Discovering Mînî Thnî, Alberta: A Rich Blend of History and Culture
Mînî Thnî, formerly known as Morley, is a First Nations settlement nestled within the Stoney 142/143/144 Indian reserve in southern Alberta, Canada. This settlement, part of the Stoney Nation, is situated along the Canadian Pacific Kansas City railway, between the Trans-Canada Highway and the Bow River, upstream from Ghost Lake. With an elevation of 1,240 metres, Mînî Thnî is located in census division No. 15 and in the federal riding of Wild Rose.
The Historic McDougall Memorial United Church in Mînî Thnî, Alberta
Just a few miles from Mînî Thnî stands the historic McDougall Memorial United Church. Built in 1875, it is southern Alberta's oldest surviving Protestant church and the oldest remaining structure in the Bow Valley. Despite being damaged by fire on May 22, 2017, restoration efforts have almost been completed as of 2021. This church was once part of Morleyville, the oldest pioneer settlement in southern Alberta, and home to its first herd of breeding cattle.
The History of Mînî Thnî, Alberta
The settlement in the Mînî Thnî area began with First Nations. The arrival of the Methodist missionary John McDougall and his wife in 1873 marked the establishment of a missionary outpost in the Bow Valley for outreach to the Nakoda (Stoney) and Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nations. This mission was founded at the request of John's father, George McDougall, the superintendent of Methodist missionary work in Western Canada.
The site John chose was originally called Ghost River, but he renamed it Morleyville in honour of his friend Morley Punshon, an Ontario doctor. The McDougalls began their work by constructing a two-room log shack with a sod roof for themselves and a small church. In 1875, they built a larger church with the help of George McDougall and Andrew Sibbald, a carpenter and teacher.
The Evolution of Mînî Thnî, Alberta
Morleyville's early prominence declined in the 1880s after the Canadian Pacific transcontinental railroad bypassed the settlement. However, the church remained in use until 1921 when it was replaced by a new church located a few miles away at a First Nations settlement that developed around an Indian Agency building. This newer settlement is the present-day Mînî Thnî.
Mînî Thnî, Alberta: A Hub of Innovation
Mînî Thnî has been a site of significant milestones in Canadian history. In 1920, the first airport established by the Canada Air Board was constructed in Mînî Thnî. Known as the Morley Air Station, it was equipped with six Airco DH.9A aircraft used for aerial reconnaissance of Banff National Park, forestry ranging in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, and aerial firefighting.
In 1969, Mînî Thnî hosted the first magistrate's court in Canada to be held in a First Nations owned building located on First Nations land. This marked a significant step in the recognition and respect of First Nations sovereignty in Canada.
Mînî Thnî, Alberta, with its rich history and cultural significance, is a testament to the resilience and innovation of the First Nations people. It stands as a beacon of Alberta's past, present, and future.