Registration for Municipal Heritage Forum 2012 is now open!

Place Matters!

Municipal Heritage Forum 2012

November 8th and 9th, 2012

Glenbow Museum (Phillips-Conoco Theatre), Calgary, AB

Municipal Heritage Forum 2012 is the annual opportunity for municipal leaders interested in the conservation of locally significant historic places to network with peers and learn about heritage conservation. If you are a municipal heritage planner, heritage advisory board member or councillor we urge you to sign up today!

Municipal Heritage Services staff at Municipal Heritage Forum 2011 in Edmonton.

Our keynote speaker, Julian Smith, Executive Director of the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts, will draw upon his heritage conservation work in Canada, France, India and the United States to help us understand why Place Matters! Several of Alberta’s municipalities will present aspects of their heritage conservation programs for discussion and several heritage professionals will provide breakout sessions on various topics.

DOWNLOAD: Municipal Heritage Forum 2012_Agenda and Registration Form

We look forward to seeing you in Calgary!

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Town of Raymond Develops its Context

Raymond Historical Inventory Committee Members (L to R): Keith Hancock, Ross Jensen, Kyle Bullock (Municipal Intern), Jack Stone, Cathy Needham (Town Councillor), Richard Kiddle (Raymond Historical Society President).

I had the privilege of leading a workshop for the Town of Raymond’s Historical Inventory Committee on August 27, 2012. The committee has been appointed by town council to explore ways to identify and protect Raymond’s historic resources.

Writing a context paper for the community is an excellent first step. A community cannot evaluate places for significance without a well thought out context paper. A context paper explains how a community’s past shaped its streetscapes and landscape. Writing a context paper helps community members understand their heritage values.

The context paper describes key people, events and groups and explains what their impact was on the community’s development. A well written context paper can be used to distinguish places that the community feels have heritage value, from places that are just old.

After a morning spent listening to me talk, we spent the afternoon drafting an outline for what could be a context paper. We talked at length about the town’s history. Raymond was founded in 1901 by a group of Mormon settlers from Utah. Jessie Knight, a wealthy industrialist from Utah, purchased over 20 000 hectares of land in and around where Raymond is situated. Knight financed the farming of sugar beet  and built a sugar factory to provide the economic basis for the settlement. Raymond was incorporated as a village in 1902 and a town in 1903, and named for Jessie’s son Raymond. Raymond Knight was himself a community leader who, among other things, founded the Raymond Stampede, Alberta’s oldest annual rodeo.

We worked through a list of several themes:

  • Culture
  • Economy
  • Politics and Government
  • Religion and Spirituality

Each theme was a starting point to talk about individuals, groups and events that shaped Raymond. It was interesting to hear the stories. Raymond was founded and deeply influenced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but has never been exclusively Mormon. Japanese Buddhists began arriving in the area in 1904. (Indeed they established a Buddhist temple in a former Latter Day Saints church acquired from the Mormons in 1929, which is designated as a Provincial Historic Resource). The people of Raymond are passionate about sports—when they built a new high school several years ago they raised extra funds to build a gymnasium large enough to accommodate all the fans. Raymond’s citizens also love the performing arts and Raymond has several amateur choirs and theatrical companies to prove it. I was particularly fascinated to learn about how the Raymond Stampede has grown from a rodeo to a homecoming event. Every year on July 1st, the community members open their homes to friends and relatives who return to take in the parade, rodeo and other homecoming festivities. It sounds like the population of Raymond probably doubles or triples that weekend.

Over the next few months, Raymond’s committee will begin exploring its heritage values. The result will be written up and presented to community members for their input. When it’s finalized, the context paper will give Raymond a means to evaluate individual sites for heritage value. This is turning out to be a really interesting project. I look forward to working with Raymond in the future as this project ramps up.

Written By: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Clearwater County creates a future for historic Nordegg townsite

Clearwater County staff, (L-R): Kim Jakowski, Amanda Wilson, Marilyn Sanders, Joe Baker, Rick Eamons

On August 8th I joined five members of Clearwater County’s staff for a visit to the Nordegg townsite, where the County has for many years been laying the foundation for a dynamic rejuvenation of this historic Alberta community. 

In particular, the municipality has recently partnered with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program to evaluate ten properties of historic interest, five within Nordegg, and five in the surrounding rural areas. Clearwater County was awarded a grant of $12, 500 for this Municipal Heritage Inventory project. 

Nordegg streetscape

More than ten years ago, Joe Baker, the County’s Director for the West Country and Planning Development, got the ball rolling for a future for this once bustling mining community by creating the Nordegg Development Plan. This plan envisioned that new life could emerge within the historic environment which once housed more than 2, 500 people, many of them employed by the Brazeau Colliers mine, which built the townsite.

Now, after considerable planning and infrastructure development at Nordegg, the Townsite is becoming more and more ready

Nordegg sidewalks and light standards

to accommodate new life, both in terms of commercial and residential development. New residential streets have been built, along with sidewalks and light standards.

The historic resources evaluated on Main Street, including the former bank, church, general store and garage, which will anchor and inspire new construction informed by sound principles for new construction in historic districts.

This is an exciting time as historic places can become a value-added catalyst for sustainable growth in rural Alberta.

Written by:Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

Lee Creek (Or is it “Lee’s Creek”?) – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1, we read about “Lee’s Creek,” as mentioned in Corb Lund’s song “The Truth Comes Out” and how Lee Creek in the Cardston area is named for early pioneer William Samuel Lee.  So, what’s up with the different spelling? Is it Lee Creek or Lee’s Creek? It may actually be both. Confused? Read on for more. 

Even though Lee only lived on the creek named for him for about three years (1867-1870), the name stuck. A map produced by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1884 identifies the creek as “Lee’s Creek.” In 1894, the name “Lee Creek” (without the possessive apostrophe) was recorded by the Dominion Land Survey in the field notes of surveyor Fred W. Wilkins and in the diary of Arthur O. Wheeler (for more about Wheeler see the St. Nicholas Peak post of December 22, 2011). In 1901, the Geographic Board of Canada approved the non-possessive form of the name – Lee Creek – for use on official maps. The portion of the creek south of the 49th parallel remained officially unnamed until 1929, when the United States Board on Geographical Names (USBGN) sanctioned the name Lee Creek for their portion of the water feature.

So why the different spellings of Lee/Lee’s Creek? The use of the possessive form of words in place names is generally discouraged. Some of the rationales for not using the possessive form of names are that geographical features do not belong to a single person or group, but to all people; that place names are not words with a specific dictionary meaning, but are labels to which standard grammatical rules do not necessarily apply; and that the presence of apostrophes cause confusion, particularly when attempting to retrieve names in modern databases, internet search engines and directional software used by emergency services (police, ambulance, fire). There is also a belief (likely apocryphal) that apostrophes were not used on early maps because they were often confused with the standard cartographic notation indicating the presence of stones and rocks.

Lee Creek with a Kainai (Blood) encampment in the distance,
taken near Cardston, 1898.

The USBGN and the Committee for Geographical Names in Australia both have policies prohibiting the use of the possessive apostrophe in the official names of geographical features. Many naming regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom have been eliminating apostrophes from their official names. Canada and Alberta also discourage the use of the possessive apostrophe, however Principle 5(A) of Alberta’s “Principles of Geographical Naming” does allow for the use of possessive forms if it can be demonstrated that form of the name is in long-standing local use.

However, despite all of the official naming standards and policies, local names and forms die hard. In the case of Lee Creek, even more than 110 years after that form of the name was officially adopted the locals still refer to it as “Lee’s Creek. When asked if the Lee Creek on the map was the same as the Lee’s Creek in his song, Corb Lund replied

Yup. Same one. It flows right through our ranch near Beazer. I grew up swimming and fly fishing it. My Grandpa, whose father homesteaded the place, called it “Lee’s Creek.” “Lee’s Crick to be really precise, but I’ve seen it called “Lee Creek.” In my experience, the locals I knew called it “Lee’s” and the book name was always “Lee,” but your mileage may vary…

At the end of the day, whatever the form the name takes, Lee (or Lee’s) Creek, the creek and its name continues to commemorate one of Alberta’s earliest pioneers.

To read Part 1, click here.

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator 


National Topographic System Map Sheet: 82 N/09 – Hector Lake


48° 59’ 53” N & 113° 36’ 02” W (at US/Canada border) to

49° 13′ 25″ N & 113° 15′ 59″ W (at confluence with St. Mary River)

Alberta Township System:

SW ¼, Sec 6 Twp 1 Rge 27 W4 (at US/Canada border) to

SW ¼, Sec 23 Twp 3 Rge 25 W4 (at confluence with St. Mary River)


Flows generally north-easterly from the border for approximately 65 km (35 km straight line) until it joins the St. Mary River just north of the Town of Cardston 

Additional Resources: 

More information about and images of Lee Creek and William Samuel Lee can be found in:

C. Drain, “Lee, William – The Pass was his Bull Run,” Crowsnest and its People, 2nd printing, (Coleman: Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, 1980), 662-663

Keynote Speaker Announced!

We are pleased to announce that the 2012 Municipal Heritage Forum keynote speaker will be Julian Smith, Executive Director of the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts in Queenston, Ontario. Julian has many years of experience as an architect and scholar focused on heritage conservation. He recently advised the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on the development of recommendations for Historic Urban Landscapes. Julian’s wide-ranging experience makes him the pre-eminent person to speak about our theme, “Place Matters!”

To learn more about Julian and some of the innovative and significant projects that he may speak about at our Forum, check out the brief biography that is posted on the Willowbank website: 

About Julian Smith:

Julian is an architect, conservator, scholar and educator. He is internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of heritage conservation in general, and to cultural landscape theory and practice in particular. After a childhood in Montreal, Quebec; Delhi, India; and Cambridge, Massachusetts, he did undergraduate work at Oberlin, graduate studies with Kevin Lynch and others at MIT, and a certificate in preservation planning at Cornell. He worked in the contemporary design field with Peter Eisenman at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City, and later returned to India to do research on cognitive mapping of historic town centres in South India. He moved to Canada and eventually became Chief Restoration Architect for the National Historic Sites program, a position he held for six years. He then established his own architectural and planning practice, and also founded and directed the graduate program in Heritage Conservation at Carleton University. He became Executive Director of Willowbank in 2008. Julian has been responsible for design and development work involving significant cultural sites in Canada, the U.S., France, Italy, India, Sri Lanka, and Japan. Among his projects are the restoration of the Vimy Monument in France, the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa, and the Lister Block in Hamilton, and master plans for the Parliament Buildings in Toronto, the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, and a new campus for a historic college in south India. He has also developed policy documents for a variety of federal and provincial agencies in Canada, and has been Canadian delegate to UNESCO for the drafting of the new international recommendation on Historic Urban Landscapes. His use of a cultural landscape framework allows him to move across the boundaries between architecture, landscape and urban design. Julian is architectural advisor to the Trustees of Queen’s University, a past member of the Advisory Committee to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and a frequent contributor to international forums. He is a recipient of Heritage Canada’s Gabrielle Léger Award and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s Eric Arthur Award, both recognizing lifetime achievement in the heritage conservation field.

Interested in hearing Julian speak? If you are a municipal heritage stakeholder (i.e. municipal staff member, heritage advisory board member, councillor) look into attending our Municipal Heritage Forum on November 8-9, 2012 in Calgary. Detailed information about the Forum will follow shortly.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

All Aboard! Big Valley Canadian Northern Railway Station Celebrates 100 Years

Canadian Northern Railway Station, Big Valley

At one time, more than 800 communities in Alberta had a train station. This is no longer the case. Fewer than 10% of Alberta’s train stations remain today, and even fewer continue to serve their original purpose. The Canadian Northern Railway Station at Big Valley – designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2005 – is one of those few. Train excursions run regularly from Stettler to Big Valley, often with the mighty 6060 Steam Locomotive (also a Provincial Historic Resource) in the lead.

The Big Valley CNoR station in 2011

The Big Valley CNoR station received a restoration grant from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation this year, just in time for its 100th birthday. The Canadian Northern Society is planning a big party in honour of the centenary on Saturday, September 29. Check out the poster! Make sure your visit includes the roundhouse, which was designated along with the railway station. Another site worthy of note in Big Valley is St. Edmund’s Anglican Church – the Blue Church at the top of the hill – which was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2002.

The Big Valley CNoR station in 1979 (79-R0375-27)

Sixteen other train stations have been designated Provincial Historic Resources. They are at Camrose, Claresholm, Didsbury, Empress, Fort Saskatchewan, Heinsburg, High River, Lethbridge, Meeting Creek, Paradise Valley, Peace River, Red Deer, Sexsmith, Smoky Lake, Strathcona (in Edmonton), and Vegreville. The stations at Beiseker, High River, Red Deer and Strathcona have also been designated by their respective municipalities. Additional recognition for Alberta train stations has come from the federal government, which has declared those at Banff, Empress, Hanna, Jasper, Lake Louise, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Strathcona to be Heritage Railway Stations.

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

Lee Creek (Or is it “Lee’s Creek”?) – Part 1 of 2

The inspiration for some of these blog posts comes from the darndest places and some have extremely long gestation periods. Such is the case with this one.

William Samuel Lee, ca. 1900

Place names have a long history of being used in popular music. While American references abound, finding songs that mention Alberta, or even Canadian places or names are much harder to find. It seems that people would rather leave their heart in San Francisco than in Sangudo or spread the news about New York rather than New Sarepta. But if you look hard enough, there are examples of Alberta place names used in songs.

It was early January 2012. I was desperately trying to get the once enjoyable, but now overplayed and cloyingly sentimental tones of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole from running through my head like the soundtrack to some never-ending, slightly demented holiday television special. So, I popped one of my favourite CDs into the player and the wonderful sounds of Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans started emanating from my speakers. The disc eventually came around to Track 8, “The Truth Comes Out.” Now, the house is pretty quiet, and I am listening to the lyrics much more closely than I otherwise might, and I hear:

You gotta’ look out for bear when you’re fishing on Lee’s Creek

They come ‘round the bend and they’ll make your knees weak

There’s grizzlies where there was no grizzly bears before.

Now, I know that Corb Lund is from southern Alberta and even though I am the names guy, I am not all that familiar with the southern reaches of the province. After mulling over the song for awhile, I start to wonder if there really is a “Lee’s Creek.” So, I fire up the old Alberta Geographical Names Database and sure enough there is a “Lee’s Creek,” or more properly there is a Lee Creek (more on that in a moment) in southern Alberta. It is a substantial creek with an interesting history.

Lee Creek is located in south-western Alberta. It rises within Montana’s Glacier National Park and flows generally north-easterly, crossing into Canada about 16 kilometres west of the Carway, AB / Peigan, MT border crossing. It continues to meander generally north-easterly for about 60 km (35 km as the crow flies), passing through the Town of Cardston before joining the St. Mary River in Section 23, Township 3, Range 25, West of the 4th Meridian (approximately 60 km south-west of Lethbridge).

The creek is named for William Samuel Lee. According to a local history of the Crowsnest Pass region, Lee was born in England at about 1830. As a young man, he migrated to the United States and worked in New York and Ohio before making his way to California hoping to make his fortune in the gold rush. Like most prospectors, Lee’s hopes of quick wealth in the gold fields were disappointed and he headed north to Fort Benton, Montana District to try his hand at fur trading. In 1867, Lee crossed the border into Rupert’s Land where he came upon a well-used ford across a substantial creek. He established a small trading post beside the ford (just west of present-day Beazer). The creek soon became known as “Lee’s Creek.”

Lee did not stay long on the creek named for him; he moved to the Pincher Creek area in 1870 and began ranching. He squatted on land along the shores of a lake (Lee Lake, go figure) about three km south east of present day Burmis. A few years later, Lee was evicted by the Hudson’s Bay Company and he moved his ranch, buildings and all, to a site north of Burmis. Lee is an important figure in the history of the Crowsnest Pass. He is considered to be the first non-native resident of the Pass; he discovered sulphur springs near present-day Frank; opened a boarding house; and built the region’s first school. William Lee spent the rest of his life in the Crowsnest region; he died of pneumonia in 1896.

Curious to learn more? Check out Part 2.

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator


National Topographic System Map Sheet: 82 N/09 – Hector Lake


48° 59’ 53” N & 113° 36’ 02” W (at US/Canada border) to

49° 13′ 25″ N & 113° 15′ 59″ W (at confluence with St. Mary River)

Alberta Township System:

SW ¼, Sec 6 Twp 1 Rge 27 W4 (at US/Canada border) to

SW ¼, Sec 23 Twp 3 Rge 25 W4 (at confluence with St. Mary River)


Flows generally north-easterly from the border for approximately 65 km (35 km straight line) until it joins the St. Mary River just north of the Town of Cardston 

Additional Resources: 

More information about and images of Lee Creek and William Samuel Lee can be found in:

C. Drain, “Lee, William – The Pass was his Bull Run,” Crowsnest and its People, 2nd printing, (Coleman: Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, 1980), 662-663

Alberta Legislature Building and South Grounds Designated a Provincial Historic Resource

Photo: Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta

On Sunday, September 2, 2012, during the Legislature Building’s centennial celebrations, Premier Alison Redford announced that the Legislature Building and portions of its south grounds have been designated a Provincial Historic Resource.

As explained in the Government of Alberta’s official news release, “the Alberta Legislature Building is an example of Beaux-Arts architecture popular in North America between 1895 and 1920. The south grounds that have historically served as a recreation area also contain archaeological resources associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Edmonton.” To read the complete news release, click here.

Check out the following photographs from the centennial celebrations:

Photo: Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Photo: Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Photo: Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Photo: Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Accepting Applications: Renewed Heritage Markers Program

Deadline: October 1, 2012

The newest addition to Alberta’s heritage markers family.

Alberta Culture is very pleased to announce the launch of its renewed Heritage Markers program.  Albertans are familiar with the many roadside signs erected over the years by Alberta Culture to promote greater awareness of our province’s heritage.  From the frontier-style signs of long ago to the robust “Big Blue” signs of more recent years, the Heritage Markers program has engaged travellers along Alberta’s highways and byways on a range of eclectic and compelling heritage topics.

One of the “Big Blue” signs.

The program is now taking a bold step forward and introducing dynamic new designs, greater flexibility of location, and more rigorous public engagement. The Heritage Markers program has designed more modestly-sized markers that incorporate lively, more colourful interpretive panels.  The markers are perfect for placement along trails, within parks, and in other public spaces.

An early roadside sign in Alberta.

Albertans are encouraged to submit applications to the Heritage Markers program to recognize the people, places, and events that have shaped our province’s unique character.  If an application is accepted, Alberta Culture will assume all the labour and costs of creating and installing a new heritage marker.  If you think you have a heritage topic that Albertans should know about, please visit the Heritage Markers program website, where you can review the project guidelines and consider submitting an application.  Please note that the next application deadline is October 1, 2012.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact me, Matthew Wangler.

Written by: Matthew Wangler, Manager of Historic Places Research and Designation Program