The Centennial Museum Society of Canmore was officially formed on January 10, 1984.
The Society operates the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre. The Society was originally formed as a result of the 1983 Centennial celebrations in Canmore. A group of dedicated local individuals created a display of photographs and artifacts in the old Canmore school. The Society had no home until 1988, when it moved into the building that now houses Tourism Canmore. At that time the focus was on the human heritage and history of Canmore. In 1998, the Geoscience Centre was added to celebrate the unique geological aspect of Canmore, and the name of the Museum was changed to reflect that addition. In 2004, the Museum was invited by then mayor, Glen Craig, to be a tenant in the new Town of Canmore Civic Centre. The Society continues to oversee the Museum’s operations and pursue its mandate: to tell the stories of our mountains and our communities for present and future generations.
In 2009, the Society celebrated its 25th anniversary with an exhibition of more than 100 artifacts reflecting the range of subject areas represented in the Museum’s collections, including mining and sports memorabilia, Olympic artifacts and textiles, and maps, books and photographs. In addition, a 25th Anniversary celebration and fundraiser was held at the NWMP Barracks site.
The Museum also oversees the upkeep and operations of the 1893 North West Mounted Police Barracks, a designated Provincial Resource. The Barracks is the oldest purpose-built barracks in Western Canada, and a mainstay of Canmore’s main street. It was used until 1929, at which time it was used as a private residence. In 1989, the Town of Canmore took over possession, purchasing the lot beside it, and partnered with the Society to oversee its restoration. The Barracks is free to the public, and hosts a number of community events over the course of the year, including Art-in-the-Park, a celebration of local and area artists and artisans. The Barracks also contains a tea house, and is home to the Roman Piwowar Memorial Garden, which contains both native and heritage plants and flowers.
The Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre has both permanent and temporary displays, covering the human heritage of Canmore and region as well as the unique geological history of the Canadian Rockies. Permanent displays include Early Canmore: Boxcars and Coal Diggers and Dangerous Work; a display of Canmore’s Olympic heritage which includes Hidy and Howdy, the 1988 Winter Olympics mascots; as well as displays about the formation of the Rockies, Rat’s Nest Cave, the Devonian reef, fossils and Canmore coal. The central exhibition area is home to larger exhibitions, usually 4-6 months in duration.