306 Fischer Ave.
The Pas, Manitoba
CA R9A 1K4
Sam Waller Museum
Upon his retirement from teaching in 1958, Sam Waller acquired a pair of small bunkhouses from The Pas Lumber Company and joined them together on a Gordon Avenue property to house his first "Little Northern Museum" The new attraction was popular with both locals and visitors, with over 5,000 names recorded in the guest book in the first eight months of operation. Sam lived on-site, and the Museum was often open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. As testimony to Sam's dedication to the Museum and it's visitors, a Museum sign from that era was occasionally hung on the front door reading "Attendant in Garden".
Sam's ever-expanding collection soon outgrew this modest setting, and in 1970, as a provincial centennial project, the local Rotary Club constructed a larger building to house the Museum and its live-in Curator. Sam was a hospitable guide - a veritable fount of knowledge who even prepared tea and biscuits for his favorite guests. Sam passed away in 1978, by which time the Town of The Pas had taken over administration of the Museum.
Since that time the Museum has continued to grow and evolve under the direction of a number of staff, the most notable of whom was Paul Thistle, a long-serving Curator who oversaw the renovation of The Pas Court House and Community Building into a purpose-designed, climate controlled museum building, and the subsequent move of the Museum's encyclopedic holdings into the new facility.
Today, as a community museum, our collection mandate is focused primarily on artifacts and archival materials that are significant to the local region. The collection not only includes the strange and bizarre, but is also a unique and important record of the natural and cultural history of The Pas and surrounding area.
The Pas is a town in Manitoba, Canada, located at the confluence of the Pasquia and the Saskatchewan rivers, at Saskin Division No. 21, Manitoba in the Northern Region. It is approximately 630 kilometres northwest of the provincial capital, Winnipeg, and about 40 kilometres from the border of Saskatchewan.
Known as "The Gateway to the North", The Pas is a multi-industry northern Manitoba town serving a district population of over 15,000 (including the Opaskwayak Cree Nation). The main components of the region's economy are agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing, tourism, transportation, and services (especially health and education). The main employer is a paper and lumber mill operated by Tolko Industries. The Pas contains one of the two main campuses of the University College of the North.
The Pas is bordered by the Rural Municipality of Kelsey, as well as part of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
The museum is a department of the Town of The Pas; however, it is governed by a Board of Directors that are appointed by the town council. Staff report to the Board but rely on the connection with the Town for many day-to-day activities. The Museum Director handles the institution as a whole with the Museum Curator & Archivist reporting to the Director.
The Sam Waller Museum serves to collect, preserve and interpret our community's heritage for visitors to explore and appreciate. The Sam Waller Museum also serves as the archival repository for the records of the Town of The Pas and private manuscript materials of enduring significance.
The Sam Waller Museum is housed in The Pas Court House and Community Building. Constructed in 1916, this building reflected Manitoba's faith in the "New North" and the strategic importance of The Pas as a regional centre. The town was named the seat of the Northern Judicial District in 1916, four years after the province's boundary was extended to the 60th parallel, to include this region.
George Nelson Taylor, the first architect in The Pas, designed the Court House building for the new District. It was unique among Manitoba court houses as it had an upper story used exclusively as a public assembly hall, separate from the main floor court room and judicial offices. Completed in 1917, it became the centre for the town's social activities. The lower level of the building contained jail cells and living quarters for the Chief of Police and his family. Throughout the years the interior of the building was reconfigured to suit the changing needs of the community.
The building closed after new court facilities opened in 1982. With strong local support, the building was acquired by the town from the provincial government, and in 1991 it was designated as a Provincial Heritage Site by the Province of Manitoba.
Following a massive renovation and retrofit of the building the Sam Waller Museum open in 1992. There are three levels with two permanent galleries, a temporary gallery and a library on the main floor. The lower level houses displays, a multi-purpose room called the Rotary Room, bathrooms, the Children's Discovery Centre and the original female jail cells. The top level contains a small display area, the main onsite storage room and offices.
Today the prominent town landmark retains it's authentic exterior, and many of its original interior elements. It is the oldest standing brick building in northern Manitoba, and, as an important part of the region's heritage.
The Museum is open year-round, 7 days a week, except Statutory Holidays (Open Canada Day & August Civic Holiday).
Regular Hours: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Extended Summer Hours:
(July & August) 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Please e-mail or phone to make an appointment to see archival holdings.
Disability access to the Museum is available through our 3rd Street entrance, with a lift that provides access to all three levels. Please ring the bell by the 3rd Street entrance or call ahead to notify staff of disability access requirements.
If you are out of town and have a research request for the curator, please contact us and we'd be happy to help! In order for staff to conduct research for you based on our holdings, there is a $20 service fee for the first hour of research and $15 per each additional hour. Due to staff time constraints, researchers may be referred to a local student or researcher if the request will involve a significant investment of time.
There is a $10 flat fee plus gst for all reproduction requests.
Photocopying in addition to 25 cents per 8 1/2 x 11 page, 35 cents per 8 1/2 x 14 page, and 50 cents per 11 x 17 page.
Photo reproductions vary , please email the Museum Curator for more information.
Created June 1, 2011
Revised September 27, 2022