Major Funding Announced for Flood-Impacted Historic Places

This morning in High River the Honourable Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture, announced significant new funding to assist owners of historic properties affected by 2013’s catastrophic floods.

Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk, announces funding for flood-impacted historic resources.
Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk, announces funding for flood-impacted historic resources.

The announcement took place at the Museum of the Highwood, a Provincial Historic Resource, which suffered damages to its historic fabric as well to the artifacts and archival collections stored within.

A total of $12 million in funding has been approved to assist in efforts to conserve, and protect historic resources in communities affected by the flooding of 2013. Funding will be allocated to three primary areas:

Historic Buildings

$4.5 million will be invested to provide needed support on conservation projects, for floodrelated work not covered by Disaster Recovery Program or insurance. This support is for designated Provincial and Municipal Historic Resources affected by last year’s flooding. In addition to the Town of High River, communities such as Calgary, Medicine Hat, Canmore, as well as several others, were hit hard, with historic properties adjacent to major waterways significantly impacted.

Flood impacts to the Maccoy House in High River.
Flood impacts to the Maccoy House, a Municipal Historic Resource, in High River.

This new support program will aid in the critical work needed to ensure that flood-impacted historic places are appropriately rehabilitated according to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

For more information on this funding program, please contact Carina Naranjilla, Grants Program Coordinator, at 780-431-2305 (toll-free by first dialing 310-000) or via email at Carina.Naranjilla@gov.ab.ca

Museum and Archives Conservation Assistance

 $6 million will go to support the conservation of artifacts and archival materials at museums and archives affected by flooding. Funding will be administered through the Alberta Museums Association and the Archives Society of Alberta.

For more details on the funding available to flood-impacted archives, please visit the Archives Society of Alberta webpage or contact Rene Georgopalis, Executive Director and Archives Advisor, at 780-424-2697 or reneg@archivesalberta.org. More details on the funding available to flood-impacted museums can be found on the Alberta Museums Association webpage or by contacting Alexandra Hatcher, Executive Director and CEO, at 780-424-2626 (ext. 224) or ahatcher@museums.ab.ca.  

Archaeological and Palaeontological

Flood impacts to a highly significant archeological site in southern Alberta.
Flood impacts to a highly significant archeological site in southern Alberta.

A number of significant palaeontological sites were exposed as a result of the floods. $1.5 million will support existing Alberta Culture programs to collect fossils and artifacts as well as establish protective measures for archaeological and palaeontological sites affected by flooding.

This funding will ensure that these heritage treasures and the remarkable history they represent will be preserved and passed on to future generations.

MHPP and AMSP Application Dates Set for 2014

MHPP logo

The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and the Alberta Main Street Program do not have formal deadlines for grant applications.

AMSP Logo

To maximize flexibility for communities, program staff receive applications from interested municipalities on a ongoing basis throughout the year. That said, since MHPP projects are funded by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, it is convenient for stakeholders to coordinate their applications with meetings of the Foundation’s Board, which generally take place on a quarterly basis. This allows time for staff to review applications and prepare recommendations for the Board, and for the board members to review materials in advance.

Please note that the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program does maintain formal deadlines, of February 1st and September 1st of each calendar year.

At the Nov. 29-30th meeting of the Foundation, the Board established its meeting schedule for 2014, which in turn gives us the requested dates for submission of MHPP and AMSP grant applications.

  • For the February 21-22 meeting in Olds, submit by January 27th.
  • For the May 9-10 meeting in Fort McMurray, submit by April 14th.
  • For the September meeting 12-13 in Pincher Creek, submit by August 18th.
  • For the November 28-29 in Edmonton, submit by November 3rd.

If you have any questions about MHPP or AMSP applications, please feel free to contact us.

Written by:  Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

Alberta Historical Resources Foundation meets in St. Albert

Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

The Board of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation met in St. Albert, Friday November 29th and Saturday November 30th. The Board met to adjudicate grant applications for the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program, which supports:

In addition, the Foundation also considered grant applications from the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program, and the Alberta Main Street Program.

Starting on Friday afternoon at St. Albert Place, the major civic centre for the City of St. Albert, and a Douglas Cardinal-designed Municipal Historic Resource, the Board was greeted by Mayor Nolan Crouse. The mayor, a committed supporter of heritage, spoke eloquently about the City’s storied past since its founding as a Catholic mission over 150 years ago. He also brought the AHRF Board members up to date about recent heritage happenings in St. Albert.

Departing from Council Chambers, Board members embarked upon a tour of the Musee Heritage Museum. They then headed out into the snow under a bright Alberta blue sky to visit the Little White School and the City’s Mission Hill area, home to multiple Provincial Historic Resources, including the Bishop’s Palace and the Father Lacombe Chapel.

Members of the AHRF Board and Alberta Culture Staff outside of the Father Lacombe Chapel, St. Albert.
AHRF Board Members and Alberta Culture staff outside of the Father Lacombe Chapel in St. Albert; (Left to Right: Bob Gaetz, Leah Millar, Don Totten, Laurel Hallliday, Board Chair Fred Bradley, Tom Clark, AHRF Grants Program Coordinator Carina Naranjilla, Executive Director Matthew Wangler, and Manager, Municipal Heritage Services, Matthew Francis)

The afternoon was capped off with an informative tour of St. Albert’s designated Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator complex.

Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, St. Albert
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, St. Albert

The Board got down to business with Saturday’s meeting, where numerous grant applications were reviewed and key funding decisions made. Board Chair Fred Bradley was very pleased to welcome the Honourable Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture, who joined the meeting for a lunchtime discussion of key issues. Minister Klimchuk offered thanks to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for their dedicated work, and recognized several members who are completing their terms of service.

Stay tuned to RETROactive for further updates on funding decisions made by the Board at their November meeting!

Hooves in History: How the Horse Changed the West

This post continues our look at the work of Alberta’s Archaeological Survey. Previously, we explored “10, 000 years of hunting in Alberta“, as shown in the archaeological record. While RETROactive will continue to be your source for news and information about Alberta’s historic places, we are branching out to provide insights into other aspects of our work to understand, protect and conserve historic resources.

The chronological spread of the domestic horse into Alberta over the last 500 years.
The chronological spread of the domestic horse into Alberta over the last 500 years.

When horses galloped across what would become the US border onto Alberta’s rolling prairies in the 1720s, it was a bit of an overdue homecoming. It had been roughly 10,000 years since the province’s expansive grasslands shuddered under hard equestrian hooves. Fossils indicate that North America is the original home of the horse where it first appeared millions of years ago.

Ancient spear from Alberta that was coated in blood of the now-extinct Mexican horse.
Ancient spear from Alberta that was coated in blood of the now-extinct Mexican horse.

The now-extinct Mexican horse (Equus conversidens) ventured well north into Alberta’s tundra meadows and onto the menu of Alberta’s first humans. Ancient residues of horse blood were found on stone spear tips used over 10,000 years ago in southern Alberta. Fossil horse bones have also been found near Grande Prairie, Taber, Cochrane, and in the Edmonton area. Around 10 millennia ago, the horse mysteriously disappeared. When the horse returned with the Spanish 500 years ago it assumed a central role among Indigenous and European cultures in the West. The story of the horse in Alberta is a fascinating ride through the province’s heritage.

Once groups like the Blackfoot and Assiniboine mastered horseback riding, the horse occupied just about every dimension of life on the Plains. The new hooved pets created new hunting strategies, they changed the way people moved across the prairies, and they altered the dynamics of Plains warfare but reconstructing when and how the domestic horse spread into Alberta has been tricky. Historic records offer only a handful of references to horse adoption by Indigenous people but a unique piece of heritage offers fleeting and beautiful glimpses of how the horse changed the West. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta houses one of the largest collections of rock art in North America. For over a thousand years Indigenous people carved and painted their stories on the sandstone hoodoos and canyon walls and the horse looms large in those depictions.

This carving (‘petroglyph’) from Writing-on-Stone depicts a domestic horse in a buffalo hunt.
This carving (‘petroglyph’) from Writing-on-Stone depicts a domestic horse in a buffalo hunt.

Horse carvings depict a wide variety of events and beliefs including battle scenes, hunting expeditions, and tallies of horses acquired through trading or raiding. In everyday life, some horses replaced the dog as beasts of burden while other horses were highly revered as ‘buffalo runners’, prized for being long-winded and intelligent while overcoming an 800 pound buffalo. For buffalo hunters who needed both hands free for their weapons, a well trained horse was a matter of survival.

A painting by George Catlin from the 1800s of life on the Canadian Plains (reproduced with permission from the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta).
A painting by George Catlin from the 1800s of life on the Canadian Plains (reproduced with permission from the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta).

The horse also quickly galloped into peoples’ social lives. Families that acquired many horses gained prestige and respect. Horse raiding became a mark of courage for many groups and horses were traded for a multitude of things including European goods, food, membership into societies, and spiritual power. During the fur trade while slick beaver furs were motivating European economic interests in northern Alberta, horses, guns, and buffalo meat were becoming entwined in complex trade networks that would shape the history of the prairies. When the buffalo eventually vanished, the hooves of the horse pounded on.

This combat scene from Writing-on-Stone shows an early horse draped with body armour (photograph reproduced with permission from Michal Klassen).
This combat scene from Writing-on-Stone shows an early horse draped with body armour (photograph reproduced with permission from Michal Klassen).

The unique collection of rock art at Writing-on-Stone is a provincial treasure that captures pivotal centuries of modern Plains cultures. For this reason, the area is both a Provincial Historic Resource and a National Historic Site. Writing-on-Stone is still a sacred place to the Blackfoot people; a place where spirits dwell among the sculpted bedrock. Visitors are encouraged to learn the story of this powerful place. One of the many benefits of the stony archive of art on the Milk River is that it can be enjoyed and appreciated under blue skies.

Morning light on the beautiful hoodoos at Writing-on-Stone (photograph reproduced with permission from Robert Berdan).
Morning light on the beautiful hoodoos at Writing-on-Stone (photograph reproduced with permission from Robert Berdan).

What better way to learn how the horse changed the west than from reading the walls of Writing-on-Stone while cool breezes blow in hints of sage and a red-tailed hawk reads over your shoulder? Site protection combined with a healthy respect for Blackfoot traditions and the archaeological record will ensure that the history of the old West will endure and the story of the horse will ride on.

Written by: Todd Kristensen, Northern Archaeologist & Jack Brink, Curator of Archaeology, Royal Alberta Museum.

Big Game in Deep Time: 10,000 years of Hunting in Alberta

RETROactive has been publishing for almost three years now. We will continue to be your source for news and information about Alberta’s historic places.

At the same time, we’re going to start bringing you articles providing insight into other aspects of Alberta Culture’s work to understand, protect and conserve historic resources. This post is the first showcasing the work of Alberta’s Archaeological Survey.

By the time Europeans and their guns arrived, 250 years ago, in the place that would become Alberta, the area had already witnessed 10,000 years of big game hunting. Alberta’s prehistoric hunters killed mammoth, an extinct horse, an over-sized species of extinct bison, and even camels that roamed the plains millennia ago (Figure 1). Analyses of stone tools have revealed traces of mammoth and horse blood on spear tips in northeast Alberta and southwest of Lethbridge, respectively. Other evidence of prehistoric big game hunting includes human-made cut marks on animal bones found with stone tools.

A selection of wildlife that greeted Alberta’s hunters 10,000 years ago.
Figure 1:  A selection of wildlife that greeted Alberta’s hunters 10,000 years ago.

At eight tons and over three meters tall, the woolly mammoth towered over human hunters. So how did people with thrusting spears bag this massive grazer without being gored? Most likely with ingenuity and teamwork. Mammoths, as well as horses and large bison are herd animals that were probably corralled into situations that gave people the upper hand like bogs, canyons, and cliffs where lumbering prey would get trapped or stuck in the mud. In addition to the dangers of hunting big animals, people also had to contend with big predators like the now-extinct American lion, which has been found in Calgary and Edmonton. It was taller than a polar bear (but much faster) and likely kept people on fearful watch.

By 8,000 years ago, Alberta hunters acquired a new weapon that put some distance between themselves and future food: the atlatl (spear thrower) and dart (a short spear). The atlatl enabled people to throw weapons with much greater force (Figure 2).

Hunting technologies in Alberta.
Figure 2:  Hunting technologies in Alberta.

Around 2,500 years ago, stone tips on ancient weapons become much smaller which indicates the arrival of bow and arrow technology. The bow and arrow was effective at about 30 m away (Figure 3) so why adopt a new hunting system that required people to get closer to big game than the older atlatl?

Hunting ranges of Alberta’s ancient weapon systems.
Figure 3:  Hunting ranges of Alberta’s ancient weapon systems.

Imagine wearing a blind-fold on an autumn day and listening to the difference between a stationary archer and a javelin thrower lunging across the dry leaf litter. The bow and arrow was quieter because it required much less movement and it was also more accurate.

Several other hunting technologies existed in addition to spears, darts, and arrows. Bison and pronghorn antelope were stampeded over cliffs and canyons (Figure 4);

Ancient pronghorn hunting trap. The map is of stone drive lanes in Southeast Alberta and the photograph at right is of archaeologists mapping a pronghorn drive lane north of the Red Deer River.
Figure 4:  Ancient pronghorn hunting trap. The map is of stone drive lanes in Southeast Alberta and the photograph at right is of archaeologists mapping a pronghorn drive lane north of the Red Deer River.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump near Fort Macleod is a world famous example that was used for over 5,000 years. Small piles of stone were built in converging lines creating drive lanes that extended several kilometres. These piles stabilized branches and leather strips that waved in the wind and frightened bison, which were funnelled down the drive lanes and over steep cliffs. Up to 200 animals could be killed in one day. Buffalo jumps are one of the largest prehistoric meat-capturing events on the planet and it happened thousands of times over thousands of years on the rolling prairies of Alberta.

Moose, elk, deer, and caribou were snared, stalked in deep snow, and speared from boats while swimming. In the winter, beaver and bears were speared in dens and lodges. Alberta’s early hunters called game with birchbark horns, rubbed scapulas on trees to imitate antler raking, dressed in coyote skins to more easily approach bison, and regularly burned small areas to stimulate plant growth that attracted big game. Archaeology tells a story of thousands of years of successful big game hunting strategies. While archaeologists have learned a great deal about ancient hunting, much remains to be discovered.

Alberta Culture’s Archaeological Survey maintains records of new archaeological discoveries across the province to enable their protection. If you come across an arrow head or other stone tools, please take a few photographs or jot down some notes to share with us so we can continue to learn about the province’s rich hunting history. You can contact the Archaeological Survey at  780-431-2300.

Written by: Todd Kristensen, Northern Archaeologist & Darryl Bereziuk, Director, Archaeological Survey.

Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Community Development

Every year, Alberta Culture staff come together for an annual Fall Gathering. This year’s event, which took place in early October, was jam packed with unique information and workshops, designed to offer us practical help in our work. The event allows us as members of the Alberta Public Service to get to know other staff from across the Ministry of Culture and to learn more about what we all do each day for Albertans. It’s our goal that this directly translates into the work we do each day to help engage communities and people across the province.

This year, I joined Larry Pearson, Director of Historic Places Stewardship with the Historic Resources Management Branch, to offer a workshop on “Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Community Development.” We didn’t just want to show our colleagues what we do to protect historic places, we wanted to demonstrate how protecting these places contributes to the “triple bottom-line” of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Reuse-Reduce-Recycle

Since reducing, reusing, and recycling has become integrated into the normal lifecycle of our consumer goods, why not apply that common-sense principle to our built environment as well? As urbanist Jane Jacobs used to say, “new ideas need old buildings.” The key message was that “the greenest building is the one that’s already built.” 

Schematic drawing of the Lougheed Building (Provincial Historic Resource) in Calgary, which was a case study in the presentation.
Schematic drawing of the Lougheed Building (Provincial Historic Resource) in Calgary, which was a case study in the presentation.

So many people were interested in the presentation, that we thought it would be worth sharing here on RETROactive.

Click on the link below to open the presentation:

Fall Gathering – Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Community Development

Written by:  Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

Forum 2013 – Thank you!

forum attendees 2013
Participants in the 7th Annual Municipal Heritage Forum, gathered at Knox Church in Old Strathcona, September 20th, 2013.

On behalf of our whole Municipal Heritage Services team, we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those of you who participated in this year’s Municipal Heritage Forum at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and in the Old Strathcona Provincial Historic Area. The weather was gorgeous, we had fun together, and learned a lot about “The ABCs of Conservation.” 

Your contribution really helped to make the 7th Annual Municipal Heritage Forum a very positive event. We couldn’t have done it without you all! Whether you were presenting or just there to connect and share your local knowledge and experience, it all made a big difference.

You should see some of the great content from “The ABCs of Conservation,” including HD video of some of the Forum presentations, featured here on RETROactive over the next few weeks.

See you next year at Forum 2014! 

Want to attend Forum 2013? Register NOW before it’s too late!

Forum 2013 - Header Image

We are thrilled at the eager response to our upcoming Municipal Heritage Forum – the “ABC’s of Conservation,” taking place September 19-20th.  That’s two weeks away! It’s going to be a great time of learning, inspiration, and fun. Registrations have been pouring in, and there are limited spaces remaining. Be sure to register online ASAP to reserve your place! The Forum is free of charge to all attendees.

Registration will close September 12th, or before if we reach our capacity.

Forum participants are invited to attend the Alberta Museums Association’s Opening Reception, Thursday evening,September 19th. Tickets (for the reception only) are $40 each and can be purchased here.

There are also opportunities to participate in the Forum:

Show and Tell opportunities at the Forum

Municipality Show & Tell: Medicine Hat Heritage Resources Committee
Municipality Show & Tell: Medicine Hat Heritage Resources Committee at Forum 2012

Has your community been involved in some really compelling heritage work this year? Is there a conservation project you are eager to share with others?

Back by popular demand, this year will feature our community “show and tell” sessions on both Thursday September 19th at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and Friday September 20th at Knox Church in Old Strathcona. While we have already lined up some excellent updates from communities, we do have room for a few more, and would like to give you this opportunity to get involved and showcase your community’s good work.

“Show and tell” presentations should be:

  • No more than 15 minutes long
  • Fun
  • Accompanied a few slides or images – a picture’s worth a 1000 words!
  • Can be about facing community heritage challenges, not just success stories;
  • About a heritage project undertaken within the last year – it can be completed, or a work-in-progress.

If you are interested in “showing and telling,” your heritage happenings, contact Matthew Francis at matthew.francis@gov.ab.ca or (780) 438-8502, toll-free by first dialing 310-0000.

Flood impacted owners get extension for heritage grant applications

Alberta Historical Resources FoundationRegular readers of RETROactive will know that owners of designated historic resources listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places are eligible to apply for matching grants for approved conservation work.

The regular deadlines for owners of designated properties to apply for these grants are February 1st and September 1st. That means that the next grant application deadline is fast approaching!

But this year, for many Albertans, has been very different.

We know that many historic places have been seriously affected by flooding. In addition, some municipalities which have been severely impacted have had to push back scheduled processes, which, under normal conditions, would have already seen new Municipal Historic Resources designated.

As a result, the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation has extended its upcoming deadline for applications for Historic Resource Conservation grants, for flood-impacted applicants only. Applications from owners of flood-affected, designated historic properties will be received until September 30, 2013. In addition, flood-impacted properties that have been formally evaluated and are currently in the process of being considered for Municipal Historic Resource designation, but may not have completed the process, will be deemed as eligible, and are also encouraged to apply.

So, the application deadline has been extended for properties that:

  • have been directly impacted by flooding
  • are included on a formally adopted Municipal Heritage Inventory, with a Statement of Significance
  • have been issued a Notice of Intention to designate as a Municipal Historic Resource by the applicable municipality

The regular funding deadline of September 1, 2013 still applies to all non-flood-affected properties.

“Owners of historic buildings and sites that have been impacted by the severe flooding in northern and southern Alberta are still in the midst of recovery,” said Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk. “With the many challenges they are facing, extending the application deadline will ensure they will still have the opportunity to apply for grants to assist in their conservation efforts while allowing municipalities to complete their designation processes.”

If you have any questions relating to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s grant programs, and the upcoming grant deadline, please contact Carina Naranjilla, Grants Program Coordinator at (780) 431-2305 or by email: Carina.Naranjilla@gov.ab.ca.

If you have any questions relating to the Municipal Historic Resource designation process, please feel free to contact Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services, at (780) 438-8502 or by email at Matthew.Francis@gov.ab.ca.

These numbers are toll-free by first dialing 310-0000.