The Luxton Archives: A Rare Treasure

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Norman K. Luxton, left, circa 1905

Norman K. Luxton, left, circa 1905

Norman K. Luxton’s Free Museum, Spray Avenue, Banff, circa 1907

Norman K. Luxtonís Free Museum, Spray Avenue, Banff, circa 1907

Luxton family and friends, Bear Street, Banff, circa 1905

Luxton family and friends, Bear Street, Banff, circa 1905

Luxton family members, Banff, circa 1905

 Luxton family members, Banff, circa 1905

Left to right: Dora Wilson, Ada Wilson, May McDougall, Bessie Wilson, Lake Minnewanka, circa, 1906

Left to right: Dora Wilson, Ada Wilson, May McDougall, Bessie Wilson, Lake Minnewanka, circa, 1906

From left to right: Louis Luxton, Norman K. Luxton, George Luxton and two of Norman’s Irish Setters, Indian Trading Post, Banff

From left to right:  Louis Luxton, Norman K. Luxton, George Luxton and two of Normanís Irish Setters, Indian Trading Post, Banff

Tilikum at Oak Bay, Victoria, May 20, 1901. In the foreground: Mrs. Voss and family; left to right rear: O.B. Ormand, Norman K. Luxton and J. C. Voss

Tilikum at Oak Bay, Victoria, May 20, 1901. In the foreground: Mrs. Voss and family; left to right rear: O.B. Ormand, Norman K. Luxton and J. C. Voss

A major component of the Luxton legacy is the extensive collection of archival material collected over a lifetime by Eleanor Luxton and left for posterity when she passed away in 1995. Altogether, the collection fills over 25 metres of shelving.

Many of the records that were collected from the Luxton home were inherited from the Luxton and McDougall family files. Much of it is material that has not been available previously to researchers. Some of the papers, dating back to the 1850s, trace the missionary past of the McDougall family from Owen Sound, Ontario to Morleyville, the first settled community in southern Alberta. The Methodist missionaries, George and John McDougall, were the grandfather and uncle of Eleanor.

From her Luxton ancestry is material dating from the early days of the Manitoba (now Winnipeg) Free Press, of which Eleanor’s paternal grandfather, William Fisher Luxton, was co-founder.

The bulk of the records arise from Eleanor’s father, Norman Luxton’s, Banff businesses and activities. Of special interest are the records of Norman’s voyage across the Pacific in the Tilikum, a dug-out canoe fitted with sails, in 1901, and of the return to Canada of a herd of Plains Bison from Montana.

Another major portion of the collection deals with Eleanor Luxton’s career as school teacher, CPR locomotive designer, traveler, lecturer, field worker for the Glenbow foundation, historian, writer and businesswoman.

Nearing the end of her life, she arranged for the creation of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation, with the aim of preserving the history of Banff and the Bow Valley. She envisioned the archives being housed in one of the residences that were part of her estate. When this proved impractical, for reasons of conservation and security, a contract was entered into with the Whyte Museum to store and process her papers.

For current Archives hours, see the Whyte Museum website.

For direct access to the Luxton fonds description click here.