Municipal Heritage Survey

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.

M.D. seizes an Opportunity to Survey its heritage

The M.D. of Opportunity contributes to the Alberta Heritage Survey

St. Leon Le Grande church

St. Leon Le Grande church in the Hamlet of Calling Lake

The Municipal District of Opportunity is a large rural municipality located north of the Athabasca River. I don’t get the opportunity chance to travel to north-eastern Alberta very often, so I was excited to visit the Hamlet of Calling Lake in May. I found that yes, there are indeed trees and lakes outside of our Rocky Mountains.

I was in Calling Lake to facilitate a daylong workshop for local volunteers preparing to survey the M.D.’s potential historic resources. The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program granted funds to help the M.D. add a few hundred sites to the Alberta Heritage Survey Program. Like so many municipalities before it, Opportunity will use the information to learn more about some of the potential historic resources within its boundaries.

What’s a survey? Essentially, a community identifies properties over a certain age or ones that appear to have historical or architectural interest. A volunteer from the survey team visits each site, taking photos and noting the design and construction of any buildings or structures. Information collected during the site visit is supplemented through historical or architectural research. The results is recorded on a Site Form (one form per site) and recorded in the Alberta Heritage Survey Program’s database. (You can learn a great deal about the survey program by reading Identifying Historic Places, Part 1–Conducting a Municipal Heritage Survey.)

The survey of the M.D. of Opportunity is quite interesting because it will focus on buildings, structures and trails from the settlement period around the Hamlets of Wabasca, Calling Lake, Red Earth Creek and Sandy Lake. This area has a rich aboriginal and Metis heritage and was an important fur trapping and trading area. It is also the first municipal survey to focus on sites related to aboriginal people.

During the training, we actually went to one of these sites: the St. Leon Le Grande Roman Catholic Church. It was built by the Oblates. Unfortunately the roof collapsed last winter. The survey will allow for it to be recorded for posterity—and perhaps provide the information necessary to designate it as a Municipal Historic Resource and to rehabilitate it in the near future.

Stay tuned, I will keep you updated on this project as it develops.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Where Urban Meets Rural: A Survey of Strathcona County

Over a hundred sites later, Strathcona County has completed a Municipal Heritage Survey. From residential and commercial buildings to churches, schools, agricultural buildings and cultural landscapes, the County has documented a wide range of potential historic places located in all its urban and rural corners.

(IMG00387-20121017-1934.jpg) Attendees at the Brookville Community Hall open house. Historic Resources Management Branch 2012

(IMG00387-20121017-1934.jpg) Attendees at the Brookville Community Hall open house. Historic Resources Management Branch, 2012.

Strathcona County is located directly east of the City of Edmonton and to the west of Elk Island National Park. With 126,620 hectares and a population of 92,490, Strathcona County is one of the more populous municipalities in the Edmonton area. It is also one of the few specialized municipalities in Alberta. This classification is designed to accommodate the unique needs of a municipality that contains both an urban centre and a large rural area. Approximately seventy percent of Strathcona County’s population lives in Sherwood Park (an urban service area) while the remaining thirty percent of the population is divided between eight hamlets (Antler Lake, Ardrossan, Collingwood Cove, Half Moon Lake, Hastings Lake, Josephburg, North Cooking Lake and South Cooking Lake).

This mix of urban and rural places and spaces provided a diverse array of potential historic places. The one hundred and sixteen sites documented were photographed and geographical, historical and architectural details were recorded. Over the coming months, the gathered information will be placed on the Alberta Heritage Survey database.

Throughout the project, area residents were invited to learn about the initiative and to provide additional information on the documented sites. Special open house events were hosted by the County and input was encouraged during various community events (i.e. Senior’s Week Celebrations, Josephburg Chicken Supper, Wilderness Centre Fall Open House). I attended an open house at the Brookville Community Hall on October 17, 2012. At this event I witnessed a high level of community interest; a large number of area residents attended and they were all very keen to ask questions.

Interested in learning more about this project? Read these articles from the Sherwood Park News:

“Heritage sites pin-pointed”

“Survey names historic sites”

If your municipality would like to complete a municipal heritage survey or a different municipal heritage planning project, please visit our Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website or contact MHPP Staff.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

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

Surveying Delburne’s Historic Resources

I spent a day in the Village of Delburne earlier this month, training the village’s new heritage advisory board. They plan to survey buildings and structures in the village over the next six months, or so. They also plan to do some oral history work with local citizens and use all this information to develop a walking tour and some interpretive plaques. Delburne is preparing to celebrate the centenary of the village’s incorporation, in 2013.

I do all sorts of heritage planning projects with Alberta’s municipalities, but while preparing for this workshop I was struck by how few municipal heritage surveys I have worked on recently. Delburne’s project has reminded me just how useful heritage survey’s can be.

Delburne AGT Building, Municipal Historic Resource

A survey helps a municipality identify buildings and structures that may be significant, providing a basis to determine which places to evaluate further. The first step is for a community to select a geographic area to be studied. (Delburne is compact enough to be surveyed in one go). The survey team does some research to locate buildings and structures built before a cutoff date (usually 40 years ago). A fieldworker photographs each place’s facades (from the sidewalk and alley) using black-and-white archival-quality film. They will also make notes on each place’s design and general condition. This is combined with some historical information explaining how the building has been used over time. Together, this information forms a survey record.

The survey records are entered into the Alberta Heritage Survey database, part of the Heritage Resources Management Information System (HeRMIS). Each survey record is a snapshot of Alberta’s streetscapes and farmyards, showing us how they have evolved over time. The database can be searched in all sorts of ways—you can look for places made of a particular material, buildings that have certain design features and/or places associated with people or events.

The survey in Delbure will provide a sense of which places may be sufficiently significant to warrant further study and evaluation. Municipalities may choose to evaluate some of these places for heritage value, eventually develop management policies and possibly designate several places as Municipal Historic Resources.

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.


Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey

At the end of April I attended an open house for the Town of Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey project. Over the past year, the Town, through the dedicated assistance of community volunteers and the guidance of Farley Wuth at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, has been working on documenting up to 300 sites. These sites, all older than the 1940s, include residential, commercial and industrial properties. The sites are being documented through photography and by recording geographical, architectural and historical information. Once complete, all documented sites may be viewed on the Provincial Heritage Survey database.

The open house was attended by project volunteers and interested community members. Their interest in the project was inspiring. With each documented property, the volunteers uncover new facts about their community.  Who lived where, and when? Which properties contain unique architectural features? How did the properties evolve after alterations and repairs? With each discovery, a greater sense of community pride seems to emerge.

Completing a Municipal Heritage Survey is a great way for municipal staff to learn about the older building stock (and other sites) in their communities. The information gathered provides valuable information for things such as:

- public and private research

-   historic walking tours

-   school and museum programs

- municipal decision-making

-   information on historic and existing land uses

-   development patterns

-   tourism opportunities

- assistance in long-term conservation objectives

-   evaluation of potential historic places

-   photographic record to aide future conservation projects

Essentially, a Municipal Heritage Survey is an information gathering exercise, which enables future decisions and projects associated with potential historic places. Properties documented through a survey are not placed under any restrictions.

To learn more about the Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey project, click here.

To learn how the Town of Pincher Creek is completing this project, please visit the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer