Our History

Wetaskiwin’s Oldest Museum

In the early 1980s, a group of Wetaskiwin volunteers received an edict from city council to form a museum society for the purpose of preserving Wetaskiwin’s history. The Wetaskiwin and District Museum Society, which was officially incorporated as a non-profit society on  the 20th of May 1986, has been collecting and preserving the history of the City and County of Wetaskiwin, as well as the neighbouring Maskwacis Cree Nations  ever since. On June 3rd, 1986 The Wetasiwin & District Museum officially opened its doors to the public. This first museum was located in the old Calgary Power Waterworks Building at 5010 – 53rd Avenue.

The Original Museum in the Calgary Power Waterworks Building

In 2004, having outgrown the Waterworks Building, the Wetaskiwin and District Museum Society purchased the three-floor, one-hundred-year-old Montgomery Department Store building. The main floor of the new museum opened in November 2004. The entire building, home to a collection of more than 19,000 artefacts, officially opened its doors on May 7th, 2005, and now welcomes thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.

Our Historic Building: The Star Store and Montgomery’s

In 1903, John West built a two story brick building west of the site of his old store, The Pioneer Store. The Star Trading Co. General Store opened in November, operated by E.D. McLaughlin, W.W. Sharpe, & R.B. Price. It became better known as the Star Store, as it had a giant white star painted on its side to attract customers. The Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum has a replica star repainted on the side of its building, commemorating the star first used on the Star Trading Co.

The Star Store c.1903

 

 

 

 

Montgomery's Department Store, c.1970

 

 

Over the years, the building’s purpose did not change. It continued to serve the community as a department store called Montgomery’s. To this day museum visitors come in and reminisce about the many purchases and memories they made in this historic building. We at the Heritage Museum are proud to continue to serve the community, as this building has always done.

The Heritage Museum today (2014) with the white star

For more about the history of the Star Store and Montgomery’s, see this great article published by the Wetaskiwin Times.

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