Municipal Historic Resource designation refresher series: determining significance

Editor’s note: Welcome to the second post in a series of blog posts developed with municipalities in mind who either have or are considering undertaking Municipal Historic Resource designation. In this post, we will be discussing how to determine if a historic place is eligible for designation.You can read the first post here.

For more information, please review the “Creating a Future” manuals available here or contact Rebecca Goodenough, Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation at rebecca.goodenough@gov.ab.ca or 780-431-2309.


Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator, Sandy Aumonier, Heritage Conservation Adviser and Allan Rowe, Historic Places Research Officer.


Determining significance

Typically, most folks agree that preserving significant historic resources in our province is important. While it is relatively easy to identify the ‘old’ stuff, how do you go about determining which historic resources are significant and should be considered for protection?

In order to be considered for protection as a Municipal Historic Resource (MHR), a site needs to:

  • be an eligible resource type
  • possess historical significance
  • have sufficient material integrity

If a site meets all three of these of these criteria, it can be considered for MHR designation.

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Municipal Historic Resource designation refresher series: Determining eligibility

Written by: Peter Melnycky, Historian, Historic Resources Management Branch

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts developed with municipalities in mind who either have or are considering undertaking Municipal Historic Resource designation. This series is intended to serve as a refresher on how to evaluate sites, develop Statements of Significance, determine periods of significance and develop Statements of Integrity.

For more information, please review the “Creating a Future” manuals available here or contact Rebecca Goodenough, Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation at rebecca.goodenough@gov.ab.ca or 780-431-2309.

Determining eligibility

In our first post, we will be discussing how to determine if a historic place is eligible for designation.

Historic resources include structures, buildings, landscape and archaeological features, all of which can be considered for protection by a municipality. Under the Historical Resources Act, municipalities have the ability to designate historic resources under a bylaw to ensure their protection.

historic-resources-act
The Historical Resources Act (Source: Historic Resources Management Branch).

In order to be considered for protection as a Municipal Historic Resource, a site needs to:

  • Be an eligible resource type
  • Possess historical significance
  • Have sufficient material integrity

If a site meets all three of these of these criteria, it can be considered for Municipal Historic Resource designation.

Read more

Municipal Historic Resources spotlight: Westmount, Edmonton

Editor’s note: The image above is of the famous Roxy Theatre on 124 St. Opened in 1938, the theatre was destroyed by a fire in 2015. The theatre is currently being rebuilt. The image is courtesy of the Edmonton Historical Board.

Written by: Jared Majeski, Historic Resources Management Branch

Continuing along in our series spotlighting Municipal Historic Resources (MHRs) around the province, we move along to the historic Westmount neighbourhood in west-central Edmonton.

Thought to have been named after a suburb in Montréal, Westmount is known for many Craftsman-inspired single family detached houses along tree-lined boulevards between 123 St. to 127 St. and 107 Ave. to 111 Ave. You get the feeling of being transported back in time when you’re walking or riding your bike down one of these streets. And since the City of Edmonton officially recognized the historic significance of this, the Westmount Architectural Heritage Area (WAHA), the heritage value of this important Edmonton neighbourhood will hopefully be supported for decades to come.

Let’s take a look at a few properties in the area that make this neighbourhood unique.

Marshall Hopkins Residence

The Marshall Hopkins Residence is valued for its association with the early development of the Westmount neigbourhood during Edmonton’s population boom in the pre-war period
The Marshall Hopkins Residence is valued for its association with the early development of the Westmount neigbourhood during Edmonton’s population boom in the pre-war period.

Built in 1912, the Marshall Hopkins Residence on 126 Street is significant as an early example of wood-framed, Foursquare construction. This architectural design was popular at the time for its simple design and efficient floor plans.

The two-storey residence is significant for its association with Marshall W. Hopkins, Chief Land Surveyor for the Alberta Land Titles Office, who was the first occupant of the residence from c. 1913 to 1914. In addition, the Marshall Hopkins Residence is also significant for its association with the Canadian National Railway as it was home to a number of occupants who were employed by the company after the Canadian National Railway arrived in Edmonton in 1905.

The residence was officially designated an MHR in May 2019.

Ellen Elliot Residence

ellen-elliot
The Elliot Residence is significant as an early example of a front gabled dwelling with Craftsmen design elements influences, and for its associations with an early owner and builder.

The Ellen Elliot Residence on 125 Street is unique in a number of ways, least of all due to the fact that the first resident and owner of the building was a woman. Mrs. Ellen Elliot, widow of Thomas Elliot (who may have been a builder), purchased the property which would have been rare and unusual at that time. She lived in the residence until 1932.

Design elements of the two-storey building include the original wood frame construction, with horizontal wood siding on the lower level and wood shingle siding in gable peaks, and a front gabled-roof addition and porch. Fire insurance maps of the area show the original structure with a veranda in 1913. However, city records indicate that the house was built in 1920. The 1920 date may have come from when the front porch was captured and brought into the house as an extension of the living room and the mudroom.

This property was designated an MHR in June 2019.

Walton L. Smith Residence

walton-smith
The Smith residence is one of many similar Craftsman Influenced houses built in the neighbourhood in the first quarter of the 20th century, and demonstrates the popularity of this style in the early days of west Edmonton and other prestigious neighbourhoods.

The 1914 two-storey Walton L. Smith Residence is a wood frame construction with strong Craftsman design influences. It has horizontal wood siding on the lower level, and wood shingles on the upper levels and façade. The roof is a slightly bellcast, medium pitch gable, with exposed rafters and decorative brackets on the front-facing gable. An offset closed porch with a slightly bellcast gable roof is on the right hand side of the façade.

As interesting as the design of this property is the story of its original building applicant, who ironically, never actually lived in the house at all.

This residence was constructed following application for a building permit at the site on May 14, 1914. Robert W. Hedley, the applicant, was prominent in Edmonton affairs. Born and educated in Ontario at the University of Toronto and Hamilton Normal College, he then taught until moving to Edmonton in 1912. Hedley was Art Supervisor for the Edmonton Public School Board from 1914 until 1929. He designed the art course for Alberta high schools in 1922. Hedley taught art at University of Alberta summer sessions, and was appointed to the Normal School staff in 1929, serving as a lecturer in art and math. Hedley retired in 1937, but remained active in the local art scene, becoming director of the Edmonton Museum of Arts from 1943 to 1951. Hedley organized the western Canadian art circuit, adult and children’s classes and a women’s society to support the Edmonton Museum of Arts. He received an Honourary LLD from the

University of Alberta in 1953, a citation from the College Art Association of America in 1955, and became the first Albertan to receive a Fellowship from the Royal Society of Arts. He was an arts critic for the Edmonton Journal for many years. Hedley died on November 16, 1965, having never lived in the house he originally applied to build in 1914.

This residence was designated an MHR in June 2019.

Griffin Residence

The house is located within the Westmount Architectural Heritage Area. Throughout history the neighbourhood of Westmount has retained a strong sense of architectural character, and is noted for its large collection of single detached homes, that were built between 1911 and 1925.
The house is located within the Westmount Architectural Heritage Area. Throughout history the neighbourhood of Westmount has retained a strong sense of architectural character, and is noted for its large collection of single detached homes, that were built between 1911 and 1925.

Built in 1922, Griffin Residence on 125 Street is significant for its Arts and Crafts influences, in particular, Craftsman style elements. This design style first appeared in the last years of the 19th century and remained popular until the 1930s.

The residence features a medium pitched gable roof, with projecting eaves, exposing original wood rafters, soffits, fascia, and brackets. It is clad with wood clapboard siding on the upper portion, and wood shingles on the lower portion of the residence, and in all the peaks of the gables. The enclosed front veranda has a hipped roof with an offset medium pitched gable over the entrance. Both the east and west elevations feature pitched gables, with bay windows. The residence is located on a residential street in the Westmount neighbourhood, one of Edmonton’s most mature neighbourhoods, where the majority of lots still maintain their original structures.

Griffin Residence was designated an MHR in August 2018.

Street Railway Substation No. 600

Street Railway Substation No. 600 is significant as a rare and well preserved example of the Art Deco Style of architecture in Edmonton.
Street Railway Substation No. 600 is significant as a rare and well preserved example of the Art Deco Style of architecture in Edmonton.

Constructed in 1938, Street Railway Substation No.600 is a one storey brick and concrete building designed in the Art Deco Style, located on a commercial portion of 124 Street in the neighbourhood of Westmount.

This substation is significant for its association with the development of the Westmount neighbourhood. Westmount is one of the oldest residential subdivisions in Edmonton. After 1911, residents of the neighbourhood could commute downtown on the electric streetcar that ran south from 110 Avenue along 124 Street before turning east along Jasper Avenue. As the neighbourhood grew and demand placed on the west end section of the street railway increased, it was necessary to build Street Railway Substation No. 600 to house equipment which reduced the loss of electricity from the lines, allowing the street railway to operate more efficiently.

The substation was designated an MHR in May 2017.

These recently designated Municipal Historic Resources join seven other Westmount neighbourhood resources previously designated by the City of Edmonton:

By designating these properties as Municipal Historic Resources, the City of Edmonton is ensuring the preservation of the heritage character of the Westmount neighbourhood.

Sources:

Edmonton Historical Board

Historic Places and Designation, Heritage Division, Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

Heritage Resources Management Information Systems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELIZABETH STREET SCHOOL, MEDICINE HAT – MUNICIPAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

In February 2016, the City of Medicine Hat designated the Elizabeth Street School as a Municipal Historic Resource. In September, a plaque about the school’s history and designation was unveiled. The school is the most recent of Medicine Hat’s historic resources to be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

a10594
Elizabeth Street School during construction, ca. 1912. The school’s Classical Revival details, notably the cornice at the roofline and the keystone and voissoir details around the entryways, are evident.
Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta, A10594

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LETHBRIDGE’S ANNANDALE DESIGNATED A PROVINCIAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

The residence known as Annandale, one of Lethbridge’s best known heritage homes, has been designated as a Provincial Historic Resource and is listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Exterior of Annandale in Lethbridge from the northwest, showing the entry porch with large arches, the wood shingle siding, bow windows and dormer window. September 2009. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.
Exterior of Annandale in Lethbridge from the northwest, showing the entry porch with large arches, the wood shingle siding, bow windows and dormer window. September 2009. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

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Can’t Touch This!

Misunderstandings about alterations to designated historic resources

Now and again, I receive a call or a question from someone who appears to be under the impression that their Provincial or Municipal Historic Resource cannot be “altered” and that it must be “preserved” as is.  That is not entirely true.  Under Alberta’s Historical Resources Act, “no person shall destroy, disturb, alter, restore or repair any historic resource…without the written approval from the minister (Section 20-9)” if the site is a Provincial Historic Resource.  For Municipal Historic Resources, the written approval must come from “the council or a person appointed by the council for the purpose (Section 26-6).”  To obtain a written approval, the proposed alteration must be evaluated under the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Place in Canada.

The Standards and Guidelines is a pan-Canadian document that is used as a tool to evaluate and sometimes enforce certain principles in the conservation of our historic resources.  There are four major components to the document: the conservation decision-making process, the conservation treatments, the standards, and the guidelines – with each component going into more and more detail.  The most critical of these is the “conservation decision-making process”.  This process involves three stages that I like to refer to as the acronym U.P.I. (pronounced whoopee!) or Understanding, Planning, and Intervening.

The designation of a historic resource implies that we are trying to conserve it for future generations as part of our shared heritage.  Understanding why a designation was put in place is the first step in determining what can and can’t be touched.  This is summarised in a Statement of Significance (SoS).  Each designated historic resource has one.  If you do not know what the SoS for your designated building contains, you can search for it on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Planning is the most important part of any project and for historic resources it is critical in order to avoid mistakes and the potential damage or loss of heritage fabric – usually listed as character-defining elements within a SoS.  As a Heritage Conservation Adviser, it is part of my job to help you understand and plan (and subsequently recommend approvals for Provincial Historic Resources) for projects that will affect your historic resource before any intervening occurs.  When someone indicates to me that they will be going straight to an intervention (i.e. actual physical alteration to a historic resource) without any understanding or planning having taken place, I will tend to react like the guy in this video clip.

Ok, well maybe on the inside.  Suffice it to say, that intervening without understanding or planning is not recommended.  Although I did find the guy in the video’s treatment of the new homeowner’s lack of respect for their heritage building interesting – would you agree?!

Written by:  Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser.

Managing Lacombe’s Heritage

I had the pleasure of attending the City of Lacombe’s Heritage Open House on February 28th. The city presented a draft of their heritage management plan for community perusal and input. The event was hosted by Lacombe’s Heritage Preservation Program at the beautiful St. Andrew’s United Church hall. People started arriving from the moment the doors opened and kept coming until the end, asking great questions about Lacombe’s Heritage Preservation Program. The turnout was wonderful. You can read a bit more about the event itself at the City of Lacombe’s blog.

City of Lacombe, Heritage Management Plan Open House - 20130228-00010Lacombe’s Heritage Management Plan will ensure that locally significant historic resources are identified, protected and systematically conserved. Under the plan, the Lacombe Heritage Steering Committee will continue to revise and update the municipal heritage inventory begun in spring of 2011. The city will soon be able to protect locally significant historic places using new policies governing the designation of Municipal Historic Resources. The final elements will be the plan to evaluate changes to designated resources to insure they retain their heritage value.

The plan will be complete and finalized in the coming months. We’ll bring you more information on the plan when it’s complete. The City of Lacombe can soon begin designating its first Municipal Historic Resources. Stay tuned.

For those who are interested in Lacombe’s heritage, you may wish to check out their facebook page: I ♥ Lacombe Heritage.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

County of Two Hills sees Shandro Church listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places

Shandro Church - West and North ElevationsIn 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.

Read more about the heritage values associated with the Shandro Church; visit the Alberta Register of Historic Paces.

Wheatland County Lists Historic Resources on the Alberta Register of Historic Places

St. Andrew's Anglican Church_September 12 2012Wheatland 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.

Cenotaph, Wheatland CountyThe 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

County of Minburn: Conserving Ukrainian Canadian Historic Places

Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchThe 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.

Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchThe 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