12 Artifacts of the Canmore Museum

In the spirit of the holidays, we've put together 12 items from our collection and archives to tell the story of Canmore. Check back every day from December 13 to December 24 for a new item to appear.


A Large Drum on Display in our Gallery 2005.087.001 In 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a huge amount of resource extraction happening in Canada. These operations needed men to do this difficult work. Mining especially was common in southern Alberta, which meant that it was sometimes difficult for towns like Canmore to find workers. As a consequence, companies often offered incentives in the hopes of attracting men to their towns. Some of those incentives included building recreation centres for the men and their families, like the YMCA in Canmore, or other amenities such as skating rinks. The mine also put on programs for miners and their families that fostered community spirit. For example, the early owners of the Canmore Mines, the H.W. MacNeill Company, sponsored a mine band. Activities such as this were part of the attractant of community life that lured men and their families to come.

Canmore Community Band ca. 1926. 1000.420.001

Oil Painting by W. Avramenko
Believed to have been created as part of a Banff Centre outreach project teaching oil painting projects in Canmore ca. 1960s. This one was painted by a local Canmore miner and features Grotto Mountain in the background.

CCM brand skates
These skates were made in Canada. Skating has long been a favorite winter activity in Canmore, which has been home to famous hockey stars including Alex Kaleta and speed skaters including Thelma Crowe. Skating on the Bow River was also a popular past time in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when crowds would gather in the evening on the ice. If the ice was good enough, people would skate all the way up the river to Banff.

Night School Registry
This night school registry is for the year 1929-1930.


Mine Rescue Apparatus ca. 1960
This artifact is a breathing apparatus to be used in mine rescue. The Canmore Mines were some of the most dangerous in the country and so their mine rescue team was one of the best! However, it wasn’t only the Canmore Mines that had such a team - mines all over the country would come together to compete in mine rescue competitions. Come see some of the trophies that Canmore’s team won in our permanent exhibit, Coal to Community. This was a skilled and dangerous job, and teams had to do a lot of practice. This artifact was donated by museum volunteer and former chief mine engineer at the Canmore Mines, Gerry Stephenson.


Ski boots ca. 1960.
These boots were made ca. 1960 and donated to us by Eric Lomas. There are currently no downhill ski hills in Canmore, but if you look on the slopes of EEOR and Pigeon Mountain, you can see the remains of two of the Bow Valley’s vanished ski slopes.


Canmore Briquettes
Briquettes are made from a combination of coal dust and hot tar pressed together between large, dimpled steel drums. The Canmore briquette plant was built in 1925 at the No. 2 Mine to provide a supply of coal briquettes to the CPR after Bankhead shutdown. They were also sold across Canada as heating fuel. A second unit was added to the Canmore briquette plant in 1940.


Olympic Flag
We have a large collection of artifacts relating to the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary and Canmore, including many of this style of flag, one of the official Olympic Torches, and two of the original Hidy and Howdy costumes which are currently on display at the Richmond Olympic Experience in Richmond, BC.


Calling Telephones
These telephones are a bit of mystery to us. After the Civic Centre Flood in 2014, we discovered an exceptionally heavy pillar-style display case that was closed in on all side. Opening it up, we discovered nearly 90 old phones had been walled up inside of it!


Canmore painting
By author Cliff Faulknor.


Bud the Bison
Bud the Bison is a plains bison. He has been with the museum since 2006, and can currently be found guarding the hallway of the Canmore Civic Centre. If you’re planning on paying Bud a visit, we ask that you kindly resist the urge to stick your fingers inside his nose. Instead we recommend that you take a selfie with him in your best bison pose and share it with us at #canmoremuseum.


A bear in a fruit tree
The North-West Mounted Barracks is Canmore’s third oldest building, first built as home and office to the police detachment in Canmore in 1893. The garden behind our North-West Mounted Police Barracks is currently maintained by our dedicated team of garden volunteers in memory of the beautiful garden once kept at the Barracks by Dora Clarke, wife of Corporal Clarke in Canmore during the late 1910s and 1920s. All food grown in our garden is harvested by volunteers and donated to the food bank before bears like this one can get into it.

Lawrence Grassi
Famous Canmore Mountain Climber. Sexy beast. Has many things named after him in town.