SoS Review in Smoky Lake County

On February 9th, I had the opportunity to lead a workshop for the Smoky Lake Heritage Board as part of a Municipal Heritage Management Plan. The project is a unique collaboration between Smoky Lake County, the Town of Smoky Lake, the Village of Vilna and the Village of Waskatenau. The management plan is the culmination of a multi-year project that has surveyed and inventoried hundreds of sites.

Conservation work being completed on the Anderson House, a Municipal Historic Resource located in the Victoria District of Smoky Lake County (November 2011).

Smoky Lake is starting to think about how to protect and conserve their historic places. I spoke to board members about how to review Statements of Significance (SoS) to ensure they accurately reflect the values their community ascribes to a site. We then took a few hours to review some of the statements that they’re developing.

Although municipalities can (and do) hire consultants to do historical research into historic places and draft Statements of Significance based on their opinions, it’s up to a community to decide if they value a historic place and why. Heritage value is subjective: what one community may value another community may not; what one resident may value, another may not. Neither position is right or wrong. A properly trained board, whose membership is interested in local history and that represents the community’s residents is crucial to ensuring that the community’s heritage values are accurately identified and explained in the Statements of Significance for any designated historic resource. We used a SoS checklist developed by Municipal Heritage Services staff to help committees decide if a Statement of Significance properly reflects a community’s heritage values.

Municipal Heritage Services is available to give workshops for municipally appointed Heritage Advisory Bodies and municipal staff on a range of topics related to identification, evaluation and conservation of historic resources. Our Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) can help your municipality plan a survey, to identify potential historic resources; an inventory, to evaluate potential historic resources for their significance and integrity; and then develop a management plan, to protect and conserve locally significant historic resources. If you would like further information about the services we offer, take a look at our website or contact Municipal Heritage Services staff.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Diverse Sites Tell Distinct Stories of Alberta’s History


Three sites from Alberta’s past – one that precedes the railway, one that was made possible by the railway and one that made the railway run – were recently designated as Provincial Historic Resources for their historical and architectural significance.

The McDonald Stopping House, a pre-railway lodging place in Smoky Lake County.

The Red Brick School, an imposing structure in Didsbury, built to accommodate the railway-fuelled population boom before World War One.

The West Canadian Collieries Mine Site in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, which sold virtually all of its 13 million tonnes of coal to the Canadian Pacific Railway.


Click on the above links to read the sites’ Statements of Significance on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Alberta currently has over 330 Provincial Historic Resources.  These sites embody the richness and variety of our province’s history and include medicine wheels, tipi rings, fur trading and mounted police posts, coal mines, farmsteads, ranches, railway stations, grain elevators, churches, schools, government offices, commercial blocks and private residences.   

For more information on Alberta’s Provincial Historic Resource Designation Program, click here.

Written by: Matthew Wangler, Manager of Historic Places Research and Designation Program