Museum’s latest exhibits focuses on a sense of fun and adventure

HUMBOLDT — A sense of fun and adventure unites the stories told by the Humboldt and District Museum’s latest set of exhibits.

Stories of Humboldt: Chapter 4 features tales from Humboldt’s beginning in 1903 to 1982.

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The earliest stories feature the German-American Land Company and Fr. Bruno Doerfler, who worked to found Muenster and the St. Peter’s colony.

Doerfler was born in 1866 in Minnesota. Born with the name George, Doerfler followed his brother into the Order of Saint Benedict. He was asked to go to Rome to study canon law, staying there for six years. He travelled across Europe, visiting Bendictine monasteries. He was then selected to go to Canada in 1902 to scout a location for a Catholic colony that would include a new Bendictine monastery.

“They picked him because he proved himself,” said Catherine Harrison, the museum’s culture programmer. “He was young, he proved himself as a good administrator and he had an adventurous spirit.”

Doerfler oversaw the construction of St. Peter’s monastery and cathedral in Muenster, and was instrumental in bringing in the Sisters of St. Elizabeth to the region.

“He was a linchpin, really, for the development of the German Catholic community,” Harrison said.

The abbot died in 1919 at the age of 52.

The Elizabethan sisters also have their own feature in the exhibition.

“Each of the sisters kind of learned how to do embroidery work by making a sampler,” Harrison said. “We have several of the samplers that were still in their collection, and some pictures of the lovely sisters who made them.”

Another adventurous spirit covered is Dr. J.M. Ogilvie.

“He was a doctor here in Humboldt and in the height of his career was during the ’30s and ’40s, when people in the area were having a really, really rough time,” Harrison said. “There was a lot of poverty and a lot of hardship and he was one of those guys that literally took the coat off his back several times and gave it to somebody who didn't have one.”

He had the biggest firewood pile in town, as he was accepting firewood in exchange for medical services.

Ogilvie was a country doctor, and made house calls all over the place.

“He loved to drive and he loved to drive fast,” Harrison said. “He wore out several cars in the course of his career just driving all over the place.”

There’s an exhibit about the Potash Pete Derby, which went from 1979 to 1982. Modeled after Saskatoon’s Louis Riel Relay, the first one was at what’s now called Humboldt Lake.

“The Louis Riel relay is really arduous. It's very intense and very athletic,” Harrison said. “This one was kind of like the beer league version.”

It featured obstacle races, a weighted pack run, a distance run, a speed swim and a canoe race (participants had to bring their own canoe). At the end of the day, there would be lots of dancing, eating and partying.

There are even more exhibits featured, including one about the Humboldt Lions Band, which started in 1951 and ended in the 1970s.

Harrison said the museum is always looking for more stories from the community about local history.

“This is just like the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “It's the conversation starter, so everybody is really always invited to come and share their perspectives, their stories, their photographs and their objects.”

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