Meet Dinosaurs, Coal Miners and Pioneers: Adventures in Southern Alberta

Where else but southern Alberta can you dig for dinosaurs, ride in a horse-drawn carriage and explore a world-famous rockslide all in one summer? With the Experience Alberta’s History Pass, the whole family can visit all of Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, Museums and Interpretive Centres for just $75.

As you stand under the huge Brooks Aqueduct, you can see why it was the largest structure of its kind when it was built 100 years ago. Take a tour to learn how this enormous aqueduct channelled water to parched prairie farmland as part of south eastern Alberta’s vital irrigation network. Stop for a picnic at this National and Provincial Historic site.

In the early morning of Apr 29, 1903, a massive rockslide hurled down from Turtle Mountain and buried a portion of the sleeping mining town of Frank. The thunderous roar of Canada’s deadliest rock slide was heard 200 km away. Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to explore what Frank and the Crowsnest Pass were like before, during and after the slide. Take a rocky hike and breathe in the crisp mountain air.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Fort Macleod is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps. Learn why it was used as a hunting ground for 5,500 years and the important role of the bison for the Aboriginal people who hunted here. Hike 2 km of interpretive trails, watch drumming and dancing demonstrations every Wednesday in July and August.

In 1909, Fort Macleod’s Leitch Collieries was one of the most successful enterprises in the Crowsnest Pass with 101 coke ovens, a soaring wooden washery and a massive tipple. Explore the ruins of this huge mine on a self-guided walking tour or register for an interpretive program to find out what drove the Leitch Collieries  out of business just 10 years later.

Since it was built in 1891, Calgary’s Lougheed House has been a state home, housekeeping and nursing school, Canadian Women’s Army Corps barracks and a Second World War blood donor clinic. Now the sandstone mansion houses historical displays, an elegant restaurant and historic themed flower and vegetable gardens. Make a special stop at the colourful butterfly-themed flower beds.

The Okotoks Erratic – the world’s largest known naturally transported rock – weighs 16,500 tonnes and took over 8,000 years to travel from Jasper area on the back of a glacier. This is a perfect place to walk your dog and learn about glacial movement and the importance of the “Big Rock” to Aboriginal people.

Treat the horse admirers in your family to a carriage ride around Cardston’s Remington Carriage Museum and introduce them to the museum’s herd of Clydesdales and Quarter horses. Little ones can also try a new mini-chuckwagon exhibit – while watching actual footage from the championships held here, they’ll feel the ride move as if they’re really driving it around the track.

Dino-obsessed kids can prospect for fossils and work in a simulated quarry in “Jr. Dig Experience”, a program just for pre-teens at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, in Drumheller. The Museum’s new exhibit Alberta’s Last Sea Dragon, solving an ancient puzzle, gets you up close to a 12-metre sea dragon.

On your next daytrip, tour Stephansson House north of Markerville, the famous Icelandic pioneer poet’s early 20th century homestead. Costumed interpreters at the house provide a tour with hands-on demonstrations which may include poetry and baking. Stop at the Historic Markerville Creamery 7km south in Markerville to learn the intricacies of butter making.

Don’t forget about all the exciting Provincial Historic Sites, Museums and Interpretive Centres located in northern Alberta!

Search the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the above Provincial Historic Sites, which are also formally protected as Provincial Historic Resources.

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