Conservation at the E.P. Ranch

E.P. (Prince Edward) Ranch, established by the Bedingfeld family in 1886, is located in the foothills southwest of Calgary near the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. In 1919, during a cross-Canada tour, the Bedingfeld’s ranch captured the fancy of His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales, upon his visit to the area.  Prince Edward purchased the ranch shortly thereafter from Frank Bedingfeld. Under Edward’s direction, the ranch developed a breeding program for sheep, cattle, and horses with livestock imported from the Prince’s breeding farms in the Duchy of Cornwall in England.  Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, visited the ranch in the 1920s and in the 1940s and 1950s, after his abdication, as the Duke of Windsor.  Photographs in the Glenbow Archives show Edward and his wife Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, strolling among the ranch buildings that still stand at the site today. The E.P. Ranch was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2004 for its association with Edward, who owned the site from 1919 to 1962. Fans of the 1992 movie Unforgiven will also recognize scenes shot on location at the ranch.

The main ranch (or Prince's) house prior to restoration, April 2014.
The main ranch (or Prince’s) house prior to restoration, April 2014.

In June 2013, the E.P. Ranch found itself at the epicentre of the torrential rains that flooded communities and historic sites across southern Alberta. Pekisko Creek overflowed its banks and swept through the site, turning grazing lands into a virtual river.  While the large and distinctive horse barn was unaffected, four other buildings were damaged. Read more

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.

Read more

HANNA’S CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY ROUNDHOUSE DESIGNATED A PROVINCIAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

A recent Government of Alberta information bulletin announced a new Provincial Historic Resource. Check it out:

In August, 2015, a rare and important piece of Alberta’s railroading and transportation heritage has been designated as a provincial historic resource.

Exterior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, showing the large, double doors, which provide access to the locomotive stalls. The turntable and bridge are in the foreground, September 2014. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.
Exterior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, showing the large, double doors, which provide access to the locomotive stalls. The turntable and bridge are in the foreground, September 2014. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

Read more

Alberta’s Wooden Country Grain Elevators

This post was originally published on RETROactive on March 6th, 2012. Farmers across the province will soon be busy with harvest so we thought it appropriate to highlight a previous post associated with Alberta’s agricultural past. Please note that these statistics are from 2012.

The twentieth century saw the rise and fall – literally – of the wooden country grain elevator in Alberta. As rail lines spread across the province, grain elevators sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rain. The high water mark for wooden country grain elevators was in 1934. New elevators were added in every decade, but this has been exceeded by the rate of demolition or closure ever since. Check out the following “index” of Alberta’s wooden country elevators, called “elevators” for short in this list.

Rowley Grain Elevator Row, Provincial Historic Resource

Number of elevators in Alberta:

  • in 1934:  1,781
  • in 1951:  1,651
  • in 1982:  979
  • in 1997: 327
  • in 2005: 156
  • in 2012 on railway rights-of-way:  130

Number of communities with:

  • at least one elevator:  95
  • 2 or more elevators:  26
  • 3 or more elevators:  7
  • 4 or more elevators:  1 (Warner)
Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator Site Complex, Meeting Creek, Provincial Historic Resource

Additional statistics:

  • Number of elevators in Alberta’s longest row:  6
  • Oldest remaining elevator: 1905 (Raley)
  • Number of remaining elevators that pre-date 1910:  3 (Raley, St. Albert, De Winton)
  • Newest remaining elevator: 1988 (Woodgrove)
  • Decade with the largest number of surviving elevators:  1920s (33)
  • Decade with the second largest number of surviving elevators:  1980s (26)
  • Decade with the fewest (after pre-1910) number of surviving elevators:  1940s (5)
  • Number of elevators that have been designated a Provincial Historic Resource (PHR):  13
  • Number of communities with at least one elevator designated as a PHR:  10
  • Oldest designated elevator: 1906 (St. Albert)
  • Newest designated elevator:  Leduc (1978)
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, Paradise Valley, Provincial Historic Resource

For a list of communities in Alberta with designated and non-designated elevators, please click here.

Please Note:

  • Grain elevators that have been moved off railway rights-of-way – to a farmyard or a museum, for instance – are not included in these statistics.
  • Grain elevators located on railway rights-of-way where the rails have been torn up are included in these statistics.
  • Concrete or steel elevators are not included.
  • Elevators used for other purposes, such as seed cleaning or fertilizer storage, are not included.
  • Most of these elevators were last documented by the Heritage Survey in 2005. It is possible that some of the elevators on the list are now gone.

Additional Information:

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

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

Coming in Low

The story of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator at Leduc.

A photograph of the former Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator at Leduc, taken in 2007.
Leduc Grain Elevator in 2007. Photo by Judy Larmour, Courtesy of Alberta Legacy Development Society.

Have any elevator enthusiasts out there ever noticed that the former Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator at Leduc looks a little different? It is a unique low-profile version of the Pool’s single composite 130,000 bushel elevator built on a standard plan during the 1960s and 1970s. It’s also unique as the only grain elevator that lies directly under the flight path to the main runway of an international airport and therein lies a story.

In 1976 the Alberta Wheat Pool revealed its intent to build a new elevator at the siding in Leduc. It wanted an elevator that would have a large enough capacity to replace all their aging elevators on the row, allowing for easier and more efficient grain handling. A single composite elevator built to the standard design stood normally over 27 meters hight (approximately 90 feet). This was considered a navigational hazard for airplanes approaching the airport—too high to get clearance from Transport Canada. So the Alberta Wheat Pool engineers went back to the drawing board to adjust the design, reducing its height. Transport Canada was satisfied with the new design, gave the green light and Leduc issued a building permit. Work began under AWP construction foreman Jim Pearson in spring 1978.

All elevators were basically built the same way. First a hole was excavated, cement foundation pads were poured and the steel pan set flush in the pit. The crew began construction of the sturdy cribbed walls, built to withstand the weight of the grain. The cribbing timbers were laid flat and spiked together. The cribbing of the exterior walls continued in rounds, in step with the cribbing of the inside bins, so that the elevator rose at an even height. As the cribbing progressed the crew installed the leg to elevate the grain, the distribution spout or gerber, the hopper and scales on the work floor, and the loading spout to the track below. The cupola on top was put together with pre-cut wood studs and shiplap or plywood walls. Finally the driveway was added, and the whole structure was clad with wood siding.

At Leduc, as Pearson later explained, changes had to be made to the standard plan. Instead of the standard 67 foot walls, the walls and bins were cribbed up only 59 feet, and the cribbing strength was reduced proportionately to the overall height of the building. The standard rounds of 2 by 6 cribbing were reduced by 5 feet and the higher 2 by 4 cribbing by 3 feet. To partially compensate for the lost volume, the design incorporated an annex 10 feet longer than was standard, giving the structure a footprint of 38 feet by 100 feet.

Lowering the walls 8 feet was still not enough to meet the required height restrictions. Another factor came into play. Elevators compress when they are filled with grain. The term telescope is used to describe a number of ways to allow the building to move in response to changing loads without causing damage to the structure. Normally, the leg is in one piece, so the cupola must be high enough to clear it as the elevator compresses. The Pool, wishing to install two metal legs—one for receiving grain and one for shipping, as was common by the 1970s—had to devise special legs at Leduc. They were telescoped in the middle and moved with the elevator to allow a lower profile than the standard one piece leg. A floating pulley in the pit took up the slack in the belt inside the leg. This one-of-a-kind system designed by Pool engineers allowed them to construct the cupola thirty inches below the regular height. When the new elevator was complete it was about the same height as the three 1920s elevators that it replaced.

The flight path-friendly elevator, with a capacity of 121, 000 bushels, was more expensive than a standard elevator. It cost $592,752 to build and opened in December 1978—the official ribbon cutting deferred until April 1979. It proudly served the farmers of Leduc until July 2000. When its days were clearly numbered and it, too, was faced with demolition the newly formed Alberta Legacy Development Society sprang into action to ensure its survival. Designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 2003 and with fresh coat of paint in September 2007, it flaunts the once familiar and omnipresent Alberta Wheat Pool crest and logo.

So the next time you fly over Leduc into Edmonton, just before landing, look down to spot Alberta’s special stubby, one of the last Alberta Wheat Pool single-composite elevators standing and still the tallest building in downtown Leduc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Written by: Judy Larmour.

Rutherford House Winter Exhibit

The Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum Christmas season exhibit is now on display. This year the exhibit is Winter in Edmonton – Weather, Entertainment and Survival. The exhibit runs from December 2013 until January 24, 2014.

Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum in winter (2005).
Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum in winter (2005).

Edmonton is a winter city. That undeniable fact was clearly demonstrated a few weeks ago when the thermometer dropped to -30°C. On cold and snowy days many of us stay inside our centrally-heated homes and shudder as we look out over wind-swept, icy and snow-covered streets and sidewalks.

A selection of winter-related artifacts from the Rutherford House collection and the Royal Alberta Museum are on display at the Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum until January 24, 2014.
A selection of winter-related artifacts from the Rutherford House collection and the Royal Alberta Museum are on display at the Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum until January 24, 2014.

Winter is not all cold and dreariness, of course. Winter is a season of fun and outdoor games. It is a season of snowmen and skating parties, of shinny and skiing. It is a season of companionship amongst friends and family, of hot chocolate and large meals.

Whether you enjoy bracing walks outside or a book by a warm fire inside, have you ever wondered how did Edmontonians of the 1910s to the 1930s deal with winter? How did they keep warm outside? How did they heat their homes? How did they get around their community? What did they do for fun in the snow? What did they do when it was too cold to go outside?

Interpretive panels and archival photographs explain and illustrate how Edmontonians survived and enjoyed winter in the 1920s and 1930s.
Interpretive panels and archival photographs explain and illustrate how Edmontonians survived and enjoyed winter in the 1920s and 1930s.

Visit the Winter in Edmonton exhibit at the Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum for the answers to these questions and to learn about this Provincial Historic Resource – one of Edmonton’s early architectural gems and the historic family home of Alberta’s first Premier.

The Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum is located on the University of Alberta campus at 11153 Saskatchewan Drive. Winter hours are 12 (noon) until 5:00pm, Tuesday through Sunday. While you are there, stop and visit the newly re-opened gift shop for great Christmas stocking stuffers.

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator.

Interpreting an Icelandic Settlement

Markerville Tour Booklet Re-vamped and Re-launched!

cover of the Markerville & District Historical Tour booklet
Markerville & District Historical Tour booklet

The Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society has just published a 3rd edition of the Markerville tour booklet. Re-named Icelandic Settlement: Markerville and District Historical Tour, the revised and re-designed booklet is packed with information and historic photographs.

Starting in the late 19th century, settlers of Icelandic descent arrived and started building a community on the banks of the Medicine River. The hamlet of Markerville never grew to any great size, but it was a vibrant community with several businesses as well as a church and hall. The Icelandic heritage of the early settlers gave Markerville a distinctive character.

Today, Markerville has four Provincial Historic Resources that help tell its story. The Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society owns and operates three: the Markerville Creamery, the Markerville Lutheran Church, and the Fensala Hall. The Stephansson Memorial, located just across the Medicine River in Markerville Park, is also a Provincial Historic Resource.

Close by is another Provincial Historic Resource, the Stephan G. Stephansson House, home of an early settler who became famous for his poetry in the Icelandic language. The house is also the centerpiece of the Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site, one of the interpretative sites run by Alberta Culture.

Markerville is located southwest of Red Deer, at the centre of Alberta’s historic Icelandic settlement area. This part of the province is not only scenic, it has a wealth of historic interest as well.

The tour booklet provides background information, and a route map to guide you through the tour.

Alberta Culture assisted the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society in revising the tour booklet; the society also received funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation to assist with the cost of its publication. Copies of the booklet are available from the Society at the Markerville Creamery Historic Site in Markerville.

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

Alberta Historical Resources Foundation visits Nordegg

Board tours the Nordegg/Brazeau Collieries Mine Site.

With the September meeting of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation held in Rocky Mountain House, board members and staff took the opportunity to visit the Nordegg/Brazeau Collieries Mine Site.

We enjoyed a great walking tour of the Nordegg/Brazeau Collieries Mine Site, led by the informative staff of the Nordegg Historical Society. Designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 1993, the site of consists of several industrial structures, support buildings and related machinery associated with the coal-mining operations of the Brazeau Collieries between 1911 and 1955.

The site is being restored through a partnership between Clearwater County and the Nordegg Historical Society, with conservation funding from the Foundation’s Heritage Preservation Partnership Program. It was exciting to see this Provincial Historic Resource–large and complex with a variety of heritage values–steadily being restored and revitalized.

Here are a few photographs from our tour of the site:

touring the Nordegg site - 1st image
AHRF board beginning it’s tour of the Nordegg Mine Site.
touring the Nordegg site - 2nd image
Val Clark peeking into one of the mine shafts at Nordegg.
touring the Nordegg site - 3rd image
Several buildings at the Nordegg Mine Site.
touring the Nordegg site - 4th image
A coal chute.
touring the Nordegg site - 5th image
Two miner’s cabins, one of which has been restored.

Following the tour, we had an informal meeting with the society and representatives of the Clearwater County in the Nordegg Museum, where everyone learned a great deal about the restoration and interpretation of this historic mine site.

Written by: Carina Naranjilla, Grants Program Administration, Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

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.