Heritage Conservation in the Spotlight!

On Thursday, August 11, 2011, Access Television’s current affairs program, Alberta Primetime, aired a segment on the preservation of historic buildings in Alberta. A webcast of this segment can be found here.

The segment included a panel discussion consisting of me (Larry Pearson, Director of the Historic Places Stewardship Section), Darryl Cariou, the City of Calgary’s Senior Heritage Planner and Edmonton architect Shafraaz Kaba, Senior Partner with Manasc Issac Architects. Our discussion explored the benefits of adaptively reusing heritage buildings and some of the funding support available to their owners.

During the panel discussion, I noted that there are approximately 700 historic places listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Of these, 508 are designated as Municipal Historic Resources or Provincial Historic Resources. These places are legally protected under Alberta’s Historical Resources Act and are eligible for funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. Beginning with the February 1, 2012 grant deadline, Provincial Historic Resources will have an annual eligibility for up to $100,000 in cost shared funding to support eligible conservation work. For Municipal Historic Resources, the annual eligibility will be $50,000. Darryl Cariou outlined the City of Calgary’s grant funding and illustrated how other strategies, such as defering tax increases that would normally occur when a building is signficantly upgraded, could be used to support the rehabilitation of historic places legally protected by the City.

In exploring the benefits of adaptivly reusing historic places, the panel illustrated how heritage conservation is an excellent example of “sustainable developmant”. The reuse of existing buildings is environmentally sustainable. Shafraaz noted that the “greenest building is the one that is already built”.  This is because the reuse of an existing building saves a landfill from the waste created by demolition and conserves the energy that was invested by a previous generation during its construction. A study prepared for the Government of Alberta showed that the rehabilitated historic Lougheed Building in Calgary would use about 10% less energy than a typical new building of similar size. The study also revealed that the overall energy saved was equivilant to the annual energy use of 1,591 homes. Recycling historic places also contributes to “economic sustainability”. A higher percentage of the money invested in rehabilitation projects represents labour costs rather than material costs. The labour investment reflects the work of skilled tradesman and, because it is spent locally it is also more likely to stay in the community. Heritage conservation also helps a community maintain its sense of place, therefore, it supports cultural tourism and contributes to viable communities and a high quality of living.

For more information on the heritage programs of the Government of Alberta, click here.

Information about the City of Calgary’s heritage programs can be found here.

Written by: Larry Pearson, Director of Historic Places Stewardship

Did you know… ?

Did you know that the discovery of oil near Turner Valley, in 1914, resulted in the first major oil boom in western Canada? When returning from a business trip in southern Alberta I stopped at the Turner Valley Oil Field heritage marker and learned about the birth of Alberta’s oil industry.

To learn more, check out the video below or scroll down to read the heritage marker text.

Heritage marker location: on the west side of Highway 22, north of the Town of Turner Valley.

Learn about other aspects of Alberta’s heritage in the Turner Valley area – explore the Alberta Register of Historic Places and read about various Provincial Historic Resources:

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


Heritage marker text:

Alberta’s History: Turner Valley Oil Field 

In the nearby town of Turner Valley is the discovery well of the first major oil and gas field in Alberta, drilled by Calgary Petroleum Products. Dingman No. 1, named after a major stockholder, blew in on May 14, 1914. The well produced large quantities of gas and light oil and began Alberta’s first oil boom. With the boom came a flood of stock speculation, but by late that summer the boom had collapsed. Many new oil companies had proven fraudulent, other wells were disappointing, and soon the investment capital that was needed for more development was focused on the war effort instead. 

The second boom began in 1924 with the Royalite No. 4 well owned by Imperial Oil. Royalite No. 4 produced even more of the light-gravity oil called naptha than the discovery well, but was not deep enough to reach the crude oil below. In June 1936, a new well discovered extensive oil deposits at 2,081 metres. This well, called Royalties No. 1, produced almost 1,000 barrels of oil a day, reviving interest in oil exploration in the field. By late 1936 the whole Turner Valley field was producing about 10,000 barrels per day. 

From 1914 to 1947, Turner Valley produced nearly all of Alberta’s petroleum, and it remained Canada’s most important oil field from 1925 until the discovery of oil south of Edmonton, near Leduc, in 1947.

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