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The History Buff’s Guide to the Region – Must-See Museums and Historical Sites

60 Million Years of Untapped Wonder (Give or Take)

 

Not to boast, but the Grande Prairie region has been around for a minute. The history of our region lies all around us – you can see it written in the landscapes, preserved in the oral histories and traditions of Indigenous and Métis Peoples, and enshrined in the many museums we’re proud to maintain, just waiting to share a story 60 million+ years in the making.

In just one day, visiting history buffs and community residents alike can travel our region and find all sorts of sights and experiences to quench their thirst for knowledge. With many museums offering free or discounted admission prices, learning about our region’s past won’t break the bank, either. We’ve gathered some of our favourite highlights below.

 

History of the Land

Did you know that Grande Prairie used to be underwater? This has not only given us plenty of astounding fossils of marine creatures along with dinosaurs, it has also helped shape the land itself.

Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum

Get up close and personal with a life-size Albertosaurus! The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum’s ever-changing lineup of exhibits lets you delve into the past, with displays of fossils and information about how Grande Prairie itself looked millions of years ago.

Website: https://dinomuseum.ca/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 22.4km

  • Admission Price:
  • Adults 18+: $14.00 + GST
  • Seniors (65+) and Veterans: $11.00 + GST
  • Children (5-17): $7.00 + GST
  • Students (with valid ID): $7.00 + GST
  • Children Under 5: FREE
  • Family (2 Adults and up to 4 Children): $40.00 + GST

 

Person overlooking historic Grande PrairieKleskun Hills Provincial Park and Museum

Erosion caused by rivers millions of years ago has blessed Kleskun Hill Provincial Park with captivating hoodoo-esque formations that feel like stepping into another world. The site has long been significant to Indigenous Peoples, and a museum on-site commemorates both this and the way of life of European settlers, with several historic buildings left standing.

Park Website: https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/north/kleskun-hill-na/

Museum Website: https://www.discoverbezanson.ca/directory/kleskun-hills-museum/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 23.9km

Admission Price for Museum Tours (Note – visiting the outdoor park is free!):

  • Adult: $2.00
  • Youth: $1.00

 

Muskoseepi Park

Muskoseepi Park runs through downtown Grande Prairie, featuring over 1,100 acres of carefully preserved parkland. ‘Muskoseepi’ is a Cree word meaning Bear Creek, paying homage to the first people who inhabited the area and the river that runs through the park. A walk along one of Muskoseepi Park’s many trails is the most convenient (and beautiful) way to discover how the city might have looked in ages past.

Website: https://cityofgp.com/parks-recreation/parks-trails/muskoseepi-park

Distance from Grande Prairie: 0.0km

Admission Price:

  • Free!

History of the Indigenous 

Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit Peoples have inhabited the Peace Country since time immemorial. Discover a living history and culture that predates Grande Prairie through these selected highlights from our region!

The Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association acknowledges that we are fortunate to live and work on Treaty 8 territory, the ancestral and present-day home to many diverse First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.

 

Traditional Healing Gardens at Grande Prairie Friendship Centre

The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre was created to support Indigenous people who live in the urban centre of Grande Prairie and keep their culture alive. Their mission is best seen in their Traditional Healing Gardens, which grow the ingredients needed for many traditional medicines and ceremonies. A tour can be booked in advance – and everyone is welcome!

Website: https://www.gpfriendshipcenter.com

Located in Grande Prairie

Admission Price:

  • Through Donation

 

Grant Berg Gallery

The Grant Berg Gallery is owned and operated by Grant Berg, an Indigenous sculptor who works primarily in stone, antler, and wood. He pays tribute to his heritage through his art and invites other Indigenous artists (along with others of non-Indigenous descent) to share their message through regular rotating exhibits.

Website: https://grantberggallery.com/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 0.0km

Admission Price:

  • General Admission: Free
  • Exhibit Admission: Varies

 

If you’re interested in exploring Indigenous culture and history in the wider Alberta area, we highly recommend visiting Indigenous Tourism Alberta.

 

History of the Settlers

Europeans initially arrived in the Grande Prairie region in the late 1700s, a combination of explorers and those involved in the fur trade. Settlers soon followed, and by the early 20th century, the city of Grande Prairie had been established. Their story is memorialized in museums around the region.

 

Grande Prairie Museum

While you’re visiting Muskoseepi Park, you can drop into the Grande Prairie Museum for free! The museum’s collection has about 55,000 authentic pioneer artifacts, easily letting you imagine what life must have been like.

Website: https://cityofgp.com/parks-recreation/facilities-venues/museums/grande-prairie-museum

Located in Grande Prairie

Admission Price:

  • Free!

 

McNaught Homestead Heritage

South of Beaverlodge, you’ll find the McNaught Homestead Heritage, which has preserved an authentic homestead of the McNaught family, long-time residents of the region. The 160-acre homestead features authentic buildings, walking trails, and a lake rich with birdlife.

Website: http://www.mcnaught-homestead-heritage.com/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 43.4km

Admission Price:

  • Via Donation (bring cash)

 

South Peace Centennial Museum

Since 1967, the South Peace Centennial Museum has been welcoming guests to explore 40 acres of a restored pioneer village. There’s plenty of buildings to see, along with hundreds of antique tractors, steam engines, stationary engines, horse-drawn wagons and rare antique automobiles.

Website: https://southpeacemuseum.com/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 45.1km

Admission Price:

  • Day Pass: $5.00
  • Events: $10.00

 

Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park

Dunvegan has a long history both for the Indigenous Dunne-za People and for European fur traders who established Fort Dunvegan in 1805. Through four original, authentically-restored buildings nestled in Dunvegan Provincial Park – hard to miss next to the towering suspension bridge – the staff of Historic Dunvegan (dressed in time period-appropriate clothing!) provide interpretive experiences to help flesh out what life must have been like in days gone by.

Website: https://historicdunvegan.ca/

Distance from Grande Prairie: 90.1km

Admission Price:

  • Adults (18-64): $5.00
  • Senior (65+): $4.00
  • Youth (7-17): $2.00
  • Family (2 Adults + Youth. Maximum of 8 people): $14.00
  • Child (0-6): Free

 

Sexsmith Museum Society

Once known as the ‘Grain Capital of the British Empire,’ the Sexsmith Museum Society honours this heritage by restoring and maintaining the last authentic grain elevator in Sexsmith. It also provides a self-guided walking tour app, which directs you to historical highlights throughout the town.

Website: https://www.sexsmithmuseum.com/home

Distance from Grande Prairie: 21.5km (Closed During Winter Months)

Admission Price:

  • Donations Encouraged

 

Veterans Memorial Garden and Interpretive Centre

All of Canada has a long and distinguished military history, and the Grande Prairie region is no exception. Men and women from the Peace Country have served in the Canadian armed forces since their inception, and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Veterans Memorial Garden and Interpretive Centre keep the memory of these heroes alive.

Website: https://www.veteransmemorialgardens.com/

Located in Grande Prairie

Admission Price:

  • Free

 

History Yet to Be Written…

Well, that’s a good starting point, but as they say, history is better lived than witnessed. There’s plenty more to get out and experience in our region – why not hit up some more art galleries, or chronicle the late-night behaviour of Grande Prairie residents in the early 21st century? – so don’t delay and get out there!

As always, we love to hear about your stories on our social media accounts. Hit us up with #GPTourism, and we may just feature you!