River­hurst Mu­seum ex­hibits ri­fle made by lo­cal gun­smith

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

A ri­fle in the F. T. Hill Mu­seum in River­hurst con­nects the com­mu­nity with a lo­cal well-known gun­smith.

The ri­fle is a Peter­son, made by lo­cal farmer Al Peter­son. “They are a hard gun to get,” says mu­seum cu­ra­tor Judy Miller. “No­body wants to part with a Peter­son ri­fle. “One fea­ture mak­ing these ri­fles dif­fer­ent is the left hand bore in the bar­rel.

“It makes them much more ac­cu­rate. The bounce you get when you fire comes to­ward the cheek, not away from it like other guns.”

Peter­son started re­pair­ing guns in 1952, when poor health forced him to quit farm­ing.

“I’m told hunters from the U.S. would come here, buy a gun and have him do the bar­rel,” Miller said.

His re­pair work ex­tended to mak­ing cus­tom ri­fles on the Ri­fle Ranch. He made hun­dreds of guns, even­tu­ally spe­cial­iz­ing in bar­rels.

“I haven’t been able to con­firm it, but I heard he put to­gether a lathe the wrong way and that’s how he got the left hand bore,” said Miller.

Peter­son had a rep­u­ta­tion for do­ing things dif­fer­ently. He died in 1996

The gun is one in a large col­lec­tion of long guns and hand guns in the mu­seum.

Lo­cal news­pa­per pub­lisher F.T Hill sold his ex­ten­sive col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing guns to the vil­lage for a mu­seum. Other col­lec­tions have since been do­nated. “Peo­ple can’t be­lieve what a gun col­lec­tion we have here.”

The col­lec­tion is se­curely locked away with alarm sys­tems.

The wall with hand­guns in­cludes old flint­lock pis­tols, re­volvers, for­eign guns, der­ringers and a gam­bler’s cane pis­tol.

A large col­lec­tion of ar­row­heads and sim­i­lar ar­ti­facts has been cat­a­logued by the uni­ver­sity. The area is rich in ar­ti­facts. The last great tribal bat­tle in Saskatchewan was fought near here.

A col­lec­tion of rocks and di­nosaur bones awaits cat­a­logu­ing.

Spe­cial dis­plays in­clude one ded­i­cated to Harry Brice, a lo­cal Scout mas­ter still in­volved in his 80s, mod­els of early Main Street, and mod­els of old farm­ing im­ple­ments. A bed with in­ter­twined ropes that hold the per­son is fea­tured. “We’re dif­fer­ent from most mu­se­ums,” says Miller. “We’re hands on. We let the kids touch things.” A col­lec­tion of Hill’s news­pa­pers The Weekly Courier, from 1913-1962 is also pre­served.

Miller and her hus­band Wayne re­tired to River­hurst from White Rock, B.C.. He wanted to live near his birth place of Moose Jaw.

Both are vol­un­teers in the com­mu­nity of 87.

“I fell in love with the mu­seum” and be­came cu­ra­tor three years ago.

“I had never been in­volved in mu­se­ums. I used to be credit man­ager for an avi­a­tion com­pany.”

While the mu­seum is open in sum­mer Miller also does tours in the off-sea­son. Call 306-353-0014.

Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net

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