A Recipe for Success: Planning, Procedures and Policies

The Holden Cenotaph with the Globe Lumber Company Building. Both resources were evaluated for the Municipal Heritage Inventory project completed in 2011.

The Village of Holden, located an hour southeast of Edmonton on Highway 14 with a population of 400, is developing a Municipal Heritage Management Plan. In 2011 the Village completed a combined Municipal Heritage Survey and Inventory but decided that before proceeding with the designation of Municipal Historic Resources it would be best to have a “recipe” for establishing a successful local heritage conservation program.

Throughout 2012, Village staff and the Holden Heritage Resources Committee will be working with a heritage consultant to develop a plan appropriate to the Village’s needs and objectives. Elements of the plan will include:

  • a template bylaw for Municipal Historic Resource designations;
  • a policy outlining the designation process and eligibility requirements;
  • a terms of reference for the Holden Heritage Resources Committee (i.e. vision, mission);
  • a procedure for reviewing requests to alter Municipal Historic Resources;
  • a review of potential incentives (monetary and non-monetary) that the Village may offer to owners of Municipal Historic Resources; and
  • an assessment of other municipal planning documents to see how heritage might be integrated with land-use and  Village programs and services.

Over the course of this project, the greater community will also be engaged. Feedback from residents will be imperative for ensuring that the Heritage Management Plan appropriately serves the interests of residents and thereby conserves the valued places that make Holden a unique community.

Stay tuned throughout the year for updates on this project!

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Alequiers Ranch House, near Longview

During the latter part of the 19th century, the foothills of what is now southern Alberta were given over largely as grazing leases to several big ranching companies, many of them with close ties to the Conservative Party.  With the election of the Liberal party in 1896 however, more emphasis came to be placed on settling the West with small, independent farmers.  Under Interior Minister Clifford Sifton therefore, many grazing leases, when expired, were not renewed, in order that the land could be subdivided into quarter-sections for homesteading, or given over to the CPR Land Department.

Among the many homesteaders to flock into the region during the turn of the 20th century were Nellie and Alexander Weir who, in July 1900, filed for SE18 TP18 R3 W5, on the east bank of the Highwood River, some 20 km northwest of High River.  This was on land previously occupied by the North-West Ranch Company.  The Weirs were from Ontario, and, like many of the new settlers, they combined dryland farming with cattle raising.  In May 1905, Alexander Weir received title to his land, and, in February 1906, the High River Times reported that he was erecting a new 26’ x 26’ log home on his ranch.

The Weirs never owned more than one single quarter-section of land, and, with grain prices declining during the early 1900’s, they probably found it difficult to make ends meet.  At the time, their property was surrounded by a large ranch owned by George Lane, which consisted of several sections.  At any rate, as soon as Weir gained title to his quarter, he mortgaged it to the Fairchild Company of Winnipeg.  Two years later, the Fairchild Company became owners of the land, while Weir apparently drifted off to some other form of employment.  Shortly thereafter, the western portion of the quarter-section was sold to an Italian immigrant named George Pocaterra, who turned it into a dude ranch called the Buffalo Head Ranch.  The eastern portion, which held Weir’s house, was acquired by an English immigrant named Owen Royal, who seems to have had business interests in Calgary.  It was Royal who upgraded the house, adding three bedrooms, a kitchen and a porch, while landscaping the yard and planting trees.  Royal named it Alequiers, a name derived from the spelling of Alex McQueen Weir.

In 1939, the Alequiers property was acquired by an artist named Ted Schintz.  Schintz had migrated to western Canada from Holland in the 1920’s, taking odd jobs and cultivating his skills as a painter.  In 1928, he stayed at the Buffalo Head Ranch and developed an affinity for the foothills environment.  In 1931, he married Jeanette Kay from England, and the couple stayed for a while at Algequiers before traveling to Europe.  While the couple took odd jobs, Ted enrolled in the Academy of Arts in Munich, studying under Angelo Yank.  Upon his graduation, the Schintzes returned to western Canada, and, soon, Ted began to sell his paintings at reasonably high prices, mostly to magazines like Country Guide and Cattleman, which were interested in images of the prairie West.  Jeanette was also able to sell some of her work.  Finally, in 1939, the couple had sufficient means to purchase Alequiers, where they lived until retiring to High River in the 1960’s.

The Alequiers Ranch House was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2005.  Its historical significance lies in its provision of structural evidence of the homesteading experience on the southern foothills of Alberta after the break-up of many of the large ranches that had dominated the area.  The expanded house of about 1920 is also important as the showpiece home of Owen Royal and, more importantly, the artist Ted Schintz, many of whose works have graced magazine covers with images of the southwestern plains of Canada, and several of which are stored in the Glenbow Museum.

Written by: David Leonard, Historian

Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Alequiers Ranch House. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Alequiers Ranch House.

Meet the Names Guy

For all of you looking forward to learning something new about the wonderful and exciting world of geographical names, you may be disappointed by this post. Today you get to learn about me.

Taking the cue from two of my colleagues (Carlo Laforge and Michael Thome), who have introduced themselves in their own introductory posts; I have elected (been pressured) to do the same.

My name is Ronald Kelland, but most people call me Ron (actually, my family calls me Ronnie, but please don’t do that). I started working for the Government of Alberta on December 1, 2007 as an intern with Athabasca University’s Heritage Resources Management Program. While taking online classes with the university, I did research and some administrative tasks for the Historic Places Designation Program. This mainly consisted of researching the history of buildings and other cultural sites for designation as Provincial Historic Resources. Most of my duties consisted of writing Statements of Significance for these resources to explain why they are valued. Of the ones I have written, my favourite ones are the Canadian National Railways Locomotive 6060, the Northern Defence Radar Station near Cold Lake, and the Sunnyslope Sandstone Shelter (say that five time real fast!) near Three Hills. In July 2009, I left the intern program and became a proud member of the public service. It was at this time that I also became the Coordinator of the Geographical Names Program. In this position I research the origin and meaning of Alberta’s place names and I evaluate proposed new names for geographical features and advise the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation in their deliberations and decision-making on these names.  I also maintain the Alberta Geographical Names Database and other records about Alberta’s naming heritage. In December 2010, I assumed the role of primary historian for the Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum, researching the history of the house and the Rutherford family and using this information to aid in developing interpretive displays.

Prior to my current job, I worked for the Alberta Legislature Library. I was a researcher and writer for the book The Mantle of Leadership: Premiers of the North-West Territories and Alberta, 1897-2005, part of The Centennial Series (a four-volume set of books published by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta). Once that project wrapped-up, I worked as a researcher and report writer for the Committees of the Legislative Assembly, primarily the Public Accounts Committee and the Standing Committee on Government Services.

I was born in St. John’s and I still feel a strong connection to Newfoundland. I was raised in Alberta (primarily Red Deer) and have a great appreciation of the heritage and history of this province. I have been able to use my connection to both Newfoundland and Alberta to great advantage, successfully completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of Calgary in 1998 (for which I concentrated on Western Canadian history) and a Master of Arts degree in History at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2001 (for which I concentrated on Newfoundland’s history). Apparently one graduate degree was not enough to satisfy me, so I entered the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta, which I completed in 2010.

In my personal life I am married to an incredibly patient and understanding woman (I think that one has to be patient and understanding to be married to a historian – we do tend to go on about our work and research). We have three great kids (a five year old boy and three year old twin girls), making us a very happy, but very busy family. In my spare time I like to read (voraciously), cook (reasonably well), sing (badly) and play computer games (probably too much). I also build model cars and planes and am about to embark on a model railroading project in my garage (if it ever warms up again).

Back at my job, my priorities over the next year are to begin travelling the province more and meeting with local history groups and societies, spreading (and hopefully receiving) information about Alberta’s place names. I am also working on making the Alberta Geographical Names Database publicly available through the internet.

I welcome any inquiries about our province’s place names. So, if you ever wanted to know why we call that lake, creek, mountain or whatever by such-and-such a name, or if you are interested in proposing a name for a geographical feature, please feel free to get in touch with me or drop a comment into our blog. I hope that I will hear from many of you over the upcoming months.

Ron Kelland

Updated Website, Funding Guidelines and Application Forms

As you may recall, changes to the funding policies of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Heritage Preservation Partnership Program will be adopted beginning the next application deadline, February 1, 2012.   These changes, along with updated and improved application forms for all grant categories, are now available. Click here.

Changes include:

  • grant ceiling of $100,000 for Provincial Historic Resources per application for conservation;
  • limiting applications to one application for conservation and one application for architectural/engineering studies/reports/plans per historic resource per calendar year;
  • stronger policies on retroactive funding for conservation grants;
  • second deadline for the Roger Soderstrom and Heritage Trades Scholarships of October 1st ;
  • significant changes on funding parameters for the Roger Soderstrom and Heritage Trades Scholarships.

If you need further information, please call 780-431-2305.

Written by: Carina Naranjilla, Grants Program Coordinator.

MHPP Funding Deadlines (2012)

The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) provides cost-shared funding opportunities to Alberta municipalities for the identification, evaluation and management of local historic places. Municipal Heritage Services staff are also available to provide guidance and training to Alberta municipalities to enable successful identification and conservation of local historic places.

Funding proposals from municipalities are accepted on an on-going basis. These proposals are then reviewed by the board of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.

2012 MHPP funding deadlines:

  • February 3, 2012
  • April 13, 2012
  • September 21, 2012
  • November 2, 2012 

If you would like to learn more about MHPP funding opportunities, or discuss project ideas please contact MHPP staff.

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation also supports a range of community and individual heritage initiatives through the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Brrrrr… Oh, wait! It isn’t that cold!

Sitting at my desk enjoying the sun streaming in through the window, I can’t help but wonder what Eda Owen would think about the unseasonably warm winter we are experiencing. Who is Eda Owen, you ask? Working out of the Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station in Edmonton, Owen was a pioneering meteorologist serving from 1915 to 1943. She was one of only a small number of female meteorologists working at weather stations throughout the world.

The Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1994, in part, because of its association with Eda Owen. On the Alberta Register of Historic Places, the Statement of Significance says:

In 1908, Eda and Herbert William Owen emigrated from London to Edmonton. After a number of temporary employments in his new home, Herbert accepted a position as an assistant in the Dominion government’s Meteorological Office. In 1913, the weather office was moved into the Owen residence in the Highlands neighbourhood. Wartime exigencies prompted both Owen and his supervisor, Captain S. M. Holmden, to enlist in 1915 for active service overseas. In their absence, Eda Owen, who had learned the arts of reading navigational charts and employing scientific instruments from her husband, took over meteorological duties at the Highlands station. Herbert never returned home, dying in a prisoner of war camp in Europe. Though overcome by grief, Eda continued her work at the station. In 1921, following a brief spell as an assistant meteorologist, she was formally named Provincial Agent and Weather Observer for Alberta by the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries. Her work was incredibly demanding. The Highlands station was arguably the most significant meteorological post outside of Toronto. Eda was required to take hourly readings from 36 different instruments throughout the day and compile reports from over 140 stations in the region. The information she amassed had wide currency, being circulated to forest rangers, aviators, agriculturalists, as well as radio and newspaper personnel. For most of her service from 1915 until she resigned her post in 1943, Eda was the only woman employed as an observer at a major Canadian meteorological station. Indeed, she was one of only a handful of woman meteorologists at major stations in the world at the time. As a result of her trailblazing work, she garnered international acclaim. MacLeans, the Toronto Star Weekly, and the Christian Science Monitor all featured Eda in their pages, hailing the “Weather Woman of the West” as a pioneer in a scientific field largely dominated by men.

What would Owen think of our warm winter? We will never know, but I would like to think that between readings from the 36 meteorological instruments she would have found time to enjoy the warm spring-like conditions.

To read the complete Statement of Significance, please click here.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Designation Policy: Does Your Municipality Have One?

Many municipalities will designate a Municipal Historic Resource without first developing a designation policy. The Historical Resources Act does not specify how municipalities must evaluate places for Municipal Historic Resource designation. Municipal Historic Resource designation bylaws are passed in a slightly different way than a bylaw is normally considered, but otherwise each municipality is allowed to define how it will protect its historic resources. (To learn more about designating Municipal Historic Resources read Managing Historic Places: Designation Guide, which can be downloaded from the publications section of the MHPP website).

How should your municipality respond to a request from a member of the public to protect a historic resource? By developing a policy that describes how the municipality will use its power to designate Municipal Historic Resources. A place should not be designated unless it is in the public interest to do so, and a good designation policy will help determine when that is the case. A good designation policy will explain:

  • What the purpose of the Municipal Historic Resource designation program is, specifically explaining what types of places the municipality is willing to protect and why.
  • Who is allowed to nominate places for designation.
  • What information a nominator needs to provide.
  • How the municipality will evaluate a proposed designation, including who is responsible for evacuating the proposal (like a Heritage Advisory Board) and what information council needs to make a decision.

A written policy that answers these questions will help protect significant sites while reducing the time and effort needed to evaluate designation proposals. A good policy lets nominators know what types of sites the council is willing to evaluate, what they are willing to protect and what information they need to provide. A good policy will make for a transparent and fair nomination process.

For more information on creating a designation policy or other heritage management planning activities, please consult the publications section of the MHPP website, or contact Municipal Heritage Services staff.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Cypress Club, Medicine Hat

As the Canadian Pacific Railway was planning its route between Winnipeg and Fort Calgary, the decision was made to cross the South Saskatchewan River at a wide valley west of Fort Walsh lush with cypress trees.  Here a station was erected and a townsite subdivided called Medicine Hat after a Cree medicine man.  The surrounding district was soon the domain of numerous ranches, and, during the 1890’s, Medicine Hat emerged as the regional metropolis of a cattle domain.  In 1898, it was incorporated as a town with over 500 people.  By this time, gas reserves were discovered in the district and incentive was provided for industrial development, particularly in pottery.  In the meantime, the city’s streets came to glow from gaslight.  By 1906, Medicine Hat was large enough to be incorporated as a city.  By 1911, its population stood at 5,600.  Contributing to its growth was its comparative isolation, and the conversion of much of the surrounding ranching leases into farmland, which resulted in the emergence of a large farming population in the hinterland.

Though the surrounding countryside and growing urban population of Medicine Hat was ethnically mixed, the business elite of the community was primarily British.  The first ranchers had been mainly British, and the new wave of industrialists and real estate developers were also of British origin, primarily immigrants from Ontario.  It was natural therefore that the first City Councils would often contain the same people as the Chamber of Commerce, with names such as Fewings, Tweed, Cousins, Crawford, Milne, Pingle, Sissons, Kealy, Huckvale and Stewart predominating.  It was probably also natural that such people would found a social club, where affairs of common interest could be discussed with less formality and out of the public eye.  Thus, on 21 November 1903, the Cypress Club was incorporated by an act of the Legislative Assembly of the North-west Territories.  Like the Edmonton Club and Ranchman’s Club (Calgary) before it, the Cypress Club was intended to provide a retreat for local business and community leaders to plot the development of the community in an atmosphere of brotherhood and congeniality.  A great incentive was the authority such a private club would have to obtain a liquor license and so provide intoxicants to its members at any time it chose.  As was typical, membership was confined to men.

Three of the first six presidents of the Cypress Club, F.L. Crawford, William Cousins and Charles Pingle, would also be presidents of the Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce at roughly the same time, while numerous others would also be members of City Council.  To expand its scope, the Club also encouraged membership among the more prominent of the local ranch owners, and also the professional classes, particularly lawyers.  The first president was F. L. Crawford, the manager of the Bank of Commerce, but the tradition would soon be established that the presidency should alternate between City businessmen and district ranchers.

Members of the Cypress Club first met in the Cousins Block in downtown Medicine Hat.  As membership soared, and the Club quickly evolved into the elite social club of the business community, there was incentive and resources to construct a self contained building.  In 1907 therefore, the Club purchased the lot on 218 – 6th Avenue SE in the downtown core and contracted the prominent local architect, William T. Williams, to design a small, but elegant structure of red brick and sandstone to serve exclusively the functions of the Club, or whatever other purpose the Club would choose.  A deal was struck with the Bank of Commerce which gave the Bank the front half of the property on Main Street, while the Club building itself was to be built on the back part, within easy walking distance for most of the local businessmen.  When the design of the $15,000 building was complete, A.P. Burns was contracted to begin construction.  This was done through a loan from Hop Yuill, who would be repaid over the years from membership dues and fundraising activities.

As time passed, the Cypress Club continued to serve the business and professional elite of Medicine Hat and its surrounding district as a men’s social club.  During World War II, it was turned over to the Empire Club for use by armed service personnel stationed in the district.  Occasional internal renovations would occur, and, at times, financing was precarious, but, invariably, members from the business community would come to the rescue with loans.  Members over the years would include most of Medicine Hat’s mayors and members of City Council, several of the districts Members of the provincial Legislative Assembly, and Members of Parliament William Wylie, Bud Olson and Bert Hargrave.  Other members to gain a strong reputation outside the district of Medicine Hat include Judge John Sissons and Edmonton Journal editor Andrew Snaddon.

In 2002, the Cypress Club was designated a Provincial Historic Resource.  Its historical significance lies in its service as the main social club for men in the city and district of Medicine Hat since its inception in 1903.  

Written by: David Leonard, Historian

Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Cypress Club. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Cypress Club.

Provincial Historic Resource Project Approvals – Why you need them!

Since I started my new post as a Heritage Conservation Adviser for the Edmonton Region, I have occasionally needed to write up project approvals for interventions occurring at a Provincial Historic Resource. Sometimes these projects were already underway or even completed. There are a number of reasons why project approvals should be issued before work occurs on or within the designation boundaries of a Provincial Historic Resource, including:

1. It’s the LAW!  Not to scare anyone, but it’s true. Section 20(9) and (10) of Alberta’s Historical Resources Act states:

(9) Notwithstanding any other Act, no person shall destroy, disturb, alter, restore, repair any historic resource or land that has been designated under this section (i.e. Provincial Historic Resource), or remove an historic object from an historic resource that has been designated under this section, without the written approval of the Minister. (10) The Minister, in the Minister’s absolute discretion, may refuse to grant an approval under subsection (9) or may make the approval subject to any conditions the Minister considers appropriate.

Please note: owners of Municipal Historic Resources must obtain approval from their municipal council (or its designate) prior to completing any work that will “destroy, disturb, alter, restore or repair” the designated property. See Section 26(6) of the Historical Resources Act for detailed information. With any questions, please contact your municipality.

2. It ensures the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada  are followed. The Standards and Guidelines must be followed for the approval of any intervention. This pan-Canadian document, which has been formally adopted by the Government of Alberta, is an important reference tool in learning how to conserve one’s historic resources. The decision to perform work on any given historic resource starts with having an understanding of the place.  This is done during the designation process of Provincial Historic Resources and is documented in their individual Statements of Significance, which can be found on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Only after a place is understood can successful planning for interventions begin. This is where the Provincial Historic Resource Project Approval process comes in as it allows for the evaluation of proposed work and serves to validate and document the methods and materials that will be used during the planned project. Without first understanding and planning, the last step of the conservation decision-making process – completing the actual intervention – may not be successful!

Finally, the last and most important reason to obtain a Project Approval for an intervention to a Provincial Historic Resources is:

3. You get to meet ME or one of my fellow Heritage Conservation Advisers. We are available to provide you with free advice on the maintenance and care of your designated Provincial Historic Resource so that it is allowed to continue to survive for generations to come.  Involving a Heritage Conservation Adviser at the outset of any given project might provide you with an insight previously not considered. It is also a requirement should you submit an application for grant funding with the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. This funding could help in covering 50% of the expenses related to a conservation project, up to a maximum amount of $100,000. (Owners of Municipal Historic Resources are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $50,000.)

The care and maintenance of our designated Provincial Historic Resources is in the best interests of all Albertans. Let’s work together to ensure that this work is done to the best of our abilities and documented properly so that the lessons we learn from the process and results are not forgotten.

Written by: Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser.