Museum & Provincial Heritage Property

The Mossbank Museum is open by appointment only during the off season. Call 306-354-2811 to book group tours or arrange time in the reading room to do research.

 

The Mossbank and District Museum is recognized as one of the best local museums in Saskatchewan. This status is further enhanced by the Ambroz Blacksmith Shop and Residence Provincial Heritage Property, which is an integral part of the Museum.

Ceremony at the Mossbank Museum's Blacksmith Days.

Presentation at the Museum during Blacksmith Days

Built around the former property of Frank and Mary Ambroz, the Museum is a complex of five principal buildings and a grounds featuring several smaller buildings and antique machinery. Frank Ambroz immigrated to Mossbank from Poland in 1926 and in 1928 purchased a Blacksmith Shop, which had been built in 1920. Frank worked in this shop as a Blacksmith until his death in 1986. In 1988, Mary donated the Blacksmith Shop to the Museum, shortly thereafter they moved their operations to the Ambroz’s former residence.

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The Ambroz Blacksmith Shop

The Ambroz Blacksmith Shop is the only remaining blacksmith shop in Saskatchewan that is on its original site and that contains most of its original tools in working condition. The Museum board was able to document these facts and in 2004 and after more than a decade the provincial government agreed to designate the Shop as a Provincial Heritage Property. This designation is very significant as there are only 40 other properties recognized as such in Saskatchewan. Most of these are large expensive buildings built by governments or banks, but the Ambroz Property acknowledges the contributions of ordinary citizens.
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Years prior to the provincial designation, the Museum initiated annual Blacksmith Days on July 1. During this celebration a modern Blacksmith provides demonstrations using Frank’s original equipment. Modern blacksmiths also often participate on other special days and during community events.

The Ambroz residence now houses an extensive collection of antiques and displays from the local area. This includes quilts, wedding dresses, china, furniture and appliances some of which are nearly one hundred years old. The Museum has moved two former one-room schools houses onto the Ambroz property. One showcases the experiences of students and teachers in the early settlement era, while the other highlights the histories of the smaller communities around Mossbank. For the most part these centres, Ardill, Expanse, Mitchelton, Dunkirk, Ettington and Vantage, no longer exist.

Don Fox at the Annual Blacksmith Demonstration. Photo Courtesy of Mark Lowe, Artist in Residence

Arni Olsen stands in front of mural of No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School.

Arni Olafson, a RCAF Pilot who worked with the BCATP in Mossbank in front of the mural of No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School

The fifth structure, the Heritage Building, was built in the 1990s and includes some of the Museum’s largest displays and artifacts. Two large murals dominate the building. The first is an accurate representation of the No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, that was located near Mossbank between 1940 and 1944 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The building stores a large collection of documents from the school as well as some displays of artifacts and uniforms from the base. The second mural represents the prairie around Old Wives Lake. The museum has collected a number of tools used by First Nations peoples around the Lake prior to European contact and these are spotlighted in the Heritage Building. The facility also houses an extensive collection of newspaper articles, artifacts and other materials that document local history. One of the most eye-catching exhibits centres on a small airplane that is suspended from the roof. The plane was designed, built and flown by a local farmer, Cecil Goddard. Goddard built over a dozen different aircraft and flew them all with varying degrees of success. Some of his planes have been displayed in major airports and aviation museums, others, however, crashed with Goddard in them! Amazingly, despite his somewhat shaky flight record, Goddard emerged unscathed from every crash.

Airplane that designed, built and flown by area resident Cecil Goddard.

Cecil Goddard’s airplane

All the museum’s exhibits and artifacts are lovingly maintained by the Museum Committee who dedicate countless hours to their upkeep. The Museum receives support through Saskatchewan Lotteries and the Museum Association of Saskatchewan, but the Museum also depends heavily on local support. Its most famous fundraiser is the annual Apple Pie Day celebration. Apples grown on trees that are part of the original Ambroz property are picked in August and baked into pie by Committee members. Not surprisingly these homemade pies are always a big hit!