The region’s history is filled with stories of the Indigenous peoples who lived here for thousands of years prior to settlement, as well as the stories of the Métis and their families who operated the Red River cart brigades to supply the fur trade. More recent stories are told by the immigrants who travelled here to begin new lives on the farms and in the towns that sprung up after the railway was built. Traces of these earlier inhabitants exist in our local museums and art galleries, in the outdoor murals on our buildings, on the cairns, and in the ghost buildings that are never far from view.
The Town of Cut Knife was established in 1912, named by the founding fathers after the largest hill in the area, visible to the south. As the story goes, in the 1840s, the Cree and the Tsuut’ina (formerly known as Sarcee) from the Blackfoot Confederacy were fighting to establish supremacy in the area. The invading Tsuut’ina chief, Broken Knife, was defeated but, as retold later by one of the Tsuut’ina warriors, the Cree so admired his fighting skills they named the hill Broken Knife to honour him. Broken Knife eventually became known as Cut Knife in english. This hill was also the location of one of the battles in the 1885 Northwest Resistance from which our street names are derived. Today, this landmark is also referred to as Broken Knife’s Lookout, or as Chief Poundmaker Hill.
Our best recommendation for a deeper dive into the history of the Town of Cut Knife is to visit our very own Clayton McLain Memorial Museum in Tomahawk Park. Part heritage village, part themed displays, and part archives, the CMMM is a proud member of the Museums Association of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists. These organizations provide Saskatchewan’s community museums and archives with access to training in, and resources to assist with, professional protocols for the preservation of artifacts and archival materials.
NEARBY POINTS OF INTEREST
Points-of-interest can be discovered on almost any of the surrounding grid roads. Former townsites, schools, churches, general stores, and cemeteries that played an important role in our history have been marked with cairns, or waymarkers, or roadside signage. The list below is just a small sample of the variety of historic attractions that may be of interest to visitors.
Allen Sapp Gallery, North Battleford
Atton’s Lake: A Summer Meeting Place, online for viewing 24/7
Big Rock Buffalo Rubbing Stone, grid road 787 / Cloan Road, southeast of Rockhaven
Bresaylor Heritage Museum, Highway 16, between Paynton and Delmas
Chief Poundmaker Museum and Historic Site, Poundmaker Cree Nation
Fort Battleford National Historic Site, Battleford
Manitou Pioneers Museum Inc., Neilburg
Mista Muskwa (Big Bear) Monument, Poundmaker Cree Nation
Unity & District Heritage Museum, Unity
Wilkie and District Museum, Wilkie