Al Thorleifson was born and raised in Baldur, Manitoba. He taught high school at Nellie McClung Collegiate in Manitou for decades and retired from teaching in 2011. The realization that rural students had little access to primary archival sources led him to begin working to provide access, for all rural residents, to documents which contain their history. This has led to the development of the Pembina Manitou Archive, an open access digital archive which currently hosts over 53,000 documents from over 100 Manitoba communities. Al negotiated the digitization of the entire collection of documents in the Royal British Columbia Archive's Nellie McClung Fond. Al has also written numerous articles and monographs highlighting events and people from South Central Manitoba. He is currently working with the Boundary Trail National Heritage Region on partnerships with rural museums, the goal being to ensure accessibility of the archival collections of these rural museums.