The fonds was donated to the museum in 2012 by staff of the Government of Canada’s Agroforestry Centre, prior to its closure in 2014. From 1901 to 2013, the nursery provided over 650 million tree and shrub seedlings and rooted cuttings (poplar and willow) to the prairie regions of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as the Peace River District of BC for use in farmyard, field and roadside shelterbelts for wind, snow and erosion control. It was the major single employer in Indian Head for most of its existence.
It was previously known as the Shelterbelt Centre, the Tree Nursery and the Forest Nursery Station and belonged, at times, to the Department of the Interior, the Department of Regional and Economic Expansion and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It operated under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) from 1963 to 2008 and under the Agri-Environment Service Branch (AESB) from 2008 to 2013.
The distribution of trees and shrubs for shelter was initiated by Angus MacKay, first superintendent of the Experimental Farm. Because of the rapid increase in demand by farmers, a dedicated Forest Nursery Station was created south of Indian Head.
The fonds contains historic reports, publications, correspondence and documents from 1890 to 1994. All of the items are contained in letter-sized plastic sleeves. The slides are grouped in the cabinet by subject area and by years and are all numbered and titled and indexed in two accompanying binders that are used as a finding aid. Most of the slides are technical in nature (pictures of trees and shrubs, insects, shelterbelts, etc.) but some categories include people who were, in some way, involved in the shelterbelt program.