If you’re looking for some family fun this Labour Day weekend, consider visiting one of Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, Interpretive Centres or Museums. There is a lot of great programming that offers something for everyone – from strolling through gardens and learning about 1920s fashion, to carriage rides, guided hikes and tours, and getting your hands dirty and bellies full at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Harvest Festival! Many of our sites, centres and museums are open year round but several others will be closing for the season after Labour Day. Don’t miss your opportunity to visit these sites before they close for the year!
- The Brooks Aqueduct was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s and was the largest concrete structure of its kind in the world at the time (spanning a 3.2 km wide valley). The Aqueduct was an important part of an expansive irrigation network in the area and is an impressive site to see!
- The Leitch Collieries historic site is located in the Crowsnest Pass and at its time (1907-1915) was one of the largest and most ambitious coal mines in the pass. Ruins from some of the sandstone buildings that formed the surface operations are still standing. Take a walking tour and enjoy learning about the coal mining history of the area.
Other sites in Southern Alberta that are open year round and make for a great weekend visit (especially while it is still nice outside!) include the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Remington Carriage Museum, and Lougheed House.
- The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre is located in the Crowsnest Pass and highlights the history of the region through interactive displays and exhibits. Here you can learn about Frank Slide – Canada’s deadliest rockslide, life in a coal mining town, and the amazing history of the Crowsnest Pass.
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, located near Fort Macleod, is the oldest, largest, and best-preserved known buffalo jump site and offers remarkable insight into Plains bison-hunting culture. On September 5th a hike to the ancient drive lanes with Blackfoot guides will be offered, advanced registration is recommended.
- The Remington Carriage Museum, located in Cardston, features North America’s largest collection of horse drawn vehicles. The museum, a visitor favourite, also has a carriage factory, carriage dealer, blacksmith shop and livery stable, and a racetrack. Carriage rides are available during the summer and the site has a working stable, theatre, cafeteria, and gift shop.
- Lougheed House, located in Calgary’s historic Beltline district, is the 1891 historic home of Senator James and Isabella Lougheed. Tours of the house are available and there is a restaurant and beautiful gardens on site. Currently, Lougheed House is featuring “Daring Deco”, an exhibit on 1920s Women’s Fashion. On September 11th there will be a Daring Deco 1920s Fashion Show featuring fashion, culture, food and entertainment!
In Central and Northern Alberta, several sites will be closing for the year after Labour Day so be sure to visit them while you can! This includes Stephansson House, Father Lacombe Chapel, Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, and Victoria Settlement, Fort George and Buckingham House, and Historic Dunvegan.
- Stephansson House, located near Markerville just west of Red Deer, was the home of Stephan G. Stephansson and his family. Stephansson was born in Iceland but moved his family to Alberta in 1889 where he farmed and wrote poetry. He is now known as one of the greatest poets in the western world. The site shows the home as it was in 1927, with original furnishings, and features Stephansson’s poetry. Costumed interpreters bring the site to life.
- Father Lacombe Chapel, Alberta’s oldest building, is located in St. Albert. Historical interpreters guide visitors through the chapel and the historic Mission Hill site, and demonstrate activities and skills from the mid 1800s.
- The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is located 25 minutes east of Edmonton. This outdoor living-history museum features the life of early Ukrainian pioneers from 1892-1930 and has more than 35 structures on site including a sod house, a one and two room school house, grain elevator, blacksmith shop and churches. Free horse drawn wagon rides, guided tours, traditional Ukrainian food, a gift shop, and a picnic area are offered at the site. The Harvest Food Festival will be on Sunday, September 13th from 9:00am to 5:00pm and will feature a pancake breakfast, harvest activities, bread making, pickling, and other food demonstrations.
- Victoria Settlement, located near Smoky Lake and founded in 1862 by Reverend George McDougall, showcases three aspects of Alberta’s history – missionary activity, the fur trade, and settlement. The site today features the 1864 Clerk’s quarters and 1906 Methodist Church, exhibits, trails, costumed interpreters, and activities that tell the history of the settlement.
- Fort George and Buckingham House, located near Elk Point, takes visitors back in time to the early fur trade in Alberta. Visitors can explore interpretive paths and the archaeological sites of the two trading posts. During Labour Day weekend staff will not be on site but the interpretive pathways will still be open to visitors.
- Historic Dunvegan, located near Fairview, also offers a glimpse into life during the fur trade. There is a historic church, a Hudson’s Bay Company factor’s house, a trading store, and tipis. Over Labour Day weekend staff will not be on site but the interpretive pathways will be open to visitors and people are welcome to wander the grounds and enjoy the scenery.
- The Oil Sands Discovery Centre , located in Fort McMurray, facilitates awareness and knowledge of Alberta’s oil sands. Visitors can learn about the history, science, and technology of the oil sands and get a firsthand look at the heavy equipment used in oil sands operations!
- Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site, located in Edmonton, was the home of the first Premier of Alberta, Alexander Cameron Rutherford. This beautiful brick mansion has been restored and furnished in Edwardian-era style and features gardens, costumed interpreters, guided tours and special events.
- The Reynolds-Alberta Museum, located in Wetaskiwin, highlights technological change in transportation, aviation, agriculture and industry from the 1890s to present. The museum features a variety of automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, tractors, agricultural implements, aircraft and industrial equipment. Labour Day weekend is the annual Harvest Festival at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum with lots of activities taking place on Saturday and Sunday, including bread baking, crafts, farming demonstrations, tractor rides, musical entertainment, a family fun zone, movies, and a pie auction! It’s a fun filled weekend with activities for the whole family. Click here for more details about the event.
Also don’t forget about the Royal Alberta Museum and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology which are open year round! It’s an amazing time of year in Alberta and we hope you can find some time to enjoy our province’s unique history and culture. Have a safe and happy long weekend!