Gibbons Museum brings great memories of the past into the present

by Stephen Dafoe

Just a short distance from Morinville is the Gibbons Museum, a collection of buildings and memories that are well worth a family day trip. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the museum closed for lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m.

One of the main attractions of the outdoor museum is the McLean Brothers Store, a well-preserved general store with plenty of artifacts of Alberta’s commercial past, and a recently added building that serves as an area for Tuesday card games for locals and visitors.

Summer student Erin Hedstrom said the building is the original McLean Brothers Store, built in 1920 and originally located on Main Street in Gibbons. The store was moved to the museum area in 1990, seven years after the historical attraction opened.

Inside, the shop is set up pretty much as it would have been when it ran as a general store and post office in the 1920s.

“Gibbons Museum focuses on trying to creating great memories of the past into the present,” Hedstrom said. “I think that it is something that’s really cool and important in this day and age.

“We have a lot of parents who don’t think that their kids would necessarily enjoy it because museums tend to be a little bit stuffy if we’re not appropriately interactive. We’re really lucky because we have a museum that I find the kids enjoy more than the adults.”

Part of that enjoyment comes from being able to take part in children’s programming. The museum host Decade Days on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m., an interactive program that mixes crafts with information from the past.

But even for the casual visitor, there is plenty for children and adults to see in the many of the other buildings that surround the McLean Brothers Store on the museum grounds.

These include the McWhirter House, which was built on a farm, two miles south of Gibbons in the early 1940s. Like the store, the home was moved to the grounds in 1986. The home is set up exactly as it would have been in the 1940s with a cast-iron stove, tiny rooms of furniture, and no indoor toilet.

Another popular building is a log home that Reverend Orlando James Roberts built around 1907. The home was the first moved to the museum site in 1983.

For more information on the Gibbons Museum, contact the Town of Gibbons 780-923-3331.

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