Fancy taking a road trip through time? We put together a list of some of the coolest museums and heritage areas East of Edmonton you can visit if you’re fiending some local knowledge and cool facts. Pack your things, jump in the car and let’s go – east!
Wetaskiwin – If you consider yourself to be a bit of a motor head, or just want to learn about the world of machines, head to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum. This interactive museum if full of classic cars and vehicles that you can climb into, exciting warehouse tours, and an indoor drive-in movie theatre! School and youth programs are also available, as well as a variety of guided experiences. Stop by Cruisers Café for a delicious lunch, and don’t forget to check out the gift shop!
St Paul – Agriculture has always been an important part of Alberta’s culture and history, and St. Paul Museum is dedicated to showcasing how farming has evolved over the years through various displays. You can also check out their new First Nations Display as well as the trapper’s cabin, farm kitchen, general store, and barber shop. They are open daily this summer, so plan you trip now! Historic Destrube House pictured at top.
Viking – Located on the end of Main Street, Viking’s historic first hospital that opened in 1922 now houses the Viking and District Museum. The museum follows the town’s history from the first Scandinavian setters to the community is it today. Check out all of the intriguing artifacts, maps, and photographs that have been collected over the years, as well as the restored buildings such as the church, post office, country school, and farm house. For more news and details on their Facebook page, click here.
HWY 28 and North
Bonnyville & Cold Lake – The Bonnyville & District Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia relevant to the town’s history. You’ll have a blast exploring through several buildings including two churches, a school, a general store, a hospital display and a replica of the Northwest Trading post that served as one of the major destination points in settlement-era Bonnyville.
Head up the road and check out the Cold Lake Museum, offering a lot of interesting things for just about anyone. If you’re into military and aviation, the Air Force Museum has flight simulations and historical displays of our military past. You can discover just how oil extraction works in the Oil & Gas Museum, learn about the history of the Indigenous communities that settled along Cold Lake in the Aboriginal Museum and find out about the first European settlers who arrived in the region at the Heritage Museum.
Lac La Biche – Part of one of the oldest communities in Alberta, the Lac La Biche Mission Historical Society is home to the fully restored convent from 1894. Learn about some of Alberta’s early residents while exploring the many exhibits and displays available, and participate in one of their guided tours! For more information on upcoming events, check out their website or Facebook page.
Displaying nearly 2000 Indigenous artwork and artifacts from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, the Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Art is dedicated to teaching the rich history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. While you are free to explore on your own, you can also request a group tour to get the most out of your experience. If you want to take some of this wonderful art home with you, stop by the Traditions Store, or participate in one of their workshops and learn the traditional ways of teaching through art.
You’re going to want to make a whole day trip out of this one. The Lac La Biche Museum is filled with numerous interactive exhibits displaying the town’s history, including the Boreal Forrest exhibit, Fur Trade exhibit, The Empress of France & and The Sea Cadets – and that’s just to name a few! Don’t forget to visit the gift shop to see what books and knick-knack it has to offer.\
Redwater – The Redwater and District Museum is a living time capsule of the region’s homesteading roots. You’ll get to take in some thought-provoking artifacts and displays all tied to the history of one-room schools and when oil was discovered in Redwater, bringing serious changes to the area. But you’ll want to be quick – the museum is open between 1 and 3 PM on Saturdays.
Smoky Lake County Region – Fancy a trip to settlement times? The Victoria Settlement Historic Site is home to the oldest building in Alberta, still standing on its original foundation! You can get a real dose of pioneer history here and thanks to working interpreters, tour the former fort.
You won’t find a spot quite like Metis Crossing in Western Canada. Dedicated to documenting Metis culture, it’s 512 acres filled with plenty of rich history, a gorgeous riverfront view, boat launch and a gift shop. We mean it when we say you’ll be standing on history; the area has been an important river crossing for centuries and the campsites were originally used by the Metis people, fur traders, missionaries, voyagers and farmers for over 6000 years.
Thorhild County – Thorhild Library is home to the Thorhild Museum, open to the public upon request. Check out great displays, items and artifacts detailing the past of Thorhild and its unique culture. It is also home to a general store that replicates what it would have been like in the time of the pioneers.
Willingdon – Located 4 miles north of Hwy 45 is the Romanian Pioneer Museum of Boian where you can experience fascinating Romanian history and culture. Explore this open-air museum displaying artifacts, documents, and family histories from Romanian immigrants who came to Alberta in the early 20th century. Four exhibits are featured, including The Bordei—a shelter used by pioneers. Bring out the family for a day of fun!
HWY 15 & 45
Fort Saskatchewan – To learn about the fascinating history of the Northwest Mounted Police and the early settlers and pioneers of Fort Saskatchewan, head to the Fort Heritage Precinct! Filled with historic artifacts and buildings such as the courthouse, there is plenty to explore both in the pioneer village and in the newly completed fort. Guided tours are available as well as exciting programs and events!
Lamont County Region – The self-described “Church Capital of North America,” Lamont is home to more churches per capita than anywhere else on the continent. Stop in at the County Office to pick up a self-guided tour information and let the adventure begin!
History comes to life at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. This open-air museum, found in the heart of the largest Ukrainian settlement area in Canada, recreates 35 restored buildings that were part of the first major Ukrainian bloc settlement in Central Alberta. Learn all about the history of Ukrainian immigration, brought to life with the help of interpreters found throughout the park.
East Central Alberta – If you haven’t been on the Central Rural East Alberta Museums Tour, consider this summer your opportunity to cross it off your bucket list. The CREAM tour has something for everyone in the family, with 16 museums alongside highways 13 thru 16 set to take you on a crash course through rural history. One of these museums, the Iron Creek Museum, is comprised of several heritage buildings full of items from founding families in the Lougheed region. There’s a grain elevator worth exploring as it houses several displays you can check out. Meanwhile, you can expect plenty of local history exhibits, heritage demonstrations, archives & local art and classic farm machinery at any one of the great stops along the way.
Elk Island National Park – Nestled deep in the Astotin Lake Area is the Ukrainian Pioneer Home, built in the early 1950s to honour the Ukrainian-Canadians who settled in the area. It was the first museum in the country dedicated to Ukrainian immigration and today, this one-story replica stands as an example of how homes were built in the era.
Vegreville – The Vegreville Regional Museum, located on the site of a former renowned research station, is where to go to learn more about the four distinct pioneer groups that all came to the region in the 1890s to help form Vegreville. It’s a slice of local history and it pulls double duty serving as a home for the Vegreville & District Sports Hall of Fame. Talk about a 2 for 1!
For a complete listing of Museums and Historic sites click here.
Looking for a place to stay on your next road trip?! For a campground? See our blog here!
If a hotel is more your style, here’s a few great places to stay:
Lamont Heartland Hotel
Smoky Lake Super 8
Redwater – Paradise Inn
Cold Lake Hamilton House
Cold Lake Marriott Hotel at Casino Dene
Sherwood Park Hotels
Sherwood Park – Park Centre & Hotel
Need more info? We’re happy to help you plan a trip! Please feel free to contact our Go East of Edmonton team at 1-888-632-8755 or message us on Facebook.