Video Debut!

You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Have you ever stopped to read one? At the end of April I was attending meetings in the Town of Pincher Creek and came across a heritage marker telling the story of Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal. I stopped, curious to learn about an aspect of Alberta’s history. With camera in hand, I decided to also produce an impromptu video blog post. Please watch and enjoy (but bare in mind that my videography skills require some fine tuning).

Heritage marker location: east side of Highway 6, four kilometers south of the Town of Pincher Creek.

Learn more about Alberta’s heritage in the Pincher Creek area: explore the Alberta Register of Historic Places

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer Click here to read the Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal heritage marker text

What is the Alberta Register of Historic Places?


The Alberta Register of Historic Places is a database listing most historic places designated under the Historical Resources Act. If a site is designated a Provincial Historic Resource, a Registered Historic Resource or a Municipal Historic Resource it is likely included in the Register.  

Approximately 700 sites are listed in the Register. The Register contains sites from all over Alberta and includes all aspects of Alberta’s rich heritage. To learn about the designated sites in your region simply visit the site and start exploring. You can search the Register by: 

  • historic function (i.e. Bank, School, Residence)
  • current function (i.e. Fire Station, Grain Elevator)
  • ownership type (i.e. Municipal, Private, Not For Profit)
  • formal recognition type (i.e. Municipal Historic Resource, Provincial Historic Resource)
  • municipality (i.e. Brooks, Mackenzie County)
  • constituency (i.e. Wetaskiwin-Camrose riding)
  • site name (i.e. Zephyr Creek Pictographs)
  • community/nearest community (ie. Fort Vermilion, Cherry Point)
  • location (i.e. ATS-LSD Location, PBL Location)
  • map (i.e. enter a location and see which sites are in the area) 

The Alberta Register of Historic Places is administered through Alberta’s Historic Places Designation Program.  This program is responsible for identifying, evaluating and designating Provincial Historic Resources, updating and maintaining the Alberta Register of Historic Places, and submitting eligible sites to the Canadian Register of Historic Places.   

Sites listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places are eligible for listing on the Canadian Register of Historic Places; a national database listing formally recognized historic places from all across Canada. Visit the Canadian Register and explore from “coast to coast to coast” the varied historic places of local, provincial, territorial and national significance.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

The Power of QR Codes


Most people interested in historic places enjoy learning about site history. For instance, the public may like to learn about detailed historical information, heritage values and information pertaining to site location. Throughout Alberta (and listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places), there are 339 Provincial Historic Resources, two Provincial Historic Areas, 211 Registered Historic Resources and approximately 157 Municipal Historic Resources. How could information about these sites be shared with the public? 

What are QR Codes? 

The emergence of small adaptable square bar codes called QR codes could be an option. QR (Quick Response) codes are funny looking square bar codes that can be scanned from your cell phone’s camera, provided your phone is enabled with decoding software. Each code can be embedded with all kinds of information including text, URLs or other data. 

QR Code (bottom right-hand corner) featured on a Government of Alberta advertisement.

My first experience with QR codes was three years ago when I participated in an urban race in Edmonton. The race was part scavenger hunt and part puzzle solving, which largely involved finding particular locations by solving riddles about Edmonton and completing certain tasks. A portion of the race involved using your cell phone to find QR Codes.  Since the race, I have noticed a gradual increase in the use of QR codes. They are in advertisements and located on the packaging of various consumer products. 

The Japanese, creators of the QR code, wanted a way to embed content that could be quickly decoded. Created in 1994, the Japanese have integrated the QR code into their everyday life. In a place so densely populated, where lack of space is an issue, the QR code allows for much more information to be available to those who want it. Although QR codes are most commonly used for reading a URL and accessing a website, QR codes in Japan are also being used in unique ways. QR codes can be used to allow people to purchase items from cashless vending machines by scanning QR codes with their cell phones. 

Check out the QR Code for Ophelia Liew's email address.

QR Codes and Historic Places: 

Could QR codes be used to provide information on individual historic places, and also for walking tours, historic districts and areas? The compact size, the ease in generating new codes and the popularity of camera enabled cell phones are all factors that suggest the ease of using QR codes. It would be interesting to investigate if QR codes could be used as a new and effective medium for displaying and accessing information about Alberta’s historic places. 

Heritage Conservation Advisors would find this technology useful as we refer to two main conservation management tools on a daily basis: the Statement of Significance (SoS) and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Each designated historic resource in the province has a Statement of Significance, a one or two page document that outlines the site’s heritage values and character-defining elements. Anyone with an appropriate type of cell phone would have the ability to retrieve the Statement of Significance by being directed to the Alberta Register of Historic Places. 

Written by: Ophelia Liew, Heritage Conservation Advisor

Read about where we work! Check out the QR Code for Old St. Stephen's College's Statement of Significance.

Municipalities: To Conserve and Protect

In every city, town, village and county you find special places illustrating each community’s heritage. Have you ever wondered how locally significant historic places are recognized and protected?

In Alberta, municipalities can designate these places as Municipal Historic Resources. Each Council decides what deserves to be designated. A designated site remains private property—the only difference is that the owner needs to have the municipality’s permission before altering it.

Sites like the D.U. Ranchlands Cabin gives us a glimpse of how homesteaders lived in the southern foothills around 1900, while the Trapper’s Shack shows us how fur traders lived in Fort Vermilion around the same time. The Acadia Block has been part of downtown Lethbridge’s business district since 1909. The Mill Creek Trestle Bridge reveals how we traveled before cars were affordable. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church north of Lamont is full of beautiful artwork painted by famed iconographer Peter Lipinski.

You can find 154 Municipal Historic Resources (including the ones mentioned above) on the Alberta Register of Historic Places with more added all the time. Check out the Register to learn more about some of the special places that can show us how Albertans have lived. 

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer