Planes, Trains and Automobiles?

RETROactive is all about Alberta’s historic places. But what is a historic place: is it a home, a commercial building, a church or a baseball diamond? Could planes, trains or automobiles be historic places? The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada defines a historic place as, “a structure, building, group of buildings, district, landscape, archaeological site or other place in Canada that has been formally recognized for its heritage value.” Does this mean any place in Alberta could be a historic place?

Not quite. For a place to be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places something must be  designated as a Provincial Historic Resource or a Municipal Historic Resource and  must meet one of the following significance criteria:

  • Theme / Activity / Cultural Practice / Event – a place directly associated with a theme, activity, cultural practice or event that has made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of provincial or municipal history.
  • Institution / Person – a place directly associated with a significant institution or with the life of a significant person in the province’s or municipality’s past.
  • Design / Style / Construction – a place displaying distinctive characteristics of a type, style, period or method of construction, or representing the work of a master, or expressing high artistic values.
  • Information Potential – a place yielding, or likely to yield, information important to a municipality’s or the province’s history, prehistory or natural history.
  • Landmark / Symbolic Value – a place particularly prominent or conspicuous, and that has acquired special visual, sentimental or symbolic value that transcends its function. A landmark contributes to the distinctive character of the province or municipality.

Note: The Historical Resources Act limits Municipal Historic Resource designation to real property. This means that while the province can designate a plane, train or an automobile, municipalities may only designate land and “immovables” (meaning buildings and other things permanently affixed to land). For additional information please see: Evaluating Historic Places and Designating Municipal Historic Resources.

So do historic places in Alberta include planes, trains and automobiles? I have searched the Alberta Register of Historic Places and this is what I have uncovered:

Planes: Hangar #14, Edmonton Municipal Airport

Hangar #14 is significant, “as a rare surviving Canadian example of hangar design from the World War Two period and as a symbol of Canada’s wartime experience.” It is also significant, “for its association with Wilfred R. May, one of Edmonton’s most significant aviation figures and the 418 City of Edmonton Squadron.” Hangar #14 is designated as both a Municipal Historic Resource and a Provincial Historic Resource.

Trains: Canadian National Railways Steam Locomotive 6060

The 6060 Locomotive (pictured above) is significant, “as an excellent representation of a late-era steam locomotive.” The engine currently services the Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions line, which runs between Stettler and Big Valley. It is designated as a Provincial Historic Resource.


Do you have any suggestions? Approximately 700 historic places are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Search the register to discover one that is associated with automobiles. Let us know what you find by submitting a comment at the bottom of this post.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

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