White Bear Lake Area

Historical Society

Learning From Our Past, Preserving For Our Future

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The Depot Gift Shop specializes in items specific to the White Bear area including gifts with bears, sailing and historical motifs. Some of our best sellers include:


Looking Back at White Bear Lake: A Pictorial History of the White Bear Lake Area

By Cynthia E. Vadnais

Available for $39.50 + $5.00 shipping and handling

Watch for Upcoming Book Signing!

  • White Bear Christmas Ornaments
  • Books of local history
  • Boat-themed linens
  • Reproductions of Historic photos and maps

An original of this 1908 plat map of White Bear Lake is at the Fillebrown House—own your own now for just $38 per print!
$5 S&H fee applies for mail orders.


All About White Bear Lake -our best selling book in the gift shop—is a snapshot of White Bear in 1890 originally published by the local newspaper editor and features etchings of the area resorts, a listing of businesses and tidbits about the town.

Available for $5 plus tax.

$2 S&H fee applies for mail orders.

Depot Gift Shop is Open:

Tues. - Fri. 10am-4pm

Sat. 10am-1pm




Father Joseph Goiffon: A Tale of a French Missionary

Father Joseph Goiffon: A Tale of a French Missionary is an English translation of Father Goiffon’s 1908 autobiography edited by Duane Thein. It describes what happened to the Catholic priest and missionary in the winter of 1860 and 1861 when he was returning from St. Paul, Minnesota, to his two parishes in the Red River Valley. Father Goiffon tells of the events surrounding his being caught in a snowstorm, being rescued, the amputation of his leg and foot, and the fire at the St. Boniface Cathedral in Canada.

The book contains forty photographs, maps, and graphics, and three appendixes. The first appendix is a brief history of all the locations mentioned in the autobiography. The second appendix is translated letters of Bishop Taché, Father Mestre, and Sister Curran giving their account of Father Goiffon’s adventures. The third appendix is a brief genealogy of the Goiffon family. The entire book is fully indexed.

Father Joseph Goiffon was born March 3, 1824 in France He immigrated to Minnesota in 1857 to be a missionary priest. In 1858 Father Ravoux, administrator of the St. Paul Diocese, sent Father Goiffon to serve in the Red River Valley at St. Joseph (Walhalla) and Pembina; today both towns are in North Dakota.

Father Goiffon, during his career in the St. Paul Diocese, also served the parishes of Little Canada, Centerville, White Bear Lake, Rice Lake (today part of Lino Lakes) Moundsview, and Mendota, all in Minnesota, and for a brief time Somerset, Wisconsin. In 1909 Father Goiffon went to live with his nephew in Oneka Township, Minnesota, sometimes helping out at the Hugo church. He died May 6, 1910, in Oneka Township, Minnesota.

Through his dedication to this project of more than twenty years and his thorough research, Thein has provided this community with a more complete picture of the experiences of Father Goiffon that have spawned legends. This work sets the record straight on the stories perpetuated by generations and allows the subject’s recollections and additional resources to clear the confusion. In addition, those who still worship at the parishes created by Father Goiffon now have a greater understanding of his intense missionary spirit and the power of his faith.

Father Joseph Goiffon: A Tale of a French Missionary is an excellent addition to the existing documents of our area’s rich history. The book is available at the Historical Society’s Depot Gift Shop for $19.75. For more information please call Sara at 651-407-5327.

Books from the Depot Gift Shop are available for purchase from a distance. Place your order via mail with a check or credit card number or over the phone with a credit card and we will ship your selection right out. Shipping and handling fees do apply and vary by item. For more information, please contact Sara at 651-407-5327.

Books Available:

Local History and Authors include:

  • Looking Back at White Bear Lake: A Pictorial History of the White Bear Lake Area
Cynthia E. Vadnais
  • The Nisei Soldier
Edwin M. Nakasone
  • John O. Johnson From Norway to White Bear Lake
John W. Johnson
  • White Bear’s Home Town Heroes: The Story of the White Bear Lake
    Volunteer Fire Department 1888-2002
Peter Reis
  • Krumkake
White Bear Center for the Arts
  • All About White Bear Lake
A. H. S. Perkins
  • Confessions of An 80-Year-Old Boy
Stan Hill
  • Almost Immortal
Stan Hill
  • Little Crow
Gary Clayton Anderson
  • Chippewa Customs
Frances Densmore
  • Through Dakota Eyes
Gary Clayton Anderson & Alan R. Woolworth
  • History of the Ojibway People
William W. Warren
  • The Manitous
Basil Johnston
  • The Prehistoric Peoples of Minnesota
Elden Johnson
  • Paddlewheels on the Upper Mississippi
Nancy & Robert Goodman
  • Lost Twin Cities
Larry Millett
  • The Story of Minnesota’s Past
Rhoda R. Gilman
  • Cass Gilbert: The Early Years
Geoffrey Blodgett
  • John Dillinger Slept Here
Paul Maccabee
  • A History of Minnesota Vol. I
William Watts Folwell
  • A History of Minnesota Vol. II
William Watts Folwell
  • A History of Minnesota Vol. III
William Watts Folwell
  • Minnesota in a Century of Change
Clifford E. Clark, Jr.
  • Minnesota, Real and Imagined
Stephen R. Graubard
  • The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers
Richard Moe
  • Icy Pleasures: Minnesota Celebrates Winter
Paul Clifford Larson
  • Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood
Betsy J. Green
  • Our Ancestors in History: The Pilgrim, the Patriot and the Yankee...
Paul Ackerman
  • Looking Back-A Memoir
Paul Ackerman


  • A Northern Land, Living with the Ojibwe
Howard Paap
  • Father Joseph Goiffon: A Tale of a French Missionary
Edited by Duane Thein
  • Minnesota Vacation Days: An Illustrated History
Kathryn Strand Koutsky & Linda Koutsky


Voices of the Village: A History of Birchwood Village 19:50
The Mahtomedi Story: Tales and Trails of a Minnesota Original 22:00
Sail Away to White Bear Lake 10:00
$ 9.99

Prices do not include Minnesota sales tax of 6.5 %.

E-mail: Sara Markoe Hanson at WBLAHISTSOC@GoldenGate.net

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