Research and evaluation are important tools for managing Alberta’s historic resources. They help us to set our strategic plans and policies for the future, understand how our grants and programs are working and measure the impact we have made – both on historic places and the people who enjoy them.
So here are a few fun facts that you might not have known about heritage in Alberta:
- The oldest known building in Alberta still on its original foundation is the Clerk’s Quarters at Fort Victoria near Pakan, which dates from 1865.
- The Historic Resources Management Branch looks after the Alberta Register of Historic Places which as of January 29, 2014 includes 219 places recognized as Municipal Historic Resources and 359 places recognized as Provincial Historic Resources. Some places carry both types of designation, like Calgary City Hall (listed as both a Municipal Historic Resource and a Provincial Historic Resource).
- The first building recognized as a historic resource was the Bitumount Site at Fort McMurray on 4th December 1974.
- The most recent building to be added to the register was the McLaughlin / Nelson Home in Spruce Grove.
- Since 2000 the number of places recognized with a designation has increased: 41 percent of all Provincial Historic Resources designations and 84 percent of all Municipal Historic Resources designations occurred during this period. 2001 and 2009 were important years for Provincial Historic Resource designation: 17 buildings were listed both years. For Municipal Historic Resources 2009 was an important year: 45 buildings were listed.
- With 58 Provincial Historic Resources in Calgary and 48 Provincial Historic Resources in Edmonton these two cities have the most in the province. This is followed by Lethbridge (12), Fort MacLeod (9), and Medicine Hat (8).
- Edmonton has the most Municipal Historic Resources with 91 in total, where Calgary has 35. This is followed by Red Deer (11), Banff (8) and Wainwright (8).
- Approximately 20 percent of all Provincial Historic Resource and Municipal Historic Resources in Alberta are used as residences. 67 percent of these buildings are single family dwellings. 66 percent of all designated single family dwellings are located in Edmonton, where the property value of residential buildings designated as Municipal Historic Resources ranges from about $215 000 to $1.3 million.
- Approximately 19 percent of all buildings designated as Provincial Historic Resources or Municipal Historic Resources are used for commercial purposes. 35 percent of these are used as offices and 32 percent are used for retail or wholesale. Historic buildings are also used for other purposes such as: agriculture, community use, education, government, health care, industry, leisure, spirituality, or transportation.
- As of December 2012, there are 606 buildings which have been identified as places of interest by municipalities across Alberta. Each requires further research and evaluation to determine if it should be designated as a Municipal Historic Resource.
- With a collection of over 750 historic resources, it is important that funding is available to help their owners look after these precious places. In 2012-2013, grants of $4.9 million were given by the Ministry through the Alberta Historical Resource Foundation to conserve the province’s heritage landmarks.
Get to know Alberta’s historic resource a bit better by visiting a Provincial Historic Site, Interpretative Centre of Museum or having a walk around your city or town. Historic resources are often easy to spot as many have been recognized with a plaque or interpretation panel. You can also search online for buildings recognized in your community by visiting the Alberta Register of Historic Places. If you think there is a building or site in your community that should be recognized but isn’t, talk to your municipality about how it can be protected for the future.
Written by: Sarah Hill.