Municipal Heritage Inventory

Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Almost Complete!

The Town of Sexsmith is now one step closer to completing their first Municipal Heritage Inventory. On April 30th the Town, in partnership with project consultant Donald Luxton and Associates Inc., held a public open house to present information on the Heritage Inventory project to the community. Approximately 14 residents attended the session to review possible themes related to the development of their community and to provide information on specific buildings.

The following day the Town’s Heritage Advisory Board (HAB) met to review the proposed Statements of Significance for 16 potential locally-significant historic resources within Town boundaries. Their local knowledge of the people and events from Sexsmith’s past provided the project consultant with valuable information. Revisions will be made to the Statements of Significance and we anticipate the final report will be presented for review by Town Council by the end of summer.

Participants in the Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Project (From left to right): Chelsea Dunk (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.), James Obniawka (HAB), David Olson (resident), Larry Anderson (HAB), Vella Anderson (HAB), Carolyn Gaunt (Town of Sexsmith), Jean Rycroft, Sam Boisvert (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.). Missing from photo: Grant Berg, Isak Skjaveland

Participants in the Sexsmith Heritage Inventory Project (From left to right): Chelsea Dunk (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.), James Obniawka (HAB), David Olson (resident), Larry Anderson (HAB), Vella Anderson (HAB), Carolyn Gaunt (Town of Sexsmith), Jean Rycroft, Sam Boisvert (Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.). Missing from photo: Grant Berg, Isak Skjaveland

Originally known as Benville, Sexsmith was first settled in the early 1900s but experienced growth following the establishment of the ED&BC railway in 1916. The proximity of the community to the rail line caused expansion of agricultural production and established Sexsmith as a major hub for grain export. Sexsmith was once known as ‘The Grain Capital of the British Empire’ during the 1920s and 30s and at one time there were nine grain elevators situated adjacent to the railway. Today three remain and the Town is in the process of acquiring one for conservation purposes. The community is further characterized by its relatively intact boomtown commercial main street, located directly opposite of the rail line and by the presence of two Provincial Historic Resources: the Northern Alberta Railway Station and the Sexsmith Blacksmith Shop.

100 Street (Main Street), Sexsmith

100 Street (Main Street), Sexsmith

Heritage inventory projects are supported by the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and provide municipalities with the process and tools to assess possible historic sites within their boundaries for future municipal historic resource designation.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Crowsnest Pass Phase 2 Heritage Inventory Underway

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass contains the communities of Coleman, Blairmore, Frank, Hillcrest and Bellevue. Crowsnest Pass has a rich history in coal mining and trade unionism, and therefore, has much to offer in the way of historic resources.

20th Avenue, Blairmore

20th Avenue, Blairmore

As a result of this rich and varied history, the Municipality has acknowledged the importance of identifying places of significance in the community. Given the breadth of possible historic resources within the municipality’s boundaries, Crowsnest Pass determined that a three-phase heritage inventory would be required to comprehensively assess potential sites. The first phase was completed in 2013 and inventoried 31 sites in the Coleman area. The second phase is being completed in 2014 and is looking at historic resources in Blairmore and Frank. The third and final phase will look at historic sites in the Hillcrest and Bellevue area and is proposed to be undertaken in 2015.

55 residents attended a public open house held on April 23rd at the Blairmore Elks Hall to provide feedback on possible sites to be included in the second phase of the heritage inventory. Consultants Community Design Strategies Inc. presented 65 possible historic resources for residents to provide feedback on in terms of historical information and opinions regarding the significance of each site. The results of the open house will be reviewed by the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Historic Resource Board and refined to a list of 45 sites for further evaluation. These 45 sites will have Statements of Significance prepared for them and will be presented back to the community for further review and comment at a second open house to be scheduled later this year.

Ken Bourdeau, Development Officer with the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass and Merinda Conley, Principal with Community Design Strategies Inc. ready to speak with residents at the open house.

Ken Bourdeau, Development Officer with the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass and Merinda Conley, Principal with Community Design Strategies Inc. ready to speak with residents at the open house.

The event provided residents and property owners the opportunity to comment on the 65 places of interest and to speak with representatives of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, the Municipal Historic Resources Board and Alberta Culture about the heritage inventory project and municipal historic resource designation in general.

Heritage inventory projects are supported by the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and provide municipalities with the process and tools to assess possible historic sites within their boundaries for future municipal historic resource designation.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Raymond works on a context paper

On April 16th I had the pleasure of attending an open house hosted by the Town of Raymond. They presented the penultimate draft of their historical context paper, drafted with the assistance of consulting firm Donald Luxton & Associates. The open house is the culmination of a process Raymond began with MHPP over two years. Several dozen people attended the event over the course of the evening and all were excited by the result of all this work.

Image of people attending the open house in Raymond discussing the context paper.

Attendees discussing Raymond’s heritage.

The context paper outlines 16 themes (people or groups, or economic or social forces) that shaped the community and, by extension, the physical environment of the town. The context paper will help Raymond identify historic places: a place is locally significant, and therefore worth preserving, if it somehow reflects the influence of one or more of these themes.

While context papers do not explain the full history of a community, each one can provide a visitor (like me) with a glimpse of how a community evolved over time and Raymond’s is no exception. The town was formed by Jessie Knight who financed the purchase of land in the area, helped establish sugar beets as an important crop, and helped start a sugar refinery in Raymond. The community was settled by Jessie’s son Raymond Knight (the town’s namesake) and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The town quickly grew to include members of a variety of faiths, including Japanese Buddhists as early as 1902.

I was particularity fascinated to learn about the towns plan of survey, completed in 1901. It’s a unique combination of the urban planning ideas of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who redeveloped much of Paris in the 19th century. Haussmann’s plan for Paris—emphasising boulevards radiating out from central plazas—can be seen in the design of the central square and the radiating boulevards. Joseph Smith’s Plat of Zion—which emphasises large residential lots—is visible in the residential areas. The plan is unique, as far I know. Although it was never followed exactly, you can still see its influence in the width of the streets, the orientations of several buildings and the location of public buildings (like schools, the town hall and churches)

An image of the original plan of survey laying out Raymond.

The original plan of survey for what would become Raymond

This project is scheduled to conclude shortly. We look forward to seeing what transpires as Raymond moves to begin identifying historic resources.

Written by: Michael Thome Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

Municipal Heritage Partnership Program Grants

Helping Alberta’s municipalities identify, evaluate and manage locally significant historic places.

Alberta’s municipalities are now working on plans and budgets for 2014. I’d like to remind municipal stakeholders responsible for heritage about the grant programs offered through the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (funded by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation).

The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program offers three types of grants to help municipalities conserve locally significance historic places.

A municipality can apply for funding to complete a heritage survey. A survey gathers basic information about a municipality’s potential historic places. There are many articles on RETROactive describing survey projects municipalities have undertaken using these grants.

A municipality can also apply for funding to inventory historic resources. An inventory lists places that are locally significant, evaluates them to decide exactly why they are significant and creates the documentation needed to designate these as Municipal Historic Resources. You can also peruse RETROactive posts on municipal inventory projects that our partner municipalities have worked on.

A municipality can also apply for funding to develop a heritage management plan. A management plan helps the municipality conserve significant historic places, the highlight of which is policy on the designation of Municipal Historic Resources. You can read about different municipal heritage management plans on RETORactive as well.

The grant application consists of a written project proposal, which must include a budget. The foundation may award a grant that can cover up to half the cost of the project, up to certain maximum amounts.

M.D. or County City Town Village
Survey $30 000 $30 000 $20 000 $10 000
Inventory $30 000 $30 000 $20 000 $10 000
Management Plan $20 000 $20 000 $15 000 $7 500

The next grant deadline will be early in 2014, but it’s never too early to begin planning a project. You can learn more about the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program grant program by visiting the cost sharing page on the website.

If you’re thinking of undertaking a heritage conservation project, please contact us. We’d be happy to help you plan your next project.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

Where in the world is …

Marlboro Plant, Marlboro (Evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Marlboro Plant, Marlboro (evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Marlboro? Wildwood?

Earlier this week I travelled to both Marlboro and Wildwood to attend municipal heritage inventory open houses. You might be scratching your head in confusion asking, “Where in Alberta are those communities located?” Both are located west of Edmonton along the Yellowhead Highway, in Yellowhead County. Marlboro is 26 kilometres west of Edson and Wildwood is approximately an hour’s drive west of Edmonton. Still not feeling overly familiar with Yellowhead County? A previous RETROactive blog post described the County and aspects of its history:

West of Edmonton, Yellowhead County is located along Yellowhead Highway 16. It encompasses 7,012,000 acres stretching from the Pembina River in the east to the Jasper National Park gates in the west. Travellers that frequent this section of the Yellowhead Highway are likely familiar with the Towns of Edson and Hinton and, of course, the iconic Rocky Mountains. What might be less familiar is that alongside these Highway 16 destinations and nestled off into the north and south of this transportation corridor are reminders of a long and varied history. Trapping, logging, farming, coal mining and more recently oil, gas and tourism have all impacted the development of what is now Yellowhead County. Various structures, cultural landscapes and buildings located in the hamlets of Evansburg, Wildwood, Robb, Cadomin and Brule (amongst others) retain glimpses of this diverse history. Miners cabins, ranches, hotels, industrial remains, barns, schools, churches, a pool hall and a water tower exemplify the range of potential historic places.

Brule Mine Landscape, Brule (Evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Brule Mine Landscape, Brule (evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

The Marlboro and Wildwood open houses were opportunities for community residents to learn about the County’s inventory project. Twenty three different sites were featured (some of the sites are shown in this blog post). Their architectural, social, cultural, historical and/or landmark value was discussed. Attendees responded with enthusiasm and were full of questions about possible Municipal Historic Resource designation, the implications of designation and opportunities for conservation funding assistance. I responded to many of these questions by discussing “designation myths”. (Hmmm … perhaps a great topic for a future blog post?)

Over the coming months, this project will be concluded. To learn more about Yellowhead County’s heritage program, click here.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Myschuk Barn, near Wildwood (Evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Myschuk Barn, near Wildwood (evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Cadomin Photo Studio, Cadomin (Evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Cadomin Photo Studio, Cadomin (evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Shinning Bank Farm (Evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Shinning Bank Farm (evaluated as part of the the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage inventory project).

Heritage along the Highway

Yellowhead County: Municipal Heritage Survey and Inventory

A municipal heritage survey of approximately 300 sites and a municipal heritage inventory project to evaluate 30 surveyed sites for eligibility, significance and integrity have been keeping the highways and byways of Yellowhead County busy. Throughout 2011 and 2012, heritage consultants and local heritage enthusiasts have been exploring, identifying and learning about the history and heritage of one of Alberta’s largest rural municipalities – Yellowhead County.

The Cadomin Photo Studio was documented in the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage Survey and is currently be evaluated as part of the County's inventory project.

The Cadomin Photo Studio was documented in the Yellowhead County Municipal Heritage Survey and is currently being evaluated as part of the County’s inventory project.

West of Edmonton, Yellowhead County is located along Yellowhead Highway 16. It encompasses 7,012,000 acres stretching from the Pembina River in the east to the Jasper National Park gates in the west. Travellers that frequent this section of the Yellowhead Highway are likely familiar with the Towns of Edson and Hinton and, of course, the iconic Rocky Mountains. What might be less familiar is that alongside these Highway 16 destinations and nestled off into the north and south of this transportation corridor are reminders of a long and varied history. Trapping, logging, farming, coal mining and more recently oil, gas and tourism have all impacted the development of what is now Yellowhead County. Various structures, cultural landscapes and buildings located in the hamlets of Evansburg, Wildwood, Robb, Cadomin and Brule (amongst others) retain glimpses of this diverse history.

Miners cabins, ranches, hotels, industrial remains, barns, schools, churches, a pool hall and a water tower exemplify the range of potential historic places documented and evaluated in Yellowhead County’s heritage survey and inventory projects. Throughout 2011 and 2012 an extensive but not exhaustive survey was completed. Upwards of three hundred potential historic places located in all corners of the County were photographed and geographical, architectural and historical information was recorded for uploading to the Alberta Heritage Survey database.

Currently, thirty of the three hundred surveyed sites are being evaluated to determine if they possess significance – in other words – why are the sites important to area residents? Did they have a lasting impact on making the community what it is today? The sites will also be evaluated for integrity to ensure they still possess the ability to communicate their significance. The results of this analysis will be written up into Statements of Significance and Statements of Integrity. Yellowhead County staff, combined with the services of a heritage consultant and the County’s Heritage Advisory Board, will see this project through to completion.

Yellowhead County Heritage Advisory Body Back L-R: Gary Conger, Shawn Berry, Brian Broughton, Pat DiMarcello. Front L-R: Cheryl May (Heritage Coordinator), Marshall Hoke (Chair), Debbie Charest (Director of Community and Protective Services).

Yellowhead County Heritage Advisory Body – Back L-R: Gary Conger, Shawn Berry, Brian Broughton, Pat DiMarcello. Front L-R: Cheryl May (Heritage Coordinator), Marshall Hoke (Chair), Debbie Charest (Director of Community and Protective Services).

The municipal heritage survey and the inventory project will allow applicable municipal staff, councillors and residents to better understand the older places that make their communities unique and vibrant. Essentially, these projects will serve as a foundation for establishing a local heritage conservation program and will contribute to sense of place and community identity.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Clearwater County creates a future for historic Nordegg townsite

Clearwater County staff, (L-R): Kim Jakowski, Amanda Wilson, Marilyn Sanders, Joe Baker, Rick Eamons

On August 8th I joined five members of Clearwater County’s staff for a visit to the Nordegg townsite, where the County has for many years been laying the foundation for a dynamic rejuvenation of this historic Alberta community. 

In particular, the municipality has recently partnered with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program to evaluate ten properties of historic interest, five within Nordegg, and five in the surrounding rural areas. Clearwater County was awarded a grant of $12, 500 for this Municipal Heritage Inventory project. 

Nordegg streetscape

More than ten years ago, Joe Baker, the County’s Director for the West Country and Planning Development, got the ball rolling for a future for this once bustling mining community by creating the Nordegg Development Plan. This plan envisioned that new life could emerge within the historic environment which once housed more than 2, 500 people, many of them employed by the Brazeau Colliers mine, which built the townsite.

Now, after considerable planning and infrastructure development at Nordegg, the Townsite is becoming more and more ready

Nordegg sidewalks and light standards

to accommodate new life, both in terms of commercial and residential development. New residential streets have been built, along with sidewalks and light standards.

The historic resources evaluated on Main Street, including the former bank, church, general store and garage, which will anchor and inspire new construction informed by sound principles for new construction in historic districts.

This is an exciting time as historic places can become a value-added catalyst for sustainable growth in rural Alberta.

Written by:Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

Speakers’ Studio – Doors Open Edmonton

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Time: 1pm

Location: Prince of Wales Armoury, Edmonton – Jefferson Room.

Ever wonder how the Government of Alberta evaluates places to determine if they are historic? I’m giving a talk on how historic places are evaluated in Alberta as part of the Edmonton Historical Society’s Historic Festival and Doors Open Edmonton Speakers’ Studio. If you’d like to learn more about heritage value, statements of significance and the heritage inventory process come down to the Prince of Wales Armoury on Saturday July 7th. The talk begins in the Jefferson Room at 1pm.

The Prince of Wales Armoury (which is a Provincial Historic Resource) is located south of the Royal Alexandra Hospital at 10440 – 108 Avenue, Edmonton.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

It’s All About Context

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation awarded the Municipal District of Big Lakes a grant to aid them in developing a context paper, the first step in completing their first inventory of potential historic places. On June 6th, I facilitated a workshop for members of the M.D. of Big Lakes’s Heritage Advisory Committee. The daylong workshop was about context papers: what they are, what they’re used for and why you cannot identify or understand historic places without them. The committee was appointed by council last year to find ways to protect local historic places. In March, they finished the first phase of a municipal heritage survey.

Members of the Heritage Advisory Committee (unless otherwise noted), left to right: Mike Sekulich; Amanda Backs, Assistant Development Officer; Pat Olansky, Community Development Officer; Garth Lodge; Harvey Nielsen; Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

We started the day by discussing heritage value. A context paper at its simplest and most useful is a document that describes a community’s heritage values. What is heritage value? In Canada it is commonly defined as, the aesthetic, historic, scientific, cultural, social or spiritual importance or significance” assigned to a place. In other words, heritage value can be articulated through a historic place’s ability to tell us something about the past: perhaps how people lived during a particular time-period, how a certain type of building was constructed, how an important event took place, among other things. Each community will value the past differently. In fact, members of the same community will think that different aspects of their common history are important. The first step when evaluating historic places is for a community to decide what their common heritage values are.

Why is understanding your heritage values so important? Heritage value is communicated through a historic place’s materials and form. It isn’t a place’s age or uniqueness that makes it significant; significance is rooted in a place’s ability to teach us about the past. You can’t decide if something is a historic place unless you understand the heritage values that make your historic places significant. Distinguishing between places with heritage value and old buildings that cannot offer a window into significant aspects of the past is the key.

Over the summer, the M.D. of Big Lakes will determine what their community’s heritage values are and describe them in writing. The result is called a context paper. Heritage value can be nebulous, but writing a context paper before looking at specific places helps answer the question “why should we conserve this place”. Once the context paper is finished the Heritage Advisory Committee can determine the significance of potential historic places.

We then spent the afternoon discussing what Big Lakes’ heritage values might be. We worked through a list of eight themes:

  • community life;
  • health and welfare;
  • economic development;
  • learning;
  • music and the arts; politics,
  • government and law enforcement;
  • religion and spirituality; and
  • transportation.

Each theme was intended to be a starting point to discuss events, groups or people that reflect the theme; each theme was to be inclusive of all people, places and time periods within the municipality.

One of the great parts of my job is the opportunity to learn about each community’s unique history and Big Lakes didn’t disappoint. The committee members began telling stories illustrating some of these themes, talking about events and people that made Big Lakes what it is. In just one afternoon, I learned that mink farming, logging and commercial fishing on Lesser Slave Lake were important sources of income. I learned about the sports days, rodeos and community dances that were the important social events. We started to organise these stories under sub-themes and even components within subthemes.

The committee will be working with a consultant on the context paper over the summer. When the committee finishes the framework, the results will be presented to the community for further input and then written up. The context paper will give the Heritage Advisory Committee the framework within which to evaluate individual places for heritage value. If a place contains buildings or other works that illustrate one of the themes from their context paper, it is a historic resource.

Evaluating individual places for heritage value will be the subject of a future workshop, probably in the fall. I’m really looking forward to reading drafts of their context paper, in the meantime.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Vulcan RCAF Station and Beyond…

Throughout the last year, one hundred potential historic places in the Vulcan region have been photographed and carefully documented in a Municipal Heritage Survey project. Of these sites, twenty-one were also selected to be evaluated for eligibility, significance and integrity in a Municipal Heritage Inventory project, all to help determine potential candidacy for Municipal Historic Resource designation. For this project, Vulcan County partnered with the Town of Vulcan and the villages of Carmangay, Champion and Milo. Working collaboratively, and with the services of a heritage consultant, a wide range of places were captured. From commercial buildings, residential homes and community churches, to a fire brigade building, a tree, a grain elevator, a railway trestle, a dry ditch and the Vulcan RCAF Station – an array of places were documented, showcasing some of the unique resources in the region.

Completing the Municipal Heritage Survey and Inventory projects will allow applicable municipal staff, councillors and residents to better understand the older places that make their communities unique and liveable. From this understanding, municipal officials will be able to make informed decisions about which sites may merit protection and conservation for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Essentially, projects like this serve as a foundation for establishing local heritage conservation programs that identify, protect and manage significant historic places and which contribute to sense of place and community identity.

To help guide this collaborative initiative, the Vulcan Business Development Society served as lead coordinator. As well, a heritage steering committee comprised of municipal staff and community stakeholders was formed. Together, with the services of a heritage consultant, this project has served as a starting off point for a variety of potential heritage initiatives.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

PHOTO: Heritage Committee (pictured from left to right): Racille Ellis, Champion Community Representative; Paul Taylor, Town of Vulcan Councillor; Marjorie Weber, Vulcan and District Historical Society; Cody Shearer, Vulcan Business Development Society; Katie Walker, Village of Milo Councillor; Richard Lambert, Vulcan and District Historical Society; Amy Rupp, Village of Champion CAO; Kym Nichols, Village of Carmangay Mayor; Leslie Warren, Vulcan Business Development Society; William Roebuck, Kirkcaldy Community Club; Liza Dawber, Vulcan County. Missing: Bill Lahd, Milo Community Representative.