Mackenzie Crossroads Museum & Visitors Centre

About

This uniquely designed log building, located on the east side of Highway #35 at the south end of High Level, celebrated its Grand Opening in August 1991. The Centre, OPEN YEAR-ROUND, features visitor information, a regional human history museum, souvenir sales, Wi-Fi, access to a public computer and an outdoor picnic area with a large parking area.

The primary exhibit in the Museum, the “Northern Trading Post”, features an outstanding collection of over 1,600 food and medicine containers, donated by local residents. These, plus other artifacts in use during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, are showcased in a typical trading post/general store setting complete with attached living quarters. Supplementary displays feature information on the First People to inhabit the area, Trapping/Fur Trading, and Farming in the region, as well as a display on the life of the Pioneer Woman. A regional historical photo display is a treasured part of the collection.

Traveling displays rotate through the Interpretive Gallery during the year, encompassing art exhibits from regional galleries and diverse traveling exhibits. Local displays and exhibits are also housed throughout the year, some on an annual basis, i.e. the Annual Summer Art Show, where local artists of all ages, mediums and levels of talent are encouraged to exhibit their works, and the fall Photo Challenge. The Photo Challenge welcomes photographers of all ages and skill level to submit photos of the area to be voted on by members of the public. You can see photos from previous challenges hung around the building as well as out at High Level’s Municipal airport, located 13km north of the town.

Other annual special events include our very popular Old Fashioned Christmas Open House. It is a fun filled day complete with horse-drawn wagon rides, crafts, snacks and even photos with Santa!

School and group tours are on-going. Here children get to dress up as pioneers and learn what life was like in the 1900’s. They also get to participate in either candle dipping or butter making. Please call us to book an appointment.

Our Visitor Information Centre is also active year-round with an extensive array of local, regional, provincial and national travel information. Community members and visitors alike can access Town of High Level information packages or vacation planning brochures and maps.

Several outdoor historical murals are an extension of the Museum and are still visible in downtown High Level. Descriptive panels tell the tale of each historically significant work, which were originally painted in 1988 by a variety of artists. Sadly these murals are slowly disappearing.

Stop by the outdoor bulletin board in the shelter next to the Museum to see what is going on in the community and upcoming events.

Welcome to High Level, located at kilometer 280 of the Mackenzie Highway (#35), midway between Edmonton, AB and Yellowknife, NWT.

Long before High Level became a town in 1965, the site served as a stopping place for First Nations Peoples on their way to and from the Trading Post at Fort Vermillion (established in 1788). Since then, more recent development has centered around forestry, oil & gas and agriculture.

A young, vibrant community of over 3,500, High Level services a trading area of over 22,000 regional residents. Amenities include an airport, bus services, 11 hotels/motels, restaurants, full service gas stations with propane and diesel fuel, an RV dumping station with a private campground located 3km south of town. Recreational facilities include an indoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor hockey rinks, curling rink, municipal library, museum and visitor centre, tennis courts, volleyball courts, several baseball diamonds, beach volleyball courts and the 18 hole Fox Haven Golf and Country club.

Annual events are numerous and varied and include: A Rodeo, Mud Bog, Trade Show, Get to Know You Night, Canada Day Celebrations, Curling Bonspiels, Firemen’s Ball, President’s Ball, Winter Fest, Beer Fest, Newfie Night and many more.

 

High Level a Brief History

High Level was originally a stopping place for trappers on their way to the Hay Lakes and Fort Vermilion for trade dating back to 1788. In those early years many Beaver First Nations People roamed the area. In 1786 fur traders arrived in the area and it wasn’t until 1947 that the first settlers arrived. The High Level Company was started in High Level in 1957 and a year later the Northland Utilities established the first power plant. The first post office was established in 1958 with Jesse Matheson as the first postmaster. For many years High Level was known as Tloc Moi (Hay Meadows). In the early 1960’s the area became popular because of its location in the midst of the new oil and gas pipelines in Rainbow Lake and Zama. The railway came to the area in 1963 and the first hotel was built in 1964, it was torn down in 1997. The development of the railway opened the door to the logging industry, one of High Level’s major industries.

On June 1, 1965, High Level was declared a New Town and has not stopped growing ever since The name High Level was given because of the height of the land that separates the Peace River from the Hay River.

A major factor in the development of High Level was the building of the Mackenzie Highway. Due to poor road conditions, an all weather road was needed. In 1938 – 1939 surveyors marked a cat train route from Grimshaw to Yellowknife. The highway was named after the Mackenzie District, which was named after Alexander Mackenzie. The highway was completed in 1948 and the official opening was scheduled in the spring of 1949. Due to bad road conditions it never did occur. There is little chance of mud stopping traffic these days, the Highway is paved almost in its entirety to Yellowknife. Many tourists travel this scenic highway every year.

High Level is located in the Footner Lake Forest, which is the largest forest in Alberta. It is 29,694 square miles, that’s 19 million hectares of land and half a million hectares of water.

 

Major Industries in the Area?

In 1965, Banff Oil Limited (now Husky Oil) struck oil in the Rainbow Lake area. Further explorations led to the discovery of sites in the Zama Fields in 1967 and in the Virgo Field in 1968. Discovery of these fields led to the construction of the Rainbow Lake pipeline to Edmonton in 1966 and the Peace River pipeline in 1967. The Peace River connection was then purchased by Alberta Gas Trunk lines (now NOVA) in 1971 and converted to a gas line. These two new industries allowed a great influx of business opportunity and an increase in population. In 1965 the population of High Level was just 356 and it jumped to 2,006 in 1968. Today the population of High Level is just over 3,500. Being situated between Rainbow Lake and Zama allows High Level to be the service community of Northern Alberta.

Logging is also a major industry in High Level. With the arrival of the Railroad in 1963 Leo Arsenault decided to begin a logging company. He incorporated North Peace Logging and in August 1964 built the sawmill.
Today the sawmill is owned by Tolko. Tolko has the largest stock pile in North America. Footner Forest Products (an oriented strand board (OSB) plant) opened in October 2000. It was the largest plant of it’s kind in North America. December, 2007 Footner announced it would curtail production indefinitely due to operating losses and reduced customer demand. Now Ainsworth, the OSB plant has announced possible reopening (2013)

Agriculture is a large supporter of the area. The opening of the most northerly grain elevator in 1964 meant grain could be shipped by rail. Prior to 1945/46 grain was shipped by boat, tug, and barge up the Peace River. The very first registered wheat in Alberta was grown in the Peace River District, by Reverend John Gough Brick, on his mission farm along the mighty Peace River. One bushel of wheat produced a record of seventy-two bushels of wheat! This area grows tremendous crops due to our long summer days and ample moisture. The majority of farmland is located east of High Level.

INFORMATION

Location
10803 - 96 Street
High Level
AB

780-926-4811
www.highlevel.ca

Hours
Open Year Round

Winter Hours: Sept - May
Tuesday – Saturday 9am - 4pm

Summer Hours: May - Sept
Monday – Friday 9am - 8pm
Saturday/Sunday/Holidays 10am - 8pm

Visitior Information
Gift Shop
Museum
Picnic Area