the history of St. Albert and area, and ensure that this important history will be preserved for future generations of St. Albert residents, students, and scholars, please contact the Museum at the following address:

Ann Ramsden or Rene Georgopalis:                       
Musée Héritage Museum                                             
5 St. Anne Street T8N 3Z9                                         
(780) 459-1528

Or contact the historical researcher directly:
Michal Mlynarz: (780) 907-6126  

Anna Chevigny and her daughter Marie Wolniewicz, 1930s.
Photograph courtesy Musée Héritage Museum, St. Albert Historical Society fonds.

Marie Wolniewicz was born in Poland in 1900, and moved to St. Albert by 1907. For four decades she worked in the St. Albert school system, teaching generations of children from the community.

Mary Sernowski and her son Victor, early 1900s.
Photograph courtesy of Musée Héritage Museum, St. Albert Historical Society fonds.

Mary Sernowski was born in Ukraine in 1907 and arrived in Canada in 1928. From 1934 until she passed away at the age of 90, she delivered her garden produce to city markets in St. Albert and Edmonton.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring-Cleaning and Donations

Spring is here, and many of us begin our spring-cleaning at this time of year.  Spring-cleaning as well as moving are times when the Musée receives donations.  So we thought to discuss donations.

If you decide to give us something you feel is valuable for the Musée, please come talk to us.  Joanne, the curator, can give you information about artifacts – so things like clothing, house wares, jewellery, tools and equipment, statuettes, etc.  Rene, the archivist, can help you with any recorded information you have – things like old photographs, scrapbooks, ledgers, letters, electronic files, etc.  But please talk to us.  We have had people abandon things at the front door of the museum or at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park.  When things are abandoned, we really do not know what to do with them.  An important part of building our collection depends on the stories that come with the artifacts and archives.

We have an example of someone abandoning objects at the Musée.  One morning in August 2006, museum staff found a box of African artifacts left at the door of the museum.  Here are photographs of a few of the items…

We have no idea what the history of these items are, where they came from, the value of the objects or who dropped them off. We tried to get information on the objects by putting advertisements out in the newspapers.  Attempts were made to donate the items to other museums whose collecting mandate could include African objects.  Without any information about the abandoned items, no institutions wanted them.  So, nearly four years later, the pieces sit at the museum and we are unable to do anything with them.  And, the artifacts are not suited to our collecting mandate, unless they are somehow linked to St. Albert’s story – we just don’t know!

How does the Musée decide whether or not we add a donation to our collection?

When you come to donate items to the Musée, we will gather information from you to help us decide whether or not your items fit our collection policy.  We collect items that pertain to St. Albert and region.  Various other factors are considered as well.  Some questions include… Is the donation unique? Do we already have this item in our collections? Do we have the resources to care of the donation? In what physical state is the donation? Are there any restrictions on the donation making it impossible for the public to use?

After you meet with us, a committee meets and makes the decision on whether or not to add the donation to the collections. If we feel the donation is better suited for another institution, we will help the donor make that connection. When items are accepted we send the donor a letter to let them know that the donation has been added to the collections.

What happens to a donation after it is accepted?

Once the committee decides to accept a donation, we catalog information about the object and/or archival materials.  We then take necessary measures to ensure that the new addition to the collection will last for as long as possible – we slow down any deterioration by preserving items to the best of our ability.  Once the information is cataloged, we can make the new addition to the collections available for public use. Yes, the public can see what is in our collections, just ask us!

So, while you are spring-cleaning and thinking about donating to a museum and/or archives, keep us in mind - we would love to see and learn the stories of your treasures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Night at the Museum, 2011

On Saturday, March 19, 2011 the Musée Héritage Museum hosted a special event and a number of historic and contemporary, well known Canadians dropped in! Historic guests included Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Louis Riel, Anne Murray, Dr. Ruth Nakai and Queen Elizabeth II!

Actually Grade 5 and Grade 6 students from Leo Nickerson Elementary School, in St. Albert, came in to display their History Fair projects.  The theme this year was “Night at the Museum” and each student took on the persona of a historic figure. By dressing up and delivering a first person monologue each child shared, in a very unique way, what they had learned about their chosen subject.

All you had to do was press the big red button on their hands and the character would come to life!  Really great idea and lots of fun for the students and visitors!  Thank you Andrea and Leo Nickerson students for your presentations—they were awesome!!

Check out the pictures!

Lois Hole (Julianna)

Star Trek's "Scotty" - James Doohan (Claire)

Les Rogers (Gracie) - The Canadian Curling Skip 
Winning the Canadian Senior Curling Championship in 2005

One of the Famous Five - Nellie McClung (Sabrina)

Billy Bishop (Kade) - Canadian WWI flying ace

Ann of Green Gables (Tayden)
Speaking about her author Lucy Maud Montgomery

Louis Riel (Ian)

Two more of the Famous Five...
Emily Murphy (Celina)

Nellie McClung (Kristyn)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

St. Albert Historical Society AGM and Film Screening

On March 3, 2011, the St. Albert Historical Society held their AGM at the Musée Héritage Museum.  Following the meeting, the film, A Living History of Métis Families as told by Dorothy Chartrand, was shown.  This film was produced and directed by Judy Iseke and told the story of Dorothy Chartrand’s family and life.  Dorothy Chartrand (née Bellerose) is a Métis woman who is a member of the St. Albert community.  She did research into her family history and told stories of her family’s experiences in the community from the 1800s to today. 

The film was well attended and featured various archival records as well as Dorothy Chartrand’s personal family photographs.  The film outlined the challenges that Chartrand came across while conducting genealogical research in addition to highlighting the history of St. Albert as experienced by a Métis family. Judy Iseke has done a remarkable job of capturing stories from St. Albert’s past.  She shared with those who attended the screening her experiences of producing the film and the personality of Dorothy Chartrand.  The website for the film is

 Here are some images from the film screening...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

St. Albert History Gallery Now Open

The Musée had a successful opening reception for the new exhibit on February 9 with about 100 guests. The gallery is now open to the general public, so be sure to come visit. This post has images of the completed gallery and of the opening reception.  We hope to see you soon.


Alan Murdock, the chair of the Arts and Heritage Foundation Board, introduces the exhibit.
Guests view the displays at the opening reception.