History of the Prince Albert Historical Society

The Prince Albert Historical Society is one of the oldest historical societies in Western Canada, first established in 1886 by residents who realized that the previous generation and they themselves were making history by developing Prince Albert and the surrounding region. A fire in 1890 at the Nisbet Academy destroyed the artifacts and records that the Society had collected, which also put an end to the Society for a time.

In 1923 Professor Arthur Morton, the City of Prince Albert and citizens interested in local history reorganized the Historical Society. The Society established a museum in the Nisbet church located in Kinsmen (then Bryant) park and an archive in 1932. The museum was moved to the Prince Albert Court House on Central Avenue in 1946. The Nisbet Church was again established as a museum in 1972 and operated until 1975.

When the Fire Department vacated the original fire hall in 1975 the City of Prince Albert invited the Society to establish a permanent museum in that building. Since 1977 when the permanent museum opened to the public the Prince Albert Historical Society has been based at the appropriately historic original fire hall at 10 River Street East.

The Bill Smiley Archives are named in honour of the man who has done more to preserve Prince Albert history than any other, having spent years collecting and organizing important historical items. Today over 15,000 photographs. 300,000 negatives and 15,000 documents are kept at the Historical Museum. These records are a significant source for information on Prince Albert, the surrounding region and all of Canada. Access to the archives is available to the public and if you are interested in acquiring information please check our archives page.

In 2016, our Society was composed of 105 members and a 12 member volunteer board of directors. Membership fees are currently $20.00 per year. We hold many annual events including the spring Crocus Tea, participate in the downtown Street Fair, Culture Days, and host a Christmas Party. During the summer season a staff of 13 tour guides keeps the museums open while during the rest of the year the museums can visited accompanied with one of our dedicated volunteer members. The Prince Albert Historical Society is committed to preserving local history and being able to showcase it to local residents and visitors alike.