The Joy of Plaques

A tried and true way to recognize your locally significant historic places is with a lasting physical acknowledgement of some kind or another. So it is not surprising that for at least 140 years, communities around the world have used plaques, such as English Heritage’s renowned “Blue Plaques, to celebrate the heritage of a place.

Town of Wainwright plaques with Heritage Program Coordinator Scott Flett

Here in Alberta, we have had our own “blue plaques” to mark Provincial Historic Resources.

In addition, a number of municipalities have gotten into the act. Since 1978, the Historical Resources Acthas given local governments in Alberta the power to legally protect significant properties at the local level, through a bylaw of council. These Municipal Historic Resources carry the same level of legal protection as provincially designated properties, but with local heritage values in mind.

City of Edmonton, Strathcona Library Municipal Historic Resource Plaque

Here on RETROactive, we would like to begin to showcase some of the plaques and plaque programs that have been developed by municipalities around the province. To start with, I’ll just post a few pictures of locally-developed plaques that I have seen on my travels around Alberta. Perhaps these might inspire your community to designate and recognize some of your own locally significant historic places.

If you have pictures of plaques for other Municipal Historic Resources in your community, please feel free to email them to me at We will regularly feature some of these plaques and the meaningful historic places they recognize here on RETROactive, your blog for Alberta’s historic places.

City of Medicine Hat, St. John’s Presbyterian Church -Municipal Historic Resource Plaque

2 thoughts on “The Joy of Plaques

  • This is such an interesting concept — recognizing plaques.

    First off, I read “plagues” instead of “plaques”, and that got me thinking about the way in which plagues have been marked. For example, the markers in a cemetery indicating many deaths happening around the same time.

    The Metis Cemetery at St. Thomas Church, Duhamel, is a good example of how the marking of burials in a single place has been recently upgraded to provide proper recognition to those who died during a plague. It is good to find that those people are now remembered with their names engraved beautifully — with enough room for each one’s name – on a handsome black granite monument.

    Our appreciation goes out to Mr. Stan Trautman of St. Thomas Church for accomplishing this important task. And each time I see the blue Alberta Historical Resources “plaque” on the church, I am thankful for the work of those (both on the community and the government sides) who value historical resources and work so hard to ensure sites are identified and maintained … and write/educate about the activities.

    • Hi Jane, You make a good point – plaques and plagues, at first read, are very different things but interpreting the significance of these events via plaques is a great way to build awareness and recognize past events.

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