Can’t Touch This!

May 22, 2013

Misunderstandings about alterations to designated historic resources

Now and again, I receive a call or a question from someone who appears to be under the impression that their Provincial or Municipal Historic Resource cannot be “altered” and that it must be “preserved” as is.  That is not entirely true.  Under Alberta’s Historical Resources Act, “no person shall destroy, disturb, alter, restore or repair any historic resource…without the written approval from the minister (Section 20-9)” if the site is a Provincial Historic Resource.  For Municipal Historic Resources, the written approval must come from “the council or a person appointed by the council for the purpose (Section 26-6).”  To obtain a written approval, the proposed alteration must be evaluated under the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Place in Canada.

The Standards and Guidelines is a pan-Canadian document that is used as a tool to evaluate and sometimes enforce certain principles in the conservation of our historic resources.  There are four major components to the document: the conservation decision-making process, the conservation treatments, the standards, and the guidelines – with each component going into more and more detail.  The most critical of these is the “conservation decision-making process”.  This process involves three stages that I like to refer to as the acronym U.P.I. (pronounced whoopee!) or Understanding, Planning, and Intervening.

The designation of a historic resource implies that we are trying to conserve it for future generations as part of our shared heritage.  Understanding why a designation was put in place is the first step in determining what can and can’t be touched.  This is summarised in a Statement of Significance (SoS).  Each designated historic resource has one.  If you do not know what the SoS for your designated building contains, you can search for it on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Planning is the most important part of any project and for historic resources it is critical in order to avoid mistakes and the potential damage or loss of heritage fabric – usually listed as character-defining elements within a SoS.  As a Heritage Conservation Adviser, it is part of my job to help you understand and plan (and subsequently recommend approvals for Provincial Historic Resources) for projects that will affect your historic resource before any intervening occurs.  When someone indicates to me that they will be going straight to an intervention (i.e. actual physical alteration to a historic resource) without any understanding or planning having taken place, I will tend to react like the guy in this video clip.

Ok, well maybe on the inside.  Suffice it to say, that intervening without understanding or planning is not recommended.  Although I did find the guy in the video’s treatment of the new homeowner’s lack of respect for their heritage building interesting – would you agree?!

Written by:  Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser.


Managing Lacombe’s Heritage

March 14, 2013

I had the pleasure of attending the City of Lacombe’s Heritage Open House on February 28th. The city presented a draft of their heritage management plan for community perusal and input. The event was hosted by Lacombe’s Heritage Preservation Program at the beautiful St. Andrew’s United Church hall. People started arriving from the moment the doors opened and kept coming until the end, asking great questions about Lacombe’s Heritage Preservation Program. The turnout was wonderful. You can read a bit more about the event itself at the City of Lacombe’s blog.

City of Lacombe, Heritage Management Plan Open House - 20130228-00010Lacombe’s Heritage Management Plan will ensure that locally significant historic resources are identified, protected and systematically conserved. Under the plan, the Lacombe Heritage Steering Committee will continue to revise and update the municipal heritage inventory begun in spring of 2011. The city will soon be able to protect locally significant historic places using new policies governing the designation of Municipal Historic Resources. The final elements will be the plan to evaluate changes to designated resources to insure they retain their heritage value.

The plan will be complete and finalized in the coming months. We’ll bring you more information on the plan when it’s complete. The City of Lacombe can soon begin designating its first Municipal Historic Resources. Stay tuned.

For those who are interested in Lacombe’s heritage, you may wish to check out their facebook page: I ♥ Lacombe Heritage.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


County of Two Hills sees Shandro Church listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places

March 12, 2013

Shandro Church - West and North ElevationsIn 2012, the County of Two Hills passed a bylaw to designate the Russo Greek Catholic Orthodox Parish of St. Mary at Shandro, also known simply as the “Shandro Church,” as a Municipal Historic Resource. It is principally significant for its association to pioneers from Bukovyna, its connection with Bishop Tikhon, and its unique design and construction. The construction of St. Mary’s Church began and was supervised by members of the Shandro clan, who arrived in the Willingdon area in 1899 during one of the great waves of Ukrainian immigration into Alberta. The Shandro family came to play a prominent role in the Ukrainian community in Alberta.

Read more about the heritage values associated with the Shandro Church; visit the Alberta Register of Historic Paces.


Wheatland County Lists Historic Resources on the Alberta Register of Historic Places

February 12, 2013

St. Andrew's Anglican Church_September 12 2012Wheatland County recently designated two Municipal Historic Resources that are now listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. You can find Wheatlead County a few kilometres east of the City of Calgary and adjacent to the Siksika Indian Reserve. The area was settled in the 1890s and the two sites reflect very different themes in Alberta’s history.

The St. Andrew’s Anglican Church is a small church located in the Hamlet of Gleichen, just north of Siksika Nation. It was built in 1885 by Anglican missionaries to the Blackfoot nation. The descendants of the Blackfoot people and the area’s settlers worship here to this day. This little chruch is quite likely one of the oldest Anglican churches in Alberta.

Cenotaph, Wheatland CountyThe Gleichen War Memorial Cenotaph is located in the Hamlet of Gleichen as well. Is was built in 1920 as a monument to the 51 men from the area who lost their lives while fighting for Canada in World War I. Plaques have subsequently been added to honour soldiers from the area who died during the Second World War, the Korean War and the mission to Afghanistan.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


County of Minburn: Conserving Ukrainian Canadian Historic Places

February 7, 2013

Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchThe County of Minburn recently listed one of its newly designated Municipal Historic Resources on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Dormition of St. Mary of Sich-Kolomea (otherwise known as Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox Church) is one of the many historic resources that tell us about Ukrainian Canadian settlers.

Sich-Kolomea Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchThe Sich-Kolomea church is valued by the county because of what it conveys about the Ukrainian Canadians setters who built it. The church served the pioneer farmers of the area, and was the first church in what was to become the Vegreville mission district. It is also a beautiful example of the Canadian interpretation of the Byzantine style of church architecture seen in many eastern rite churches built on the Canadian prairies.

There are many municipal and provincial historic resources that tell us about the Ukrainian Canadian settlers in east-central Alberta. You can use the advanced search features of the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the places that form their legacy.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


Recent Addition to the Alberta Register of Historic Places

January 31, 2013

4664-0289_ExteriorA recent Municipal Historic Resource listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places is Bremner House, located in rural Strathcona County. It is a large two and one half storey residence constructed in the early 1900’s. Heritage values associated with Bremner House include the aesthetic significance of the scale, style and location of the building as well as its representation of the cultural growth and development of Strathcona County during the first half of the 20th Century.

To read more about the significance of Bremner House, and to view additional photos, check out the listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Are you curious if places in your community are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places? Complete an Advanced Search by “municipality” and see what is found. Only sites formally designated as either Municipal Historic Resources, Provincial Historic Resources or Registered Historic Resources are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


City of Medicine Hat sees two new listings on the Alberta Register

January 29, 2013

A community rich in Alberta history – boasting not one but two National Historic Sites of Canada – the City of Medicine Hat recently had two of its designated Municipal Historic Resources listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

St  John's Presbyterian Church Medicine HatSignificant for its status as the oldest church building in Medicine Hat, and the home of the City’s oldest religious congregation, St. John’s Presbyterian Church was listed on the Register in late 2012.

Just this week, another historic place designated by the City, the Merchants Bank of Canada, was also listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Constructed in 1899, the Merchants Bank is valued not only as the first permanent bank branch in the City, but also as an important building constructed of brick, in a city where brick was historically an important and characteristic local material, and brick-making a key industry.

Merchants Bank, Medicine HatCongratulations to the City of Medicine Hat and the owners of these two properties for being listed on the Alberta Register!

Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services


Surveying Delburne’s Historic Resources

October 17, 2012

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


News from Calgary’s Heritage Scene

May 15, 2012

You may have read that Calgary’s city council has decided to incorporate the Eamon’s Gas Station (also known as the Eamon’s Bungalow Camp) into the planned Tuscany LRT Station. Calgary will conserve a historic resource rather than demolishing it to make room for parking. This is exciting news!

We recently talked with Christy Caswell, one of the City’s Heritage Planners, and she said that Calgarians today are enthusiastic in supporting their city’s historic places. The interest garnered by the Eamon’s project has been one of many catalysts for people to think about historic places in a new way, and how they can be creatively integrated with new development.

Alberta’s municipalities can identify and conserve historic resources without the provincial government’s permission or involvement by legally protecting these places as Municipal Historic Resources. If interested, municipalities can also offer conservation incentives. By extension, each municipality is free to determine its own criteria for deciding what to designate. Calgary is a fine example of this.

Calgary has identified a range of heritage values that a place must reflect to be considered for conservation. For example, the Calgary Heritage Authority has overseen the development of context papers for many of Calgary’s historic communities. The city’s heritage planning program regularly evaluates potential historic place for significance. The result is Calgary’s Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources. Each place on the city’s inventory reflects a local heritage value. Indeed, the Eamon’s Bungalow Camp is one of over 600 places included on Calgary’s Inventory. Be sure to read the listing to learn about the site’s history.

The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) helps municipalities develop programs that will identify, evaluate and conserve locally significant historic places. For more information, visit the MHPP website.

Written by: Matthew Francis and Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services


Delburne Alberta Government Telephones Exchange Building

May 8, 2012

One of Alberta’s most recently designated historic resources is the Delburne Alberta Telephones Exchange Building. Designated in January as a Municipal Historic Resource by the Village of Delburne, it has recently been listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Although now a residence, the building once housed the switching equipment that first connected the village and the surrounding area to the long-distance telephone network. To read more about the heritage value of this building take a look at the statement of significance on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

Municipal Heritage Services staff helped the Village of Delburne finalize the documentation needed to designate and then list the site on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. If you want to learn more about identifying, evaluating and protecting local heritage resources, please visit the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website. We are available to assist your municipality.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer


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