Call for nominations to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Heritage Awards 2014

Deadline for nominations is July 15

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation is seeking nominations to the Heritage Awards to honour individuals, organizations and municipalities who have demonstrated outstanding contributions in heritage preservation.

Awards are presented in four categories: Heritage Conservation, Heritage Awareness, Municipal Heritage Preservation and Outstanding Achievement. The Heritage Conservation category has been expanded to include nominations for projects involving the conservation and interpretation of palaeontological and archaeological resources. Self-nominations are also now accepted.

The awards will be presented to awardees on October 16 in Red Deer to be held in conjunction with Alberta Culture’s Municipal Heritage Forum reception.

For a copy of the guidelines and nomination form, click here or contact Carina Naranjilla, Program Coordinator at 780-431-2305.

Written by: Carina Naranjilla, AHRF Grant Program Coordinator

Hertitage Awards Ad

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation awards spring round of heritage grants

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation awarded 82 grants worth over $1.48 million. The Heritage Preservation Partnership Program approved 81 grants to assist individuals, municipalities and organizations in preserving and interpreting Alberta’s heritage. Project grant categories are: historic resource conservation, heritage awareness, publications and research, as well as the Roger Soderstrom Scholarship. As well, the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program awarded a grant to the City of Edmonton to complete a heritage inventory of the Calder neighbourhood.

The next application deadline for the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program is September 2, 2014.

Click here for a complete list of the funded projects.

Have a happy Canada Day everyone!

 Written by: Carina Naranjilla, Grant Program Coordinator, Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

 

Register Now for the 2014 Municipal Heritage Forum!

MHF v1

We are pleased to announce that registration for this year’s Municipal Heritage Forum is now open!

The Forum is being held on October 16th and 17th at the Lacombe Memorial Centre in the City of Lacombe. The theme for this year’s Forum is “New Ideas for Historic Places: Conservation through Technology and Innovation”.

Our keynote speakers for this year include Kayla Jonas Galvin of Archaeological Research Associates in Kitchner, Ontario and Larry Laliberté, GIS Librarian at the University of Alberta. Kayla specializes in social media and will be speaking about how you can use social media to conserve local historic places and Larry will be presenting his research on the application of Geographical Information Systems and geovisualization to linking local digital collections.

Kayla Jonas Galvin
Kayla Jonas Galvin
Larry Laliberte
Larry Laliberté

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A preliminary version of the Forum schedule is available here. Registration is available online. Space is limited so please register today.

We look forward to seeing you in beautiful Lacombe!

 

Okotoks Big Rock – Managing Vandalism with Technology

The word ‘Okotoks’ translates from the Blackfoot language as ‘Big Rock.’ The name was given by the resident indigenous people to a very large boulder that is known as a glacial erratic – boulders that have been moved from their original location by glacial ice. Okotoks is by far the largest erratic in Alberta; it is about the size of a two-story house and is estimated to weigh nearly seven million kilograms. The Big Rock is a well-known landmark in southern Alberta. It is a designated provincial historic resource owned by the Government of Alberta, and is accessible to the public by means of a hiking trail, signage and a parking lot. What is not well-known is that the Okotoks Big Rock has a great deal of Aboriginal rock art painted on its surfaces.

Okotoks Big Rock Erratic
Okotoks Big Rock Erratic

Rock art includes pictographs (paintings) made with a red paint composed of iron-rich hematite (red ochre). The existence of a few red ochre images on the Big Rock has been known for decades, but the revolution in digital photography and image enhancement has brought to light a whole lot more art on the Okotoks erratic than previously known. Specifically, we now know that some areas of the rocks were extensively rubbed with red ochre. Since these red areas lack definable rock art figures like humans and animals, it was long believed that the red blotches were simply part of the rocks’ natural colour. Through enhancement we can now pick out hand prints and finger swipes, telling us these red blotches were indeed made by human beings.

Rock art at Okotoks Big Rock
Rock art at Okotoks Big Rock
Photo-enhanced areas of red ochre smeared on Okotoks Erratic. Note hand prints at top.
Photo-enhanced areas of red ochre smeared on Okotoks Erratic. Note hand prints at top.

All rock art sites are sacred to Native people; rock art represents communication between human beings and the spirit world. Blackfoot people still visit the Okotoks site, conduct ceremonies, and hold the site in great reverence. Thus, it is all the more sad and frustrating that the Okotoks erratic has been subjected to extensive and increasingly frequent bouts of vandalism. As the site is operated by the province and is open to the public, there comes a point where some action needs to be taken. It is an eyesore, an embarrassment and severely disrespectful to the Blackfoot beliefs about the sacred character of the rock. But what can be done with a massive rock surface covered with graffiti that underneath lies fragile, precious painted pictures that tell stories of ancient Aboriginal people?

In the past few years, serious incidences of graffiti were washed off the rock face using a high pressure water sprayer. More recently, an environmentally friendly paint stripper had been used with good success. But critical to any graffiti removal has been potential impact to underlying rock art. We realized that we could never properly manage the site until we had a high-quality “map” of the rocks that plots the complex rock structure and the locations of all the rock art images. We realized that the best way to make a physical record of the Big Rock was to record it in 3D using a portable laser scanner. While documentation won’t stop vandalism at Okotoks, it will make us much better prepared to deal with future instances in a way that protects significant historical resources.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A partnership with the internationally respected organization CyArk was formed. CyArk is a nonprofit organization dedicated to digital recording and preservation of the world’s most significant sites. Among their credits are 3D recordings of the statues of Easter Island, Pompeii, ancient Thebes, and Mt. Rushmore. CyArk also digitally stores the 3D information for each site, serving as a world archive of heritage data. CyArk retained a local service provider to assist with the equipment and expertise to conduct the laser scanning. In early October 2013 the entire external surface of the Okotoks Big Rock, including the tops of the rocks and some internal crevices, was scanned during two days of field work. The result is a strikingly accurate rendering of the Okotoks erratic in both its geometric shape and the plotting of all known rock art images. The project also resulted in production of an accurate 1:200 scale model of the Rock that will be useful for planning and educational purposes.

3D rendering of point cloud data from laser scan at Okotoks with enhanced photography overlaid. Red areas are red ochre paint; note square-bodied human figure at upper left.
3D rendering of point cloud data from laser scan at Okotoks with enhanced photography overlaid. Red areas are red ochre paint; note square-bodied human figure at upper left.

In addition to the rendering and scale model, the project also raised awareness about negative impacts associated with graffiti and heightening understanding of the value and importance of historic resources to the community. Further Alberta Culture now has a sophisticated tool to use for site management.

Alireza Farrokhi holding 1:200 scale model of the Big Rock
Alireza Farrokhi holding 1:200 scale model of the Big Rock

Sadly, the rocks have already been subjected to more graffiti in the months since our project ended; however, we now have accurate information on the type and location of rock art that will assist in graffiti removal efforts. There are other threats to the cultural and natural significance of the Okotoks erratic. It has long been a favoured place for climbers, subdivisions are rapidly encroaching on the site, and public visitation is increasing. There are many challenges ahead in the long-term management of the Big Rock, but thanks to the careful recording conducted through Innovation Program funding we have a solid baseline of information about this very special place that will guide future management.

Written by: Jack Brink, Curator, Royal Alberta Museum and Alireza Farrokhi, Head of Conservation and Construction Services, Historic Places Stewardship

 

Designing Window Displays and Coping with Road Construction – Tips and Tricks Learned from the 2014 Main Street Conference

The National Main Streets Conference is a big event. This year over 1,400 people attended the conference and there were approximately 75 sessions to choose from. Needless to say it was difficult to choose which sessions to attend. Of the sessions that I attended two stood out for me as being really helpful for our Main Street members: “The Naked Truth about Well-Dressed Windows” and “Main Street Makeover – Surviving and Thriving during Construction”.

Storefront Windows

Store owners only have a few seconds to convince a passerby to enter their establishment. The quality and interest of store window displays goes a long way in enticing potential shoppers. “The Naked Truth about Well-Dressed Windows” provided by Seanette Corkill of Frontdoor Back, a retail consultant based out of Vancouver, Washington, included a lot of practical advice on how to plan for and manage your window displays.

Seanette covered planning and investment for window dressings and stressed the importance of budgeting for lighting and props to build a collection that can be used over time. The decision on what type of backdrop to use is important and you can choose from full disclosure (store is visible behind the display), partial disclosure (where the store is partially visible but separated from the display) and closed (display blocked from the rest of the store). Decals are a good addition to storefront but they should be modest in size, not interrupt sightlines and placed to direct the eye to the display itself. Lighting is immensely important and should consist of tracked lighting that will light the top and front of the product on display.

The Artworks in Edmonton is known for its creative window displays. © Google Streetview
The Artworks in Edmonton is known for its creative window displays. © Google Streetview

Road Construction

Switching topics from the pretty to the dirty, Kristi Trevarrow’s session on “Surviving and Thriving during Construction” drew on her role with the Rochester Downtown Development Authority in coordinating a main street upgrade project in Rochester, Michigan. The project involved a complete overhaul of the roads, underground services and streetscape and affected their downtown main street for several months. Her responsibility was to minimize the impact of the construction project on local businesses.

Main Street Rochester, MI. © Google Streetview
Main Street Rochester, MI. © Google Streetview

According to Kristi, the key to managing business during a successful construction project is pre-planning and communication. In her case, Kristi started holding information meetings two years in advance of the construction and met with everyone she could think of including business owners, residents, local organizations, major employers, property owners and adjacent municipalities. Communications for the project included a project website with regular updates; a brochure with frequently asked questions for businesses to hand out to their patrons; a comprehensive media engagement strategy; social media updates; a field office on the main street for the project (which they built into the project contract); monthly community meetings throughout the duration of the project; and last but not least, a presence on the street every day during construction to field questions and respond to concerns. There were still hiccups that occurred along the way but the high level of planning and engagement by the Development Authority minimized negative experiences.

Both high quality window displays and infrastructure renewal projects can go a long way to ensuring your main street is looking top notch. These sessions were helpful in teaching the ins and outs of how to schedule and manage aesthetic projects from the small to large.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

 

Thoughts on Detroit

You have no doubt heard of the trials and tribulations of the City of Detroit: the near death of the auto industry, massive population loss, infrastructure woes and high crime rates. The negative connotations have led to a public image of a city abandoned and in upheaval whereas the best-case-scenario associations portray it as a playground of urban decay and rock-bottom housing prices. When I learned that the National Main Street Conference was being held in Detroit this year, I was pleased that I would be able to see it for myself, albeit in the cocoon of a programmed conference setting.

IMG_0136

Having now been there I can make a few comments. First, it is a stunning city. There are architectural marvels (both in use and abandoned), striking parks and trail networks and an eclectic mix of things to do. Second, the city is hard at work. Travelling in and around the downtown core, there is evidence of a community working to rebuild and repair. Third, the city seems to be acutely aware of the volunteerism and resources required to improve its image. Bike patrols and on-foot clean-up crews strive to ensure the downtown core is safe and clean. Residents are cheerful and exceptionally welcoming.

This said, did I really see Detroit? Visiting as part of a conference I no doubt had a curated experience of the city and limited time for exploration. It is important to remember that there are layers that we do not understand: a history of labour and race disputes, urban renewal programs and community activism. There is a long-standing population who is probably growing weary from being under the microscope. I would encourage everyone to visit and appreciate the people, public spaces and community spirit, along with the many restaurants, sports events, markets, museums, and music that make up Detroit. However, visit with an appreciation of the modern urban realities facing the city. Acknowledge and be aware of the complex layers of economic, social and political issues (past and present) that continue to inform the fabric of the city. Detroit is a fascinating and many-faceted city and I would encourage you to make the trip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about the content of the National Main Streets Conference!

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

 

Municipal Heritage Forum 2014 – Request for Presenters

As previously announced, the 2014 Municipal Heritage Forum will be held on October 16th and 17th at the Lacombe Memorial Centre with sessions to be held in and around their award winning Main Street. The theme of this year’s forum is “New Ideas for Historic Places: Conservation through Technology and Innovation”. We are planning some exciting sessions to get you thinking about social media, mapping and documentation as well as workshops on using technology for building conservation. We hope to see you there! Registration will open and keynote speakers will be announced in June.

Image
(Note: social media graffiti not actually real!)

For those of you who have attended past Forum’s you will be familiar with the Municipal Show and Tell sessions. Show and Tell is an opportunity for municipalities and volunteer groups to present projects they have been working on to their peers. It is a great way to learn about different heritage initiatives and to make valuable contacts for the future. The challenge we always have organizing Municipal Show and Tell is that you heritage conservationists are a humble group – many of you don’t realize how interesting your projects are and how much others can learn from you. Year after year we get feedback telling us how valuable the Show and Tell is to participants so we strongly encourage you to send us your ideas or recommendations! Presentations are approximately 15 minutes long, with time for questions included. If you would like to forward an idea for the Municipal Show and Tell e-mail us at albertahistoricplaces@gov.ab.ca. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Almost Complete!

The Town of Sexsmith is now one step closer to completing their first Municipal Heritage Inventory. On April 30th the Town, in partnership with project consultant Donald Luxton and Associates Inc., held a public open house to present information on the Heritage Inventory project to the community. Approximately 14 residents attended the session to review possible themes related to the development of their community and to provide information on specific buildings.

The following day the Town’s Heritage Advisory Board (HAB) met to review the proposed Statements of Significance for 16 potential locally-significant historic resources within Town boundaries. Their local knowledge of the people and events from Sexsmith’s past provided the project consultant with valuable information. Revisions will be made to the Statements of Significance and we anticipate the final report will be presented for review by Town Council by the end of summer.

Participants in the Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Project (From left to right): Chelsea Dunk (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.), James Obniawka (HAB), David Olson (resident), Larry Anderson (HAB), Vella Anderson (HAB), Carolyn Gaunt (Town of Sexsmith), Jean Rycroft, Sam Boisvert (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.). Missing from photo: Grant Berg, Isak Skjaveland
Participants in the Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Project (From left to right): Chelsea Dunk (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.), James Obniawka (HAB), David Olson (resident), Larry Anderson (HAB), Vella Anderson (HAB), Carolyn Gaunt (Town of Sexsmith), Jean Rycroft, Sam Boisvert (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.). Missing from photo: Grant Berg, Isak Skjaveland

Originally known as Benville, Sexsmith was first settled in the early 1900s but experienced growth following the establishment of the ED&BC railway in 1916. The proximity of the community to the rail line caused expansion of agricultural production and established Sexsmith as a major hub for grain export. Sexsmith was once known as ‘The Grain Capital of the British Empire’ during the 1920s and 30s and at one time there were nine grain elevators situated adjacent to the railway. Today three remain and the Town is in the process of acquiring one for conservation purposes. The community is further characterized by its relatively intact boomtown commercial main street, located directly opposite of the rail line and by the presence of two Provincial Historic Resources: the Northern Alberta Railway Station and the Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop.

100 Street (Main Street), Sexsmith
100 Street (Main Street), Sexsmith

Heritage inventory projects are supported by the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and provide municipalities with the process and tools to assess possible historic sites within their boundaries for future municipal historic resource designation.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Fort Saskatchewan Approves Historic Precinct Site Master Plan

The City of Fort Saskatchewan is one step closer to realizing their vision for the development and interpretation of a significant community amenity through Council’s recent approval of the Historic Precinct Site Master Plan Guiding Document. Located adjacent to the City’s downtown and along the edge of the North Saskatchewan River, the Historic Precinct provides a unique opportunity to showcase the cultural history of Fort Saskatchewan and to develop a space for public learning and enjoyment.

Historic Precinct Area
Historic Precinct Area

The Approach

The Historic Precinct contains an array of man-made and natural elements that contribute to the telling of the story of Fort Saskatchewan. Project consultants EIDOS Consultants Inc. and Marshall Tittemore Architects approached the conceptualization of the space as a cultural landscape, wherein:

“An important part of the Precinct’s heritage value is found in the relics of law and order and public works, including buildings, structures, sightlines, earth mounds, plant materials and features that remain in situ. These relics constitute part of the heritage value of the area by providing tangible evidence of how it was transformed and used by the NWMP, Canadian Northern Railway, the Province and the City.” (Historic Precinct Site Master Plan, page 9).

The planning process sought to integrate local values into the final plan and therefore included public and stakeholder consultation through surveys, open houses and workshop sessions.

The City of Fort Saskatchewan’s Diane Yanch, Culture & Historic Precinct Supervisor and Richard Gagnon, Director of Culture Services display a copy of the completed Historic Precinct Master Plan
The City of Fort Saskatchewan’s Diane Yanch, Culture & Historic Precinct Supervisor and Richard Gagnon, Director of Culture Services display a copy of the completed Historic Precinct Master Plan

The Master Plan

The Master Plan involved considering the long-term development and interpretation of the historic precinct, including integration of existing Provincial Historic Resources, recommendations for pedestrian circulation and way-finding, interpretation opportunities and development of a conceptual design for a new Interpretive Centre. A detailed phasing plan was also provided to allow the City to structure implementation in a coordinated and cost-effective manner.

Historic Precinct Site Master Plan
Historic Precinct Site Master Plan

The uniqueness of the site is exemplified by the existence of three Provincial Historic Resources within its boundaries including the North West Mounted Police Post, the Fort Saskatchewan Museum (Courthouse), and the Canadian Northern Railway Station. These three historic resources are proposed to be key elements in the interpretation and programming of the Historic Precinct and are considered as Historic Precinct Nodes in the Master Plan.

  • Original 1875 Fort Site Node – This Provincial Historic Resource is presently an open native grass field and will remain untouched during development, with the long term goal of undertaking small scale research and public archaeology programs in partnership with interested academic institutions, archaeological societies and the Province of Alberta.
  •  Fort Saskatchewan Museum and Cultural Village Node – The Fort Saskatchewan Museum (Courthouse) is a designated Provincial Historic Resource. The Master Plan calls for the land surrounding the Courthouse to be utilized as a ‘cultural village’ in which historic buildings and artifacts will be displayed.
  •  Railway Node – The CNR Station will continue to be space for use by community groups. The area around the Station will be enhanced to include an opportunity to showcase other rail infrastructure, landscaping and opportunity to enhance access to the adjacent Legacy Park and farmer’s market plaza.

Other Historic Precinct Nodes proposed within the plan include a Gaol Node, Religion Node, MétisNode and First Nations Node.

Next Steps

The City will continue with planning the programming for the future Interpretive Centre with hopes of breaking ground by the end of 2014. Conservation Plans have been prepared for the Courthouse/Museum and CNR Railway Station to ensure that on-going improvements and maintenance are consistent with accepted conservation practices. In accordance with the terms of designation, approvals will be obtained for any projects within the site that will affect the Provincial Historic Resources as well as work in the vicinity of the NWMP Police Post due to the high archaeological potential of the site.

Proposed General Concept Design of the Interpretive Centre
Proposed General Concept Design of the Interpretive Centre

The Historic Precinct Master Plan was partially funded by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation under the Heritage Management Plan grant category of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program. Though Heritage Management Plans typically take the form of a document that outlines policy and a process for municipal designation, the grant category is flexible and can apply to projects that involve planning and policy development for the stewardship of historic resources more broadly. The Historic Precinct Site Master Plan is an example of how the program can be tailored to meet the unique needs of municipalities.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Crowsnest Pass Phase 2 Heritage Inventory Underway

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass contains the communities of Coleman, Blairmore, Frank, Hillcrest and Bellevue. Crowsnest Pass has a rich history in coal mining and trade unionism, and therefore, has much to offer in the way of historic resources.

20th Avenue, Blairmore
20th Avenue, Blairmore

As a result of this rich and varied history, the Municipality has acknowledged the importance of identifying places of significance in the community. Given the breadth of possible historic resources within the municipality’s boundaries, Crowsnest Pass determined that a three-phase heritage inventory would be required to comprehensively assess potential sites. The first phase was completed in 2013 and inventoried 31 sites in the Coleman area. The second phase is being completed in 2014 and is looking at historic resources in Blairmore and Frank. The third and final phase will look at historic sites in the Hillcrest and Bellevue area and is proposed to be undertaken in 2015.

55 residents attended a public open house held on April 23rd at the Blairmore Elks Hall to provide feedback on possible sites to be included in the second phase of the heritage inventory. Consultants Community Design Strategies Inc. presented 65 possible historic resources for residents to provide feedback on in terms of historical information and opinions regarding the significance of each site. The results of the open house will be reviewed by the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Historic Resource Board and refined to a list of 45 sites for further evaluation. These 45 sites will have Statements of Significance prepared for them and will be presented back to the community for further review and comment at a second open house to be scheduled later this year.

Ken Bourdeau, Development Officer with the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass and Merinda Conley, Principal with Community Design Strategies Inc. ready to speak with residents at the open house.
Ken Bourdeau, Development Officer with the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass and Merinda Conley, Principal with Community Design Strategies Inc. ready to speak with residents at the open house.

The event provided residents and property owners the opportunity to comment on the 65 places of interest and to speak with representatives of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, the Municipal Historic Resources Board and Alberta Culture about the heritage inventory project and municipal historic resource designation in general.

Heritage inventory projects are supported by the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and provide municipalities with the process and tools to assess possible historic sites within their boundaries for future municipal historic resource designation.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer