Nose Creek Valley Museum

Story and Photos by Carmen Cundy

Fall 2018

“We’re making history every day”

Twenty-eighteen marks 30 years for the Nose Creek Valley Museum, and in honour of its anniversary the museum is looking for new ways in which to share the Nose Creek Valley story with future generations.

Brimming with local wildlife, Native American lithic, pioneer saddles, classic cars and military memorabilia, the Nose Creek Valley Museum is a place of bliss for the everyday history buff or amateur anthropologist.

Thirty years ago, a local group of farmers called Unifarm envisaged a museum that could house artifacts from all across the Nose Creek Valley, and in 1985, they banded together to create the Nose Creek Valley Museum Society.

In 1986, the society began fundraising and gathering money for a museum, and by 1987 they had managed to raise $550,000 for their efforts.

The Nose Creek Valley Museum opened in 1988 with the goal of preserving, protecting, exhibiting and recording the history of the Nose Creek Valley.

Artifacts from all across the Nose Creek Valley flooded the museum between 1988-1993, and the collection eventually grew so big that the society was forced to add on to the original building.

This addition is named the “Walter Bushfield Annex,” in honour of Walter Bushfield, who retired from the museum’s board of directors after serving as president for 27 years.

The “annex” is home to the museum’s farm equipment, tractors and antique cars – including a salmon pink 1964 Mercury Montclair.

In its 30 years of preserving and recording history, the museum has had a total of seven curators and more than 200 volunteers, and museum curator Laurie Harvey is among the ranks.

Harvey was raised on a farm just outside of Airdrie, and her passion for the Nose Creek Valley is evidenced by her knowledge of the region’s history.

Harvey recalls trips to the old grain elevator in Airdrie with her grandparents, and reminisces about a time when kids were more familiar with the origins of their food.

“When I was a kid I knew what barley was, and wheat, and rye, and canola, but kids today are like “It’s just spaghetti,” she says with a laugh.

Harvey recognizes the important role that the museum plays in educating younger generations about the past.

The Nose Creek Valley Museum hosts “a pile of schools” in the local area that spend anywhere from an hour to a week exploring the museum.

“We have schools come here every day for a week and they call it museum immersion. They use the museum for every subject –science, art, music, and of course social, community leadership, things like that.

“We’re so affordable – a lot of schools walk here.”

Harvey can’t help but chuckle when it comes time to explain to the kids the complications of the chamber pot in pioneer days.

According to Harvey, the kids are all pretty shocked when they find out that children were responsible for emptying it.

And when the kids get around to Harvey’s favourite exhibit, the store, she explains to them that you could get almost anything at your local general store – kind of like an old-time “Wal-Mart.”

In its mission to share the Nose Creek Valley story with future generations, the museum is attempting to record the present-day history of the Nose Creek Valley.

Harvey reveals a little-known project that the museum has been working on: going around town and taking pictures.

The museum has taken more than 1,000 photos of Airdrie in its efforts to record the events, changes, buildings and landscape of the Nose Creek Valley.

“It’s one of our projects that people don’t really know about, because we’re not actually displaying the pictures from today.

“We’re just taking them and preserving them for the future.”

The museum relies on donations from its generous supporters, but often people won’t come forward with photos from the 1950s or 1980s, for example, because they don’t think it’s history, says Harvey.

“But, we’re making history every day.”

This has left the museum with gaps in their collecting, but Harvey and her team are working to rectify that.

“We have a lot of pictures from 1900-1915, and then we have nothing … until we started.”

Harvey and her team are determined to share the Nose Creek Valley story for years to come, and have embarked on hosting a new series of special guest speakers, called the Redneck Intellect Series.

“We’re hoping to have a new speaker every month to kind of continue that theme.”

In addition to guest speakers, and temporary exhibits, the museum has sustained operations through fundraising and donations for the last 30 years.

The museum also rents out two of its rooms in an effort to garner some extra cash flow.

“That’s the biggest way we keep ourselves open.”

Looking toward the future, Harvey says it would be nice to have a bigger building, but that’s on the “Peter Pan wish list.”



Fun Facts about Nose Creek Valley Museum:

  1.  The museum has 74 license plates, 66 of which are on display at the current time. The museum has every license plate from 1911.
  2.  The museum has approximately 18,000 artifacts in its collection.
  3.  There are approximately 2,000-3,000 arrowhead/spearheads in the museum, and added to all the other lithics, it would total close to 8,000 lithics in its collection.
  4.  The museum has a toilet with a wooden tank in its collection.
  5.  The museum has a Memorial Cross medal in its collection – WWI – “Silver Cross of Sacrifice” – 2nd Lieutenant CM Sayer.