What information did you miss?

Municipal Heritage Services Staff, L-R: Michael Thome, Brenda Manweiler and Matthew Francis.

At the 2011 Municipal Heritage Forum, “Roadmap to Success,” four concurrent breakout sessions provided by staff of the Historic Places Stewardship Section, Culture and Community Services allowed attendees to learn about managing a successful municipal heritage conservation program. Find out what you missed: click below to obtain PDF versions of the presentations.

“Creating Heritage Advisory Bodies that Work for your Community” – Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Heritage Advisory Bodies (HABs) are boards, committees or commissions established through municipal bylaw. The community members appointed to the HAB advise council on heritage conservation matters and assist with the implementation of heritage initiatives (such as a Municipal Heritage Survey or a Municipal Heritage Inventory). This presentation discusses the ingredients necessary to establish an effective HAB.

“How to Designate and Approve Interventions to Municipal Historic Resources” – Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

A Municipal Historic Resource may not be destroyed, disturbed, altered, restored or repaired without the written approval of the applicable municipal council, or their designate. This presentation provides an overview of the designation and alteration approval processes.

“Getting your Municipal Historic Resources Listed on the Alberta Register” – Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

The Alberta Register of Historic Places is a listing of formally recognized historic resources in Alberta. Owners of Municipal Historic Resources and Provincial Historic Resources listed on the Register may apply for cost-shared conservation funding through the Historic Resource Conservation category of the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program. This presentation reviews the eligibility and listing process.

“Understanding the Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada” – Fraser Shaw, Heritage Conservation Advisor

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada provides practical guidance on the preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of historic resources. This presentation is a general introduction to the principles and recommended/not recommended actions contained in the Standards and Guidelines.

NOTE: For a complete collection of the 2011 Municipal Heritage Forum presentations, please click here.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Not Just a Pane: Historic Windows


Windows are an integral part of a building system. They transmit light, control heat flow, are a means of egress, frame exterior views, and are significant elements that contribute to the design of the building. Windows are complex units and are made up of many different components that can be decorative, functional or both. 

Why are historic windows important? 

Historic windows are often character-defining elements. Character-defining elements are the materials, form, location, spatial configurations, uses and cultural associations or meanings that contribute to the heritage value of a historic place and must be retained in order to preserve its heritage value. Furthermore, historic windows are elements that directly reflect a site’s craftsmanship and design and are usually constructed out of particular materials. They are usually quite detailed and in some instances retain original glazing units.

Left to Right: Beatty House, Rimbey; Cronquist House, Red Deer; Pine Lake Holy Trinity Church, Pine Lake

Common misconceptions about historic wood windows 

On a daily basis I field questions about the replacement of historic wood windows. A typical case is a historic site with historic windows that have not been looked at in some time and have deteriorated to some extent due to weathering. A common misconception is that replacement of these historic windows with a modern unit is cheaper and will increase the thermal efficiency of the building through higher R values. 

Research in performance standards for timber sash and case windows in Scotland has taught us that estimated costs including painting of window components, repairing damaged putty and re-caulking where necessary within a regular maintenance program eliminated the cost of a major restoration project every five years. Another thing to consider is that modern sealed units, when they fail are not maintainable and must be replaced outright. 

It is also interesting to learn that a single glazed window in conjunction with an exterior or interior storm window is comparable to a modern sealed unit. A single glazed window has an R value of 0.6 while a single glazed window with wood storm has an R value of 2.0. The top of the line triple glazed window with low E coating and argon has an R value of 3.5. Overall windows in general are thermally inefficient in comparison to a typical wall with 4” batt insulation that has an R value of 12. 

Planning for historic wood window conservation work 

When planning for any conservation work we always take the approach of minimal intervention. Preserving historic material and maintaining historic material is the first step and outright replacement, if necessary, is the last option. 

In most cases simple epoxy repairs to wood, adequate prepping of the wood surface (manual scraping), the application of an appropriate primer and brushed on layers of exterior paint is all that is needed to repair historic windows and to prevent deterioration.

For more severe cases, putty replacement, replacement of broken or damaged glazing, and dutchman (splicing in of new wood) may be required. 


  • Historic windows have heritage value.
  • Historic windows have demonstrated good durability and maintainability.
  • Always assess and document each window before proceeding with conservation work.
  • Compile historic photographs and refer to the Statement of Significance in your planning process.
  • Minimal intervention should be the first approach.

Remember, you can save on costs and achieve the same thermal efficiency through conservation.

Written by: Ophelia Liew, Heritage Conservation Advisor 

Standards and Guidelines: Second Edition Now Available!

 Just in time for Heritage Week, the second edition of the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada has been uploaded to the Historic Places website. Check out the new edition!

What are Standards and Guidelines? 

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada is a pan-Canadian guide for understanding and planning interventions to historic places. The document is based on decades of evolved heritage conservation principles and practices and inspired by international heritage charters.  

Staff members from the Historic Resources Management Branch of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit have actively participated in the development of the first and second editions, in cooperation with heritage professionals from all provincial, territorial and federal agencies. It is truly a pan-Canadian guide. 

How are Standards and Guidelines used? 

In Alberta, the Standards and Guidelines can be used by anyone needing guidance on how to approach interventions to a historic place. In 2003, the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada became the official standard for evaluating interventions to Provincial Historic Resources designated under the Historical Resources Act and for heritage conservation projects eligible for cost-shared funding through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.  

What’s New for the Second Edition? 

The second edition has not changed the basic guiding principles found in the original document. The Standards and Guidelines have been expanded to now fully explain each of the fourteen standards and to elaborate on guidelines for archaeological resources and cultural landscapes. 

For a printed copy of the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, contact:

Written by: Tom Ward   tom.ward@gov.ab.ca

Manager, Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program

Welcome to RETROactive!

Welcome to RETROactive, the official blog of Alberta’s Historic Places Stewardship Section!

Have you ever wondered what makes a historic place, historic? Are you curious to know which places in your municipality are protected Provincial Historic Resources and Municipal Historic Resources? Have you always wanted to learn how heritage conservation can benefit your municipality? OR, are you a history enthusiast and want to learn more about the unique and significant places in Alberta? On RETROactive Historic Places Stewardship staff will post regular updates about their work with Alberta municipalities and feature historic places throughout Alberta.

Guided by the Historical Resources Act and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, Historic Places Stewardship provides a full range of services, programs and incentives for the conservation of historic sites. We work with individuals, municipalities, historic groups and organizations to ensure responsible management, protection and promotion of Alberta’s historic places. To learn about the range of programs offered through the Ministry of Culture and Community Spirit please read our About page.

Be the first to receive a RETROactive post: join us on Facebook or subscribe to RETROactive and get updates emailed to your inbox (see links to the right). We also encourage you to participate. Please submit comments and ask questions! (Before doing so, we encourage you to review the Government of Alberta’s Comment and Trackback Policy.)

Travel along with our staff as they crisscross the Alberta prairie in the on-going saga of Alberta’s historic places. We hope you enjoy the ride!