Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre
Our Story Why We Exist
Several years ago, we were settled in the heart of Canmore coasting along with a ten-year-old exhibit, but then we had our own version of Noah's flood! However, we have now risen from the waters and can proclaim we have a new exhibit and renewed vigour. We raised $200,000 and in March 2016 we opened a new exhibit to tell the story of how our community became stronger and more connected.
This new exhibit tells the stories of our mountains and communities with a series of vignettes. It starts with the geological setting of the region and moves through stories about native people, the coming of the European explorers, the railway, coalmining, quarrying, the 1988 winter Olympics and the development of the Canmore community through to recent times.
We EXIST to tell stories. That's what we do! Our mission is to:
"Tell the stories of our mountains and our communities to you."
Our purpose is to be an authoritative resource centre in the Canmore area for the preservation and exhibition of the historical and geo-scientific heritage of the Bow Valley. We’ve been in continuous operation since our '84 incorporation and achieved official Museum status in '07.
Come and visit us the next time you are in Canmore. We are open seven days a week.
Our Impact What We Do
In a normal year we entertain over 20,000 visitors and locals visiting our two facilities and participating in our various programs. We run the Museum and the North West Mounted Police Barracks in Canmore and this is what you will discover when you visit the two venues:
Our main facility is our Museum, at the Canmore Civic Centre in the centre of Canmore. As of March 2016, our new permanent exhibition: "From Coal to Community" tells stories of both the geological and social history of the area. There are hands-on opportunities for everyone and videos provide information about the history of the Canmore area. The Museum is open seven days a week, all year long, except for a couple of days at Christmas.
The other facility is the North West Mounties Police (NWMP) Barracks, situated on the high Street in Canmore. This attractive, white-painted, log cabin style building was erected in 1893 to house a contingent of the NWMP as the area developed rapidly due to the arrival of the railway. This is a heritage building and a small exhibit in the building tells the story of the arrival of the "mounties" and the subsequent history of the people who lived in it. This is where we tell the rest of the stories, especially of life in the early part of Canmore's history. During winter months we rely on volunteers to run the facility which is open, on average, three days a week including the weekends. During the summer we employ students who keep the facility open seven days a week.
A third component of how we carry out our mandate is the development of education programs, particularly those to complement grade school curricula. We recently partnered with Lafarge to develop a program for grade 3 classes whereby the children visit the Museum and Lafarge's premises at Exshaw to learn all about the rocks and minerals of our area and about making cement out of the raw material found in the valley.
In addition to permanent exhibits, we plan a series of temporary exhibits within the permanent space over time. The first of these exhibits will feature Graymont's quarry operations (as opposed to Lafarge's) in the Exshaw area. This exhibit is currently being developed and is scheduled to open sometime in the Spring of 2017.
We have a board, comprised of twelve people, who meet regularly once a month to work on normal board activities such as fundraising, planning, governance, etc., and who also roll up their sleeves and get involved directly in many of the programs of the Society.
Our 2017 annual budget is $457,000, funds to be provided as follows;
- $145,000 Town of Canmore grant
- $101,000 Other grants
- $121,000 Donations
- $51,000 Retail
- $39,000 Admissions and programs
This budget includes a provision for raising at least $100,000 for the Lamp House project. To learn more click here: Calgary Herald: Making Canmore Lamp House a provincial historic site.
Our Programs How We Do It
Our day-to-day operations are run by two full time staff, two part time staff (totalling one full time equivalent), three or four students in the summer and about thirty dedicated volunteers.
In addition to our facilities, we offer a wide range of programs for our visitors, local population and especially schools. These programs include:
- The very popular coal mine tours, led by local mining expert, Gerry Stephenson.
- Other geological and historical tours.
- Gift shop services.
- Children's programs in partnership with the Town of Canmore; "Big Fun Summer Camps"
- Art in the Park where artists display their creations in the garden of the NWMP Barracks.
- Research opportunities for individuals (writers, historians, geologists and local students).
- Support of local organization events such as the Miners' Day Parade, Ladies Hospital Auxiliary, etc.
- Family programs such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas fairs, paper making workshops and a rock and fossil clinic.
- Storage, documentation and preservation of historical and geo-scientific artifacts and information about the Canmore region.
- Opportunities for people to volunteer in the Canmore and Calgary communities (e.g., Mount Royal University students in Calgary leading our Grassi Lakes program)
- An educational program in support of the grade 3 rocks and minerals curriculum, developed in partnership with Lafarge. Other educational programs in support of grade 4, 6 and 7 curricula are being planned to start within the next 12 months. All grade 3 classes in the Canmore/Banff area participated in our programs in the fall of 2016. News of the success of the program appears to have reached Calgary in that at least one school has already requested to participate in the program in the spring of 2017. Our plans are to develop similar programs to complement grades 4, 6 and 7 school curricula in the next 12 months.
Our Requests What You Can Do
We invite you to visit our Museum at the Civic Centre and the NWMP Barracks in the heart of Canmore and learn about our mountains, our coalmining heritage and our social history.
You can VOLUNTEER: Meet people from around the world, be an ambassador, and engage locals and visitors in our unique history. There are at least 3 ways to get involved - you can:
- Provide support and assistance at our Gift Shop/Front Desk;
- Serve as an ambassador for Canmore's history at our NWMP Barracks; or
- Help out at Miner's Day celebrations, the Rock n' Fossil Clinic and other special events.
To learn about volunteering see: http://canmoremuseum.com/volunteer/
You can BECOME A MEMBER: As a thank you to our members, we offer the following:
To learn about membership see: http://canmoremuseum.com/support_membership/
You can SPONSOR our Programs: We are always looking for sponsorship and donations, especially now as we look to developing our education programs and our new special project of restoring the Lamp House.
The Lamp House is on its way to becoming designated a provincial historical site. The stone building, known as the Lamp House, is the only building still standing from the Canmore mines. It is currently fenced off and sits in a field near the old No. 2 mineshaft opening.
- Our project is to rebuild this long standing icon of the coal mining era on its present site and perhaps, who knows, even open up a small part of the nearby number 2 mine.
- “We have basically the whole building there and Alberta Culture and Tourism was impressed it was all there,” according to former Canmore resident David Evans, previous director with the society’s board. Source: Rocky Mountain Outlook - June 9, 2016: Canmore Museum focused on preservation of Lamphouse
- The historical importance of the site would also support it functioning as an interactive exhibit for the museum. Evans said his hope is to see a miner’s park with displays that show what the area used to look like with a coal mine operating.
While fundraising efforts have not officially gotten off the ground, Evans said a few “really good benefactors” have pledged around $65,000. Current estimates to restore the building are around $150,000 he added. (June 9, 2016 - Rocky Mountain Outlook)
Please go to https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/4984 to make your donation or contact the museum at 403-678-2462.