Explore Canadian Prairie History At Pembina Threshermen’s Museum In Winkler, Manitoba

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Heritage village street at Pembina Threshermen's Museum in Winkler, Manitoba
A museum in southern Manitoba showcases local agricultural history and Canadian prairie life

The Pembina Threshermen’s Museum in southern Manitoba showcases local agricultural history and Canadian prairie life. In the outdoor heritage village, heritage and replica buildings, dating back to 1878, are full of antiques and period décor. The museum, located in Winkler, also has a large collection of antique farm vehicles and implements.

In 1969 Frank and Willie Loewen donated four acres to the museum. The first building, a large steel hangar used as a kitchen/Dining Hall and for displays, was erected in 1970. In 1972, eight adjoining acres were purchased. Over the next years, the museum acquired a variety of heritage buildings that were moved to the site, constructed other buildings, and obtained a range of artifacts. Today, there are over twenty buildings in the outdoor village and an impressive collection of vintage farm machinery.

Red vintage tractors parked in a row in a field with several hangar type buildings in the background

A few tractors are parked outside. Numerous more are contained in tractor sheds. Most of these have signage with information about the machine.

Man on a vintage tractor pulling a steam engine

A man was driving one of the tractors when I visited the museum. I talked to him briefly. He told me that of the 90 or so tractors in the collection, about 60 are still driveable. Some may not start immediately, he said, because of dead batteries, but they are still in working order. Many are pulled out and driven for special events at the museum.

The museum also has an extensive collection of tools and implements.

Two black vintage automobiles
The collection of vehicles includes vintage automobiles
Weathered white wooden grain elevator at an outdoor museum
Grain elevator from Haskett Manitoba was built in the 1940s
A row of old rusted milk cans
Old milk cans
Sod house with foliage growing up the sides
The sod house is an example of a dwelling often lived in by early Manitoba immigrants
Weathered log house with ramp at side to entry door
The Braun log house is a simple Mennonite home, built in 1885 in the Burwalde area. It would have had an attached barn.
Bedroom inside a log home as per late 1800s
Bedroom inside the Braun log house
Log home kitchen circa late 1880s in a heritage village museum
Ktichen in the Braun Log House

Note that the tape in the above photograph is a recent addition because of COVID-19. Some exhibits are marked off with tape to prevent touching, getting too close, or even being tempted to sit in one of the chairs. Still, most exhibits were quite visible and I didn’t feel short-changed in what I was able to see, although there was one building where the upstairs exhibits were off-limits. In “normal” times this museum offers more access to walk around inside the buildings than many other museums I’ve visited.

Cabinet for kitchen work area in an late 1800s log house
Museum heritage buildings in a row alongside a gravel path

The “village” buildings are located along a gravel road/pathway that runs in a circle. Signage on the outside and inside the buildings provides information about the building, the time period, and even some personal memories.

One-room school
The one-room Pomeroy School was built in 1909 near Roland – it closed in 1954
Inside of an old prairie church
The Roseisle United Church was built in 1891 and is an example of a typical prairie church
Old style barber shop interior
Replica of Peiser’s Barber Shop, which operated in Winkler from the 1930s to the 1990s. Julius Peiser gave shaves for 15 cents and haircuts for 25 cents during the Depression.
Jail cell in a museum log building
Jail in a replica of an 1875 North-West Mounted Police Outpost. The replica building was constructed with logs cut by the museum’s saw mill.
Rusted tractor in front of an old one-story store with an old Esso gas pump
The Haskett Store, build in 1907, was a General Store, a Post Office, and a general meeting place.

The interiors of many of the buildings are decorated to recreate the building’s use at a certain time period. The interiors of others are a combination of that and display space. For example, the Haskett Store is used primarily as a collections shop rather than a basic general store.  Similarly, the Co-op General Store contains an assortment of artifacts. Most of the items are not specifically labelled, but there is a lot to see.

Interior of an old store at a museum with a scale on counter in forefront and rows of shelving containing artifacts
Inside the Haskett Store
Museum collections of items in an old store
Inside the Co-op Store
Wooden one-story building at a heritage village museum
A telephone office and an old post office are displayed inside an old MTS Telephone Building dating to 1948
Rusted old green Canada Post mailboxes
Old mailboxes outside the building
Old white outhouse with much of the paint peeled and worn off
Red train station circa 1905
Morden CPR Train Station

The Morden CPR Train Station was built with a unique design in 1905/06 and was in operation until the late 1960s. On the main level was a freight room, an office, and a waiting room. Upstairs was the Station Agent’s home. The second floor was not open due to COVID-19 when I visited.

Vintage telegraph booth with mannequin in period dress
A display room with various taxidermy animals mounted on walss
Wildlife Exhibit

The Wildlife Exhibit seemed an anomaly. It was not something I expected to find here. The building contains a display of Peter Dyck’s taxidermy collection of local and exotic animals. Peter Dyck was born south of Winkler in 1927. He was an avid hunter and took hunting trips around the world. It was his wish that his collection of mounted animals be donated to the museum when he passed away in 2015.

A carriage meant to be drawn by horses in the hallway of a museum created like a street village
Brimberly Village indoor museum

One building, “Brimberly Village”, contains an early to mid-1900s indoor “street village” with rooms off the centre hallway containing various shops including a laundry, an art gallery, a theatre, a dress shop, and a newspaper office.

Museum exhibit of an old laundromat
Log house built in 1878
Reimer log house built in 1878
Late 1800s dining area in a log house
Inside the Reimer House

It can take anywhere from one to several hours to tour the museum depending on how closely you wish to examine all the artifacts. There is a lot to see here. It is relatively easy to walk through (this is the prairies – the land is flat). The museum has a golf cart they can use to drive someone around the village if requested. If you need this service, I suggest you call ahead to make sure there will be someone available for that when you visit. If you want to see the building interiors you would need to leave the cart and do some walking.

Pembina Threshermen's Museum sign beside a red tractor atop a pole

The Pembina Threshermen’s Museum is located along Provincial Trunk Highway 3 on the south side between Winkler and Morden just west of the Boundary Trails Health Centre. The museum is typically open from mid-May through September.

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Pembina Threshermen's Museum in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada local agricultural history and Canadian prairie life
A museum in southern Manitoba showcases local agricultural history and Canadian prairie life

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  1. Looking at that schoolhouse, I couldn’t help thinking about how hard that would to use during a pandemic. Maybe they had the same problem during the Spanish flu epidemic 100 years ago.

    1. Ken, those one-room schools would be tough to use in a pandemic. I did a little research after reading your comment and many country schools did close for a while during the Spanish flu epidemic. Although we don’t have these one-room schools anymore, class sizes are creating issues for safe back-to-school in our current pandemic.

  2. That’s a pretty impressive museum. I’ve visited a lot of these, but it looks like a stand out not only for the number and variety of items on display, but for the the ‘step back in time’ displays themselves. I wonder if my father got to this museum — the tractors alone would have kept him here for hours if not the whole day, let alone all the other exhibits!

    1. Cindy, my father too would have been enthralled with the tractors. I don’t know if he ever visited the museum, but given that he lived less than an hour away, I suspect he might have.