Commemorative Sword | Behind the Scenes

Commemorative Sword | Behind the Scenes

Being the Governor General of Canada can have certain perks such as receiving gifts from the Royal Family. Being the museum in the city in which one of those Governor Generals was born also has perks such as getting to house those gifts. One such gift is a commemorative sword from the investiture of the Prince of Wales.

The Rt. Honourable Roland Michener

His Excellency, the Right Honourable Roland Michener was born in 1900 right here in Lacombe, Alberta at what is now the Michener House Museum. At the time of his birth this house was a manse for the Grace Methodist Church where his father, Edward Michener (later to become Senator Edward Michener), was a minister at the time. The family soon after moved to Red Deer and then to Ontario so that Michener could better pursue his goals.

You can discover more about the history of the Michener House in our virtual exhibition, Michener House, Through the Years.

Michener’s Career

Roland Michener had a very full career. He was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford before returning to Canada to practice law for a short time before pursuing politics. Michener started his political career on the provincial level in Ontario before setting his sites on federal politics in 1949. Michener was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1953 before being chosen as the Speaker of the House in 1957, a position he kept until 1962 after a shocking loss of his riding in that election. After a brief intermission of once again practicing law, Michener began his diplomatic posts as high commissioner to India and Canada’s first ambassador to Nepal. It was on a trip to India that Michener was called back to Canada to become Canada’s 20th Governor General, residing in this position from 1967 (the year of Canada’s centennial) until 1974.

You can discover more about the personal and political life of Roland Michener in our virtual exhibition Rooted in the West.

Roland Michener admiring birthday posters made for him by local school children

The Sword

This brings us to this sword. During his time in the federal government Michener received many tokens and gifts, and as the Governor General Roland Michener had a formal duty to represent the crown of England in the Canadian Parliament. In 1970 Roland Michener was given two gifts in commemoration of the investiture of the now King Charles III as the Prince of Wales including a bust of the Prince, and this sword. Bust of then Prince Charles

Commemorative sword gifted to Roland Michener Close-up of the brass plaque attached to the wooden sword holder

This commemorative sword itself is a replica of fighting swords used by crusaders in the 12th century when the first Prince of Wales was invested. On the blade itself is the inscription “Presented to the Governor General of Canada His Excellency The Right Honourable Roland Michener.CC.CD” and “By Wilkinson Sword (Canada) Ltd. February 1970”. The Wilkinson Sword Company was founded in 1772 as a producer of guns; however, in the 20th century they were known to create ceremonial swords for the British including the sword used for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. Now the company is best known for their razors and personal care items!

Close up of dedication to Roland Michener on blade of sword


Makers mark at the base of the blade

The pommel atop the grip has the Prince of Wales feather badge; three ostrich feathers emerging from a coronet with a ribbon below stating the motto “Ich Dien” meaning “I Serve.” The wooden plaque which holds the sword also has a gold plate stating “Knightly Sword 1272-1307. Exact replica of the fighting sword as used by the crusaders. The first Prince of Wales was invested in February 1301. This sword commemorates the investiture of Prince Charles 21st Prince of Wales at Caernarvon on July 1st 1969.”

Pommel atop grip of sword

Side view of pommel resting on plaque

There were 1000 replica swords made for this occasion and the cost to purchase on in 1969 was around $325.00CAD which would amount to around $2,600.00CAD today. The current value of this sword is almost impossible to determine, not only due to the recent coronation of King Charles III, but also due to the personalized nature of the sword gifted to Roland Michener.

Written by Brittany Kerik, Collections Registrar and Researcher, Lacombe & District Historical Society.

Edited by Melissa Blunden, Executive Director & Curator, Lacombe & District Historical Society.


Nelson School in Lacombe

Behind the Scenes | 1907-1957 Time Capsule

A time capsule is a great way to share the things that are important to you or your community with those in the future. Here at the Lacombe Museum, we were recently given possession of one such time capsule from the Father Lacombe Catholic School!

1907 was a big year for the town of Lacombe. While the population may have been small, Lacombe was a major stop between Calgary and Edmonton, and this prominent position in the province showed. This was the year Lacombe was chosen to be the location of the experimental farm, which still runs as the Lacombe Research Station. It was also the year that Lacombe built the Nelson School,making it potentially the earliest year that we will get a look at in our time capsule.

Nelson School in Lacombe

Lacombe Nelson School

Nelson School to Father Lacombe Catholic School

The Nelson school was an impressive building that dominated the modest skyline of Lacombe. The first major building constructed using Lacombe Brick, Tile and Cement Co bricks, the project had an original budget of $25,000. By the end of the build, the project budget almost doubled this estimate to $40,000, which would equal well over a million dollars today. The Nelson School opened its doors to the children of the area in 1908 and quickly became a central hub of education and community life. The school was named after Reverend John H. Nelson, a Methodist missionary who came to Alberta in the 1880’s with ambitions to assimilate the Indigenous Peoples of the area, including the Ĩyãħé Nakón mąkóce, Nêhiyaw, Niitsítpiis-stahkoii, and (please see our Treaty 6 Info & Resources page). 

After 49 years serving the community, the school was closed in 1957 – records indicating low enrollment for the reason. After its closure, the school bell, which can be seen in the bell tower at the very top of the building, was removed and is currently located in the gardens of the Lacombe Memorial Centre, along with another time capsule found at the school, which is to be opened in 2046. 

Nelson School Bell with second Nelson School time capsule visible

Timeline of the Schools at 52.468175, -113.732867

  • 1907: First Nelson School built
  • 1908: First Nelson School opened
  • 1955-56: First Nelson School demolished
  • 1957: Second Nelson School built
  • 1957: Second Nelson School opened
  • 1980-2000’s: various renovations on the building occurs during the years
  • 2005: name changed to the Father Lacombe Catholic School
  • 2021: Father Lacombe Catholic School begins construction of new school (Second Father Lacombe Catholic School) on site
  • 2023: Father Lacombe Catholic School (Second Nelson School building) demolished
  • 2023: Second Father Lacombe Catholic School opened

Cornerstone in place with plaque

Cornerstone sitting outside in the snow

Time capsule with documents surrounding and archival gloves on top

Time capsule with damage visible on the side.

Continuing a Legacy

As the school was being demolished, a time capsule from 1907 was found within a cornerstone. Before rebuilding the next Nelson school, which was to sit in the same spot, the decision was made to open the 1907 capsule and add more to it, making the contents of what we have today a compilation of documents from 1907 and 1957. An issue of the Lacombe Globe from 1957 stated that the contents included various school papers and various trinkets of the time. These were then put within a copper box that was encased in a large marble cornerstone with “1957” etched into its side and were placed as the cornerstone by the provincial minister of economic affairs and M.L.A. of this constituency at the time, the Hon. A.R. Patrick. Though the cornerstone originally had a plaque, that was kept by the Father Lacombe Catholic School.

Time capsule being held

Receiving History

In 2021 the Father Lacombe Catholic School began the process of rebuilding and modernizing the school, and demolition of the previous school began at the beginning of 2023. It was during this most recent demolition that this capsule was found and was legally transferred into the custody of the Lacombe and District Historical Society. The time capsule experienced some damage as it was being removed from the school which revealed a hint at what contents may be hidden within, mainly a variety of newspapers and school documents.

Time Capsule being laid in Cornerstone by Hon A. R. Patrick.
Lacombe Globe Article Dec 19 1957


What those documents have to say is still to be seen. Whatever secrets may be kept inside this capsule will surely bring a new breadth of knowledge to the long history of this school and our city.

Written by Brittany Kerik,
Researcher, Lacombe & District Historical Society.
Edited by Melissa Blunden,
Executive Director and Curator, Lacombe & District Historical Society.

Behind the Scenes | The Herbarium Collection

Herbarium Specimens are a wealth of information on the natural history of any given region. Here at the Lacombe Museum & Archive, we have a small collection of such items from the Gull Lake area – but how we attained them is just as interesting!

Here is a small sneak into our Gull Lake Herbarium Collection, how we found it and how we worked to properly conserve it.

A special surprise from the past

As archivists and curators, we never know what to expect in the donations that come through the front doors. Over the past 50-years, we have collected and preserved some of the most unique and fragile items that share the story of our area here in Lacombe. When a set of hard-bound editions of The Girls Own Paper came to us from a family home being cleaned out in Gull Lake, imagine our surprise while flipping through the pages to discover these treasures.

Conservation Challenges

Removing these fragile specimens from the pages of the books proved to be a challenge without causing any damage to them. Traditional tools like conservation spatulas and tweezers were too rigid for the task. Our team had to be extremely patient, and with steady hands (and holding our breath!) slide 1 sheet of herbarium paper along the edge of each page, underneath the fragile florals and delicately scrape them off and onto another pristine sheet that was waiting for them to be their new permanent home.

As part of our Storage Policy, each specimen is laid on a single sheet of herbarium paper, in a polyethylene casing, which has a label affixed to it – then sealed in a polyethylene bag to make sure nothing can damage the specimens over time (this is in practice with our Integrated Pest Management Plan, as a variety of pests love the pollen and seeds, even in dried and pressed flora!)

More Finds

It didn’t take long for the team to start looking through the other editions, finding more pressed plants, including both a corsage and bouquet, hand-drawn Easter Cards, Canadian Red Cross membership cards, prayer cards, polaroids and more! With thousands of pages to go through, we are sure there are more treasures tucked away in these books waiting for us to find. Watch this BTS video of the accessioning process.

Supplies used from Carr McLean included: Herbarium Mounting Paper; Herbarium Specimen Sheet Protectors; Ziplock Polyethylene Bags; Acid-free Labels; Archival Pen.

Written by Melissa Blunden,
Executive Director and Curator, Lacombe & District Historical Society.

Behind the Scenes | The Lacombe Globe Collection

The Lacombe Globe was originally founded as the Western Globe by J.D. Skinner in 1900 and printed its final issue in January of 2020 after 119 years of reporting local Lacombe news and events. Over the past 50 years, we have made an effort to collect all of the newspapers of Lacombe on a weekly basis – having original copies of the Lacombe Globe back to 1907.

Original Lacombe Globe offices on 50th Street

In early 2019, when the office was relocated from its downtown location, the Lacombe & District Historical Society was able to accept a large donation of items otherwise meant for the recycling depot – take a look below through the journey that relocating this large donation into our stewardship truly meant.

the print room

A Look into the Lacombe Globe Collection

The logistics behind this large accession took months to arrange, given our small space and being at capacity already. With help from the City of Lacombe and the Lacombe Globe staff, the Lacombe & District Historical Society team were able to carefully relocate the entirety of the collection to temporary storage for 6-months at a City of Lacombe facility.

storage inside the Lacombe Globe office basement, 2019

Some of the records were incredibly fragile, deteriorating from years of being mishandled and stored in an unideal location. Over the course of 2019 summer students and volunteers were able to inventory and sort through the donation which totalled:

  • 20,000 (+/-) photographic negatives Lacombe Globe Reporters had taken throughout the years in Lacombe and surrounding communities;
  • 73 years of large bound-copies of the newspaper;
  • photography equipment and boxes of DVDs and CDs of digital data on them.

By end of August 2019, the Lacombe Globe donation had formally been accepted into the Lacombe & District Historical Society Collection, and moved from temporary storage to our Permanent Collection Space. Combined with our original editions of the Lacombe Globe (Lacombe Westerner at the time) records, which span back to 1907, this means we have over 6000 original Lacombe Globe newspapers in our Archives, plus the Reference Collection, Photographs and Negatives! (with the 4 other local newspapers we have collected, we have over 8000 issues in our Newspaper Collection!)

packaged and waiting for transport

Public Accessibility to the Lacombe Globe Collection

The newly accessioned bound-issues of the Lacombe Globe will be made available to the public for in-person research once the COVID-19 Pandemic has ended and museums and galleries are able to open. Our pristine condition issues will remain in the archival storage, however we are actively digitizing them!

Skinner and his original printing press

We have worked for over a decade to bring all of our collections to the publics hands as easily as possible. This work included loaning the original newspapers from 1907-1939 to the University of Alberta for the Peel’s Prairie Provinces Newspaper Project, where they were digitized and then resent back to us for safe keeping. A wonderful online research resource, Peel’s Prairie Provinces hosts 1197 issues of our Lacombe Globe records; 168 issues of our Lacombe Guardian records; & 155 issues of our Advertiser and Central Alberta News records.

The End Goal?

With an overhead scanner being loaned to the Lacombe & District Historical Society, staff and volunteers have made progress over 2020 and 2021 in scanning the next 8 years of Lacombe Globe Newspaper Issues – a project that has taken over 350 hours to date – watch this BTS video of the digitization process.

The Lacombe Globe Negatives we accessioned at the same time are also going through a similar process of digitizing, after being cleaned, rehoused, labelled and described by our team members. Watch this BTS video of the digitization process.

Lacombe & District Historical Society Staff clean and describe thousands of Lacombe Globe Negatives strip by strip

While this is all very time consuming and is repetitive work, it is so important to our collections in the future, for two key purposes:

  1. heritage belongs to all of us, and it is our duty as heritage professionals to safeguard and share our collective heritage on behalf of the public trust. Heritage information should be widely available, accessible, and useable. Everything we do in the heritage realm is values-based, which helps us develop and maintain best practices with regards to heritage management. If we fail to make heritage accessible to all, then who are we preserving heritage for?;
  2. While there are various ways that heritage records can be kept and identified, they must be standardized, be kept somewhere safe and accessible, be backed up, and be migrated and/or updated often. This principle contributes to better overall heritage management because without heritage records, how can we safely and efficiently preserve our heritage? In other words, information is only as good as its maintenance and usability. If all our heritage was stored on 8tracks or floppy disks, arguably obsolete forms of digital storage, how useful would it be in 2021? Conversely, if we allow our heritage to remain only in its original format (e.g., newspapers, acetate photos, cassettes, etc.) without any form of up-to-date digital backup, any one of the ten agents of deterioration would severely impact the longevity of that heritage.


We look forward to completing this work over the coming years, and making available the collections online, decade by decade, for the public to have access!

Written by Melissa Blunden,
Executive Director and Curator, Lacombe & District Historical Society.

Visit the Globe Online at Peel’s Prairie

Behind the Scenes | Restoring the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop

A common misconception with conservation or restoration work to buildings is that they should look brand new upon completion. Work on historical building such as the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop (built in 1902), isn’t about updating or giving the building a fresh new look, rather maintaining and preserving what is already there.

The blacksmith shop, now the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum, was first opened in 1902 by A. F. Weddle. It was the fourth operating blacksmith shop to open in Lacombe at the time, so while it may seem like an isolated relic on its original site now, it represents a once bustling and competitive industry.

Ownership of this shop on Glass Street changed hands several times over the years, until it was taken over in 1939 and later purchased by Jules Selvais. The Selvais family owned the shop for the longest period, from the early 1940s until it was purchased by the Lacombe & District Historical Society in 1993. Jules and his son Roger operated the shop and added a welding shop on the west side in 1953. During the early 1950s, actual blacksmithing ceased, but many of the tools, such as the imposing Trip Hammers, were retained, a fact which greatly enhances the historical value of this site. Roger and his son Ronald operated the shop commercially until 1987.

Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum 1991 vs. 2020

Original Restoration Work (1993-94)

In 1991, not long after commercial operations ceased, the Lacombe & District Historical Society began looking into purchasing the shop and restoring for use as a museum. After 2 years of fundraising, the shop was bought by the LDHS and restorations began during the summer of 1993. The foundation, interior and exterior walls, and the roof were repaired and the sliding doors at the front of the shop were restored. The Blacksmith Shop Museum officially opened on July 16, 1994 as part of Lacombe Days celebrations. In 2011, the Blacksmith Shop Museum became a designated Provincial Historic Resource as the Oldest Blacksmith Shop in Alberta on its original location. In 2015 it was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource, and is now a popular attraction where museum guests can watch live demonstrations or enrol in blacksmithing classes.

Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum restoration work circa 1990’s.

Recent work to the doors & windows (2019)

With financial support from the Alberta Historical Resource Foundation, Echo Lacombe Association & the City of Lacombe Heritage Resource Committee, in 2019 the Lacombe & District Historical Society funded conservation and restoration work to the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop. Denzil Paterson of Central Valley Furniture dismantled and repaired all of the original wooden windows, did some minor repairs to two of them, made new storm windows to replace the existing plexiglass over the windows, repaired flashing above doors, and repainted all of the exterior woodwork including all doors and signage.

While doing this work, we rediscovered Bill Marquardt’s original signature with ‘1997‘ on the sign he handmade for the Shop. After having it repaired, we made sure to get him to resign it for us! Look closely when you visit next at the sign and see if you can see his fresh signature waaaaay up there!

Future Work

Pending Provincial Grant approvals, in 2021 work to the buildings envelope, including roof and siding repairs, will be completed by Central Valley Furniture. Repair work and servicing of the two original trip-hammers and antique engine are also on the docket.

Written by Melissa Blunden,
Executive Director and Curator, Lacombe & District Historical Society.