In Service of Historic Alberta: A Decade on the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Board of Directors

Languishing historic downtowns were revived, once again attracting businesses and customers. Modest but beloved churches were repaired to continue to serve their congregations and communities. An exquisite sandstone prairie mansion where history was made, the Lougheed House, was painstakingly restored to become a vital museum and events venue. These were some of the highlights of Tom Clark’s ten-year stint on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.

Tom applied to join the Foundation’s board while serving on the Clearwater County Council for two terms and while chairing the Nordegg Historical Society (which he still does). His experience working with community groups and addressing heritage conservation concerns prepared him well to fill a spot on the board.

Tom Clark, former Director of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.
Tom Clark, former Director of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.

While the Foundation supports a number of programs, “the big thing was the adjudication of funds that people have applied for over the years for their different projects,” Tom explains. “There is an awful lot in the province…that needs restoration,” he notes. To maintain their integrity, historic places need the injection of funding and technical expertise that the AHRF can bring them.

The Foundation—which gets its money from the Alberta Lottery Fund—provides funding to projects that preserve historical resources or raise awareness of heritage in Alberta. Grants are awarded through three programs: the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program, the Alberta Main Street Program, and the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program. The last two programs are specifically for municipalities, but grants from the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program are available to anyone working to conserve or increase public awareness of a historic resource. They are awarded in five categories: Historic Resources Conservation, Transportation/Industrial Artifact Conservation, Heritage Awareness, Publications, and Research. There are also two scholarships: the Roger Soderstrom Scholarship and the Bob Etherington Heritage Trades Scholarship.

Tom saw a wide range of grant recipients during his time on the board: from “a local ladies’ group that want[ed] to restore the roof of a church” to National Historic Sites such as the Medalta Potteries of Medicine Hat, and the main streets of towns such as Camrose, Lethbridge, and Olds. “We’d get the people involved who owned these buildings,” Tom remembers. “We’d give it a facelift, and people would start coming [to the historic downtowns] again. It revitalized whole communities.”

In addition, the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation oversees the Provincial Heritage Markers Program (“if you’re familiar with those big blue historic markers throughout the province,” Tom says, “we were responsible for [selecting the topics for] those”). Tom explains that the Foundation is “also responsible for [approving recommendations for] the naming of places—if you wanted to name a mountain after your grandmother [while Tom was on the board], we reviewed it” (and probably rejected it).

Grant awards and other decisions that come before the board for approval are first reviewed by subject specialists on the staff of the Historic Resources Management Branch, who make recommendations. The Branch’s staff “put together a presentation and take it to the board, and we discuss it” at one of the quarterly meetings, Tom explains. “We do a bit of background [research] on it…and we ‘yea’ or we ‘nay’ it.”

One of the most memorable aspects of the Foundation’s meetings, from Tom’s perspective, was they are held in different spots around Alberta. As a result, Tom says, “In the ten years I’ve seen an awful lot of this province, and [have seen first hand] the projects that people were doing.” Last February, the board met in the town of Olds, where board members saw several properties that have benefitted from conservation grants from the Foundation, including the Dr. Hartman Residence, the Brown Residence, the Kemp Block, and Maybank Drug Store. The Town of Olds has received much help from the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program over the years, including funding and advising to produce a heritage survey, inventory, and management plan.

Tom adds that the board is ever-mindful that its “main objective is to try and preserve as much history in the province as we possibly can—with the cooperation of others. They’re not our projects—the project belongs to the group that’s applying. It’s their project; we just help them along.”

Tom, for many years, has driven forward just such a community project. As chair of the Nordegg Historical Society, Tom has helped marshal a “good strong volunteer program” that is restoring the Nordegg/Brazeau Colliers Minesite. As Tom explains, “Nordegg was a coal-mining town, and by 1955 the need for coal had diminished. In 1955 the town shut down. There was no pride of ownership there, because it was a company town.” The site stayed closed until the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was used as minimum security camp for adolescents. After that, “It was basically a ghost town.”

Tom continues: “In the late 1980s, the Nordegg Historical Society formed and proceeded to work diligently to try to preserve some of that [history]. Over the years, we got it to the point where we can take tours of it.” It is now both a National Historic Site and a Provincial Historic Resource.

Tom’s involvement in the restoration of Nordegg/Brazeau Colliers Minesite—when a deserted coal-mining town’s heritage was resurrected, explored, and celebrated—gave him a unique perspective on how heritage can be preserved and promoted through community initiative. Tom enjoyed all aspects of serving on the Foundation: “Everything. The whole gamut. The publications, [researching] the history on different things. The naming of places—we sat and discussed the naming of spots in the mountains.” Unsurprisingly, though, given his own participation in the Nordegg restoration, Tom found the work of the AHRF in aiding individuals, community groups, and municipalities in undertaking their own heritage restoration projects the most compelling of all the Foundation’s endeavours. “It’s one of the boards [I served on] that I will truly miss,” Tom concludes. “It was certainly educational.”

Written by: Gretchen A. Albers

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

 

Old Strathcona joins the Alberta Main Street Program

AMSP LogoAfter several years of planning, and preparing a thorough application, Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district has joined the Alberta Main Street Program. Previously designated as a Provincial Historic Area in 2007, Old Strathcona is well known as one of Alberta’s most significant, historic commercial areas. The application was approved in late February by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation,  but was announced publicly for the first time last night, April 28th, at the Annual General Meeting of the Old Strathcona Foundation. This means that Old Strathcona joins a network of other dynamic, historic communities, like:

The Alberta Main Street Program uses the well established Four-Point Approach to foster excellence in historic commercial areas.

The announcement was made by Matthew Wangler, Executive Director of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, on behalf of the Honourable Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture.

Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Executive Director Matthew Wangler presents the Alberta Main Street Program Membership to Angie McDow, President of the Old Strathcona Foundation.
Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Executive Director Matthew Wangler presents the Alberta Main Street Program Membership to Angie McDow, President of the Old Strathcona Foundation.

While unable to attend in person due to commitments in Southern Alberta, Minister Klimchuk commented that Old Strathcona’s “cherished landmarks are a boon to the social, cultural and economic sustainability of the community. This is one of the reasons the Alberta Main Street Program was initiated – to help communities achieve their conservation goals for the long-term benefit of Albertans.”

2014 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Old Strathcona Foundation, which will serve as the primary sponsoring organization for the Old Strathcona Main Street Program. The “OSF” has a tremendous legacy of heritage conservation and community engagement, and the Alberta Main Street Program is looking forward to partnering with them as together we look to create a meaningful future for this already vibrant historic urban landscape.

Nominate someone for a Heritage Awards

Alberta Historical Resources FoundationThe Alberta Historical Resources Foundation presents Heritage Awards biennially to individuals, organizations and municipalities to recognise those who have protected, preserved or promoted Alberta’s heritage. The Foundation will be accepting nominations for the 2014 Heritage Awards until July 15.

Nominating a person or a group for a Heritage Award is your opportunity to help honour those Albertans whose commitment to preserving our province’s heritage must be recognised. Self-nominations are also accepted. Awards will be presented on October 16th, in conjunction with the annual Municipal Heritage Forum.

Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk, together with 2012 Heritage Award Winners
Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk, pictured together with 2012 Heritage Award Winners

The Heritage Conservation Award recognises excellent work in conserving a historic resource. The Heritage Awareness Award recognizes research or publications that enhances public understanding of Alberta’s heritage. The Municipal Heritage Preservation Award honours outstanding work by municipalities to identify, evaluate, protect or conserve locally significant historic resources. The Outstanding Achievement Award honours those extraordinary Albertans whose leadership has conserved historic resource or promoted a greater appreciation and understanding of our province’s heritage.

You can download a copy of the guidelines and nomination form from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s website. If you have any questions, please contact Carina Naranjilla, the Program Coordinator, at 780-431-2305 (toll-free by first dialling at 310-0000) or at carina.naranjilla@gov.ab.ca.

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

2014 AHRF Hertitage Awards Ad

Alberta Historical Resources Foundation visits Olds

The Alberta Historical Resource Foundation held its first quarterly board meeting of 2014 in the town of Olds on February 21st and 22nd.

Alberta Historical Resources FoundationThe Foundation’s board members and staff look forward to the quarterly meetings, each held in a different Alberta community. This allows us to meet the Albertans who work so hard to conserve and promote our heritage; seeing and experiencing the fruits of their labour is both informative and a pleasure.

Friday afternoon began with a bus tour led by Donna Erdman, chair of the Olds Historical Society. Before we boarded the bus, Mitch Thompson of the Olds Institute surprised us by asking us to turn on our smartphones. Mitch showed us the new EverythingOlds.ca website—the Heritage Sites section contains video vignettes showcasing locally significant historic resources. (There’s much more community information on the website too.)

Once the bus got underway, Donna showed us some of the historic places the Town of Olds evaluated in 2009 (with the assistance of a Foundation grant and the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program staff). Many of these places have since been designated as Municipal Historic Resources.

Our bus first stopped at the Mountain View Museum and Archives. There were several interesting displays that used locally significant historical artefacts to highlight the region’s history. We also learned a bit about their archival holdings and viewed some of the contemporary art displayed in the adjoining art gallery.

Our next stop was the former Canadian Bank of Commerce, now home to [sic] Pandora’s Boox and Tea. The beautiful, classically-detailed bank building has been adapted for its new use as a book store and coffee shop. Pandora’s is in the heart of Uptowne Olds, the town’s historic commercial district.

Upon re-boarding the bus, we were slowly driven up and down the several blocks that make up the Uptowne area. We admired the many historic resources in the Uptowne. Olds is one of four communities that the Foundation has accredited through its Alberta Main Street Program. We were impressed by the conservation projects currently being undertaken on several buildings in the Uptowne area (some with the Foundation’s support).

We briefly visited the grounds of the Olds Agricultural Society. Olds’s large Ag society is one of the olds-est (pun not intended) Agricultural Societies in Alberta, having been incorporated in 1899. Our next stop was the Olds College.

Olds College celebrated its centenary in 2013. Founded in 1913, the college is Alberta’s largest and olds-est (there I go again) rural agricultural college. The campus has evolved with the college it houses, but amidst all the modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries and dorms are at least two buildings older that the college they’ve become an integral part of: a calf barn (now home to a herd of goats) and a horse barn. Both buildings were constructed in 1911, when what is now a campus was part of a provincial demonstration farm.

We ended our visit to Olds College by visiting to their state of the art brewery: an example of how the college contributing to Alberta’s future by being true to our agricultural past. The first class of brewers will graduate shortly.

The tour was followed by a meet and greet at the Pomeroy Inn. Thanks to Michelle Jorgensen (Heritage Advisor, Town of Olds) for organising an informative and fun event. It was a pleasure to meet and speak with Mayor Judy Dahl, and with  members of the town staff, the Mountain View Museum and Archives, the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development, Olds College and many citizens of the area who build the partnerships that protect and promote Old’s wealth of historic resources.

Everyone agreed that it was an afternoon well spent that reminded us of how important our work is; it was the best way for the board to get inspired before spending their Saturday immersed in paperwork.

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The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation has been collaborating with the citizens of Olds through its grant programs for over two decades. The Town of Olds has completed a full range of heritage planning projects with the assistance of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program, including a heritage survey, inventory and management plan. As an Accredited Main Street Community, the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (Olds Main Street sponsoring organization) was recently awarded a coordinator salary subsidy along with marketing, economic development, organization and design grants. The Heritage Preservation Partnership Program has also provided technical advice and conservation grants to a number of Olds’s Municipal Historic Resources.

Written by: Carina Naranjilla, Grant Program Coordinator, Alberta Historical Resources Foundation; and Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

New Heritage Conservation Advisory Service Areas and Grant Deadlines for 2014!

Happy New Year everyone! With 2014 underway, I thought that it would be a good idea to provide a little update on the Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program.

The Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program provides technical advice and information to the owners or stewards of historic buildings on how best to maintain and conserve their historic resources. A Heritage Conservation Adviser will help you apply the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada to your project, regardless of whether or not the building is designated.

In addition to providing free conservation advice, Heritage Conservation Advisers develop the recommendations to approve alterations to Provincial Historic Resources or Registered Historic Resources on behalf of the Minister of Culture. Owners of Registered or Provincial Historic Resources need ministerial permission, under the Historical Resources Act, before altering or repairing their property. Municipal Historic Resources require the permission of their municipality.

Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program -- H.C.A. Regions of Responsibility (Nov 2013)
Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program — H.C.A. Regions of Responsibility (Nov 2013)

Please take a look at the attached map. We have changed the boundaries of the areas that individual Heritage Conservation Advisers cover. We re-draw the boundaries now and again based on the location of expected or ongoing heritage conservation projects in Alberta so as to try and share our work load equally and consequently serve our clients better.

Owners or stewards of municipally or provincially designated historic resources must consult with a Heritage Conservation Adviser before undertaking any work that they intend to seek financial assistance for from the Historic Resource Conservation grant program. This is to ensure that eligibility requirements are met and to advise on the most effective way to take advantage of this program.

The Historic Resource Conservation grant program is operated by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Heritage Preservation Partnership Program. The next application deadline for eligible conservation projects is Monday February 3rd, 2014. The Foundation will award a second batch of grants this fall. The deadline for applications for the fall grant cycle is Tuesday September 2nd, 2014.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Heritage Conservation Adviser for your area with any questions. We will do everything possible to help you, the owner or steward of a piece of our built heritage, to make the most out of your historic place. It is always our pleasure to hear from you.

Written by: Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser.

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!

Lacombe wins the Great Places in Canada competition!

Lacombe’s Historic Main Street named Best Street in Canada.

The City of Lacombe’s historic main street was just named Best Street by the Great Places in Canada competition. The Great Places in Canada competition is sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners, annually. Lacombe’s Historic Main Street was shortlisted in the Best Street category by popular vote. It was then selected as the winner by a panel of experts from the Canadian Institute of Planners. We’re thrilled that one of Alberta’s historic main streets has received national recognition.

A photo showing a block of 50th Avenue in Lacombe.
a block of 50th Avenue in Lacombe (2009)

You may recognise Lacombe’s main street—50th Avenue in Lacombe is one of Alberta’s iconic streetscapes. Most buildings in downtown Lacombe were constructed in the decade before the First World War. A building bylaw, aimed at limiting the destruction that a fire could bring, required that anything built in the downtown be constructed of brick. Many of the Edwardian-styled commercial buildings—such as the Flat Iron Building—are Alberta icons. Several of the buildings, such as the Flat Iron Building, the M & J Hardware Building and the Campbell Block are Provincial Historic Resources.

These landmarks would most likely have been lost if not for the foresight and dedication of Lacombe’s citizens. The owners of these gems took a great deal of pride undertaking the conservation work often needed. Lacombe’s forward-looking business community was an early participant in the Main Street Program (from 1987 to 1993). The rehabilitation work undertaken during this time is an important reason why so many of these buildings remain standing.

The city has since developed policies to ensure that conservation of its historic commercial district is an important part of its’ development process. The city recently completed both a Downtown Area Redevelopment and Urban Design Plan—which features detailed plans for maintaining the streetscape. The city also recently adopted a Heritage Management Plan (with the help of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program) ensuring that locally significant historic places are inventoried and can be designated as Municipal Historic Resources.

What is really fitting about this award is how it recognises the community’s involvement in these special places. 50th Avenue is not a museum piece, but a destination people go to meet friends, shop and celebrate. This is a lively area with many restaurants and businesses. The Lacombe and District Historical Society operate a museum on the main floor of the Flat Iron Building. Social service agencies and the provincial government have offices on the street or nearby. Popular annual events—the Light Up the Night Festival, the Lacombe Culture and Harvest Festival, and Lacombe days, among others—draw large crowds downtown annually.

Recent development has reinforced 50th avenue’s central place in this community. Lest We Forget Park, where the annual Remembrance Day ceremony is held, is just at the end of the commercial area. The Lacombe Memorial Centre, a (relatively) new development, contains the public library, meeting rooms and a hall, reinforce 50th avenue’s centre place in Lacombe’s daily life.

Jennifer Kirchner, Planner with the City of Lacombe, showed us around main street.
Jennifer Kirchner, Planner with the City of Lacombe, showed us around main street.

Jennifer Kircher, Lacombe’s Planner, told me about how important individual community members were in winning this award. “The Community got really excited about it”, she said. During the voting period people she hadn’t yet met came up to Jennifer to tell her they voted.

I’m sure this is just the beginning of our work with Lacombe. The re-launch of the Alberta Main Street Program brings a great opportunity to again work with Lacombe on conserving one of Alberta’s pre-eminent main streets.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.