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About Sexsmith/History

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The name "Sexsmith” has intrigued all who heard it since Sexsmith came into being in 1916. Sexsmith was actually the second name chosen for our townsite. Originally named, "Bennville” after early 1911 settler J.B. "Benny” Foster, upon whose homestead the townsite was established. The name changed when it was discovered that there was already a town bearing that name. Our town became Sexsmith in honour of David Sexsmith, a trapper and trader who first came into the area in 1898 and set up a stopping place just north of the present town in 1912. Sexsmith reestablished his store and post-office at the present town-site in 1916, the same year the railroad reached here.
 
During the next few years Sexsmith grew by leaps and bounds as businesses of all kinds flourished, such as Bird’s Grocery, MacEwan Hardware, and Weicker Hotel and the population grew accordingly. In 1929 Sexsmith, with a population of 250, was incorporated as a village. Assisting the new babies into the world at that time was the Nightingale of the North, Johanna Haakstad, the renowned midwife who ran the local maternity home.The Sexsmith area, having fertile black soil and easily-cleared, prairie-like land, was among the first districts in the Peace River Country to be completely settled.
 
Consequently, the grain companies built elevators here, beginning in 1917 and peaking when Sexsmith became the Grain Capital of the British Empire in 1949–shipping more grain than any other port in the empire. In June, 2003, the museum society released special License Plate commemorating Sexsmith’s glory days, as well as erecting History Plaques on seventeen historic buildings in Sexsmith.In 1976 the Northen Alberta Rapeseed Plant went into production, employing 80 people and drawing farmers from all over Northern Alberta. Sexsmith achieved town status in 1979. At that time our population was 1,046. Today it has grown to 1,578.
 
This area is one of the largest grain-producing areas in the world and the combination of fertile soil and hard working community-minded people, who have managed to provide excellent education, religious, recreational and cultural facilities and programs, continue to make Sexsmith a great place to live and raise our families.People in the community of Sexsmith wanted to preserve the history of the families of the area and because of this desire, a book "Wagon Trails Grown Over” was published in 1980. Through work on this publication, the Sexsmith to the Smoky Historical Society was born and has since been renamed the Sexsmith and District Museum Society. Next on the Museum Society project list was the restoration of the Nels Johnson Blacksmith Shop which began in 1984 and was complete in July of 1989. Many artifacts are on display and with special arrangements may be demonstrated by our local "Smithy”.
 
In 1990, the Museum Society moved the NAR Station back to its original location and began restoring it. As special events for Chautauqua Day celebrations, community workbees were initiated to build the platform and then another year to build part of a railway spur just the way they used to do it in the olden days. On June 20, 1995, CN Rail donated a caboose to the Society which was placed next to the station. This presentation was another event of Chautauqua Day in which the dignitaries arrived in the actual car coming down the track. In June, 1996, this organization moved an old log barn (donated by Mona Norman) into the Town of Sexsmith and placed it next to the blacksmith shop where there used to be a livery barn in the early years.In the fall of 1996, the Society moved an old log house into the Town (donated by the Paszkow ski family) and it is currently being restored. In 2002, the Society acquired the title to the Frontier Lumber Company and are currently in the process of inventorying the contents and restoring the building.The Museum Society was also very involved in the Downtown Revitalization Project which culminated three years of planning with the restored store fronts that we have today. There are other privately owned buildings that have a historical designation in the Town.
 
A committee is currently being initiated to provide guidelines for any downtown development to be done according to 1920’s and 30’s facades. The Museum Society continues to search for buildings and Tractors to place and restore in our historical downtown.

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