Tuesday, 01 November 2016 08:00

Milk River’s new historical society is popular

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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The three-day mini museum was a huge hit in the community of Milk River, during the community’s centennial celebrations this summer. It was so popular that it was decided to create a new historical society for Milk River and to keep the museum. This is just a temporary location until the historical society can find a more permanent home for the artifacts. The three-day mini museum was a huge hit in the community of Milk River, during the community’s centennial celebrations this summer. It was so popular that it was decided to create a new historical society for Milk River and to keep the museum. This is just a temporary location until the historical society can find a more permanent home for the artifacts. Photo contributed

The history of Milk River will be preserved for years to come, thanks to a new historical society.


A new historical society has been created as an offshoot from a mini museum that was put together for the centennial celebrations this summer.
In this mini museum, locals brought in artifacts that represent the history of Milk River. The mini museum was such a hit with the community, that it was decided to have a permanent museum in the area with this historical society.
The objectives of the new historical society are to acquire, maintain and preserve artifacts, maps, documents, records that have historical relevance to the town of Milk River and its surrounding area.
“We appreciate just how big it is along the Milk River,” says Dale Leffingwell, president of the new historical society for Milk River.
Leffingwell says they wanted to have a site where they could house artifacts, which they did for the centennial.
Part of the objectives of this society are also to receive funds to be able to preserve the history of Milk River.
They want to even look at educational components for the youth to be involved with preserving and learning about the history of the area.
“One of the exciting things is the fact that … there’s been very little research done on the Northwest Mounted Police up in the Milk River region area,” adds Leffingwell.
That’s one area where the historical society really wants to dig up history and artifacts. Leffingwell grew up in the Milk River area and he can’t believe what he didn’t know about the area. He says his grandmother inspired him more than anybody. She had a keen interest in preserving pieces of the Milk River history, between newspapers, magazine articles and artifacts.
Through the efforts of Leffingwell’s grandmother, the historical society has a complete Royal Northwest Mounted Police uniform. It was a friend of hers that worked at Writing on Stone.
“I have a passion for it … I love it,” adds Leffingwell about why he decided to be a part of the historical society.
Currently the mini museum is housed in a building on Main Street that was originally a 1913 pool hall and barbershop. The building is being lent to the historical society until they can find a more permanent location.
On the weekend of Sept. 24, the historical society held its first fundraiser with a silent auction and a beef on a bun. Several of the members of the society donated their time and efforts to put on this fundraiser and Leffingwell says it was a great success. There were more than 100 people in attendance.
Money raised from that event is going to help the society start the process of pursuing some of the initial needs to establish a museum. As well, the historical society will receive a grant from the centennial society in the amount of $2,500.
Leffingwell says to run a museum they have to keep track of all the artifacts that come in, house them properly and they have to record the stories of everyone involved with the artifacts.
He adds the historical society currently has its eye on a couple of location options to have a permanent museum. The society is looking forward to sharing ideas with the entire Milk River and area community.
“In our museum right now … we brought in …. a gasoline-powered washer machine and … there’s a couple different coal stoves in there … one is a kitchen range and the other is what’s called the homesteaders dream stove, which comes from cabooses,” adds Leffingwell.
The historical society is currently working on applying for other grants.  They started with a small group of half a dozen people and now the society is beginning to sell memberships and get people involved. Leffingwell says they’re a work in progress right now.
He says the historical society is just working on the basics and figuring out what they need to do to get going.
There have been several maps the historical society has received from other museums about the area of the Milk River and the trails around the area and locals have already noticed errors in some of those maps.
Leffingwell, says that’s what they want to do is fix errors in history and ensure the public knows the true history of the area.

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