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.
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.
Founded four decades ago, the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation has evolved into a complex agency that serves a range of stakeholders in many ways. The foundation is the primary source of Government of Alberta funding for heritage projects. The foundation focuses on a few key objectives:
providing financial and program support to individuals and organizations engaged in researching, preserving, and promoting greater appreciation for Alberta’s heritage;
naming geographical features in the province;
staging events that support the heritage community; and
acting as an appeal body for certain decisions made in Alberta Culture.
Members are appointed for terms of up to three years. The board meets four times per year for about a day and a half per meeting at locations around the province. Board members are also occasionally asked to attend events within the heritage community.
Interested individuals can submit their applications through the Government of Alberta Careers website. The posting number is 1019525. The competition closes on October 3, 2013.
Should you have any questions about the board positions, please contact Matthew Wangler, Executive Director of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. Mr. Wangler can be reached at 780-438-8503 (toll-free by first dialing 310-0000) or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Written by: Matthew Wangler, Executive Director, Alberta Historical Resources Foundation
In 2012, the County of Two Hills passed a bylaw to designate the Russo Greek Catholic Orthodox Parish of St. Mary at Shandro, also known simply as the “Shandro Church,” as a Municipal Historic Resource. It is principally significant for its association to pioneers from Bukovyna, its connection with Bishop Tikhon, and its unique design and construction. The construction of St. Mary’s Church began and was supervised by members of the Shandro clan, who arrived in the Willingdon area in 1899 during one of the great waves of Ukrainian immigration into Alberta. The Shandro family came to play a prominent role in the Ukrainian community in Alberta.
Wheatland County recently designated two Municipal Historic Resources that are now listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. You can find Wheatlead County a few kilometres east of the City of Calgary and adjacent to the Siksika Indian Reserve. The area was settled in the 1890s and the two sites reflect very different themes in Alberta’s history.
The St. Andrew’s Anglican Church is a small church located in the Hamlet of Gleichen, just north of Siksika Nation. It was built in 1885 by Anglican missionaries to the Blackfoot nation. The descendants of the Blackfoot people and the area’s settlers worship here to this day. This little chruch is quite likely one of the oldest Anglican churches in Alberta.
The Gleichen War Memorial Cenotaph is located in the Hamlet of Gleichen as well. Is was built in 1920 as a monument to the 51 men from the area who lost their lives while fighting for Canada in World War I. Plaques have subsequently been added to honour soldiers from the area who died during the Second World War, the Korean War and the mission to Afghanistan.
Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
The County of Minburn recently listed one of its newly designated Municipal Historic Resources on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Dormition of St. Mary of Sich-Kolomea (otherwise known as Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox Church) is one of the many historic resources that tell us about Ukrainian Canadian settlers.
The Sich-Kolomea church is valued by the county because of what it conveys about the Ukrainian Canadians setters who built it. The church served the pioneer farmers of the area, and was the first church in what was to become the Vegreville mission district. It is also a beautiful example of the Canadian interpretation of the Byzantine style of church architecture seen in many eastern rite churches built on the Canadian prairies.
There are many municipal and provincial historic resources that tell us about the Ukrainian Canadian settlers in east-central Alberta. You can use the advanced search features of the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the places that form their legacy.
Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
A recent Municipal Historic Resource listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places is Bremner House, located in rural Strathcona County. It is a large two and one half storey residence constructed in the early 1900’s. Heritage values associated with Bremner House include the aesthetic significance of the scale, style and location of the building as well as its representation of the cultural growth and development of Strathcona County during the first half of the 20th Century.
Are you curious if places in your community are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places? Complete an Advanced Search by “municipality” and see what is found. Only sites formally designated as either Municipal Historic Resources, Provincial Historic Resources or Registered Historic Resources are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.
Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
Listing a Municipal Historic Resource on the Alberta Register of Historic Places is normally the last step in protecting a locally significant historic place. There are several types of historic places that cannot be listed on the register. Understanding which ones are ineligible will help you understand what a historic place is and understand the purpose of designation under the Historical Resources Act.
Only sites that are protected because of the heritage value they possess are eligible for listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. The register is a database containing information on places that have been protected because of their historical or archaeological significance. The register is not a list of sites that are of historical interest – that would be the Alberta Heritage Survey Program database.
Some types of resources cannot be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Properties that cannot be listed include:
a property outside municipal jurisdiction;
a property that cannot be designated as a historic resource pursuant to the Historical Resources Act;
small movable objects;
modern reconstructions, no matter how accurate, of a historic place; or
a building, structure or object situated in a historic park or village (like Heritage Park in Calgary).
What are some examples of these types of property? Sites owned by the Crown cannot be designated as municipal historic resources. So, post offices owned by Canada Post or a provincial court house cannot be listed. Certain types of property (such as cemeteries) are regulated under other provincial laws (such as the Cemeteries Act). Conflicts between the Historical Resources Act and other provincial statutes can occasionally annul the protective nature of designation. When this is the case, those sites cannot be listed because they are not, in practice, protected.
A historic place that clearly does not have heritage value cannot be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. A contemporary reconstruction of a historic place, no matter how well executed, is by nature not a historic place. Reconstructions are built from the perspective of the present and use modern tools and materials. It’s unlikely that a reproduction will accurately reproduce a historic place in minute detail. Historic parks or villages are even worse in this respect. A historic park does not reproduce a historic streetscape in its original location. They are artificial groupings of buildings that have been created for purposes of interpretation.
These are only the most obvious exemptions. There are other more subjective exemptions, like birthplaces, moved resources and things less than 50 years old. I will discuss those exemptions in an upcoming blog post. If you’d like to know more about exceptions to listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places, you can download the Evaluating Historic Places manual from the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website.
Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
At one time, more than 800 communities in Alberta had a train station. This is no longer the case. Fewer than 10% of Alberta’s train stations remain today, and even fewer continue to serve their original purpose. The Canadian Northern Railway Station at Big Valley – designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2005 – is one of those few. Train excursions run regularly from Stettler to Big Valley, often with the mighty 6060 Steam Locomotive (also a Provincial Historic Resource) in the lead.
The Big Valley CNoR station received a restoration grant from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation this year, just in time for its 100th birthday. The Canadian Northern Society is planning a big party in honour of the centenary on Saturday, September 29. Check out the poster! Make sure your visit includes the roundhouse, which was designated along with the railway station. Another site worthy of note in Big Valley is St. Edmund’s Anglican Church – the Blue Church at the top of the hill – which was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2002.
The City has been collaborating with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program for several years to identify, evaluate, and protect Lethbridge’s significant historic places. They have developed a Heritage Management Plan, established a Heritage Advisory Committee, and Downtown Lethbridge is an Accredited Alberta Main Street community.
These three new listings complement the properties already designated by the City. Congratulations Lethbridge!
Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services