Alberta Historical Resources Foundation visits Olds

The Alberta Historical Resource Foundation held its first quarterly board meeting of 2014 in the town of Olds on February 21st and 22nd.

Alberta Historical Resources FoundationThe Foundation’s board members and staff look forward to the quarterly meetings, each held in a different Alberta community. This allows us to meet the Albertans who work so hard to conserve and promote our heritage; seeing and experiencing the fruits of their labour is both informative and a pleasure.

Friday afternoon began with a bus tour led by Donna Erdman, chair of the Olds Historical Society. Before we boarded the bus, Mitch Thompson of the Olds Institute surprised us by asking us to turn on our smartphones. Mitch showed us the new EverythingOlds.ca website—the Heritage Sites section contains video vignettes showcasing locally significant historic resources. (There’s much more community information on the website too.)

Once the bus got underway, Donna showed us some of the historic places the Town of Olds evaluated in 2009 (with the assistance of a Foundation grant and the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program staff). Many of these places have since been designated as Municipal Historic Resources.

Our bus first stopped at the Mountain View Museum and Archives. There were several interesting displays that used locally significant historical artefacts to highlight the region’s history. We also learned a bit about their archival holdings and viewed some of the contemporary art displayed in the adjoining art gallery.

Our next stop was the former Canadian Bank of Commerce, now home to [sic] Pandora’s Boox and Tea. The beautiful, classically-detailed bank building has been adapted for its new use as a book store and coffee shop. Pandora’s is in the heart of Uptowne Olds, the town’s historic commercial district.

Upon re-boarding the bus, we were slowly driven up and down the several blocks that make up the Uptowne area. We admired the many historic resources in the Uptowne. Olds is one of four communities that the Foundation has accredited through its Alberta Main Street Program. We were impressed by the conservation projects currently being undertaken on several buildings in the Uptowne area (some with the Foundation’s support).

We briefly visited the grounds of the Olds Agricultural Society. Olds’s large Ag society is one of the olds-est (pun not intended) Agricultural Societies in Alberta, having been incorporated in 1899. Our next stop was the Olds College.

Olds College celebrated its centenary in 2013. Founded in 1913, the college is Alberta’s largest and olds-est (there I go again) rural agricultural college. The campus has evolved with the college it houses, but amidst all the modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries and dorms are at least two buildings older that the college they’ve become an integral part of: a calf barn (now home to a herd of goats) and a horse barn. Both buildings were constructed in 1911, when what is now a campus was part of a provincial demonstration farm.

We ended our visit to Olds College by visiting to their state of the art brewery: an example of how the college contributing to Alberta’s future by being true to our agricultural past. The first class of brewers will graduate shortly.

The tour was followed by a meet and greet at the Pomeroy Inn. Thanks to Michelle Jorgensen (Heritage Advisor, Town of Olds) for organising an informative and fun event. It was a pleasure to meet and speak with Mayor Judy Dahl, and with  members of the town staff, the Mountain View Museum and Archives, the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development, Olds College and many citizens of the area who build the partnerships that protect and promote Old’s wealth of historic resources.

Everyone agreed that it was an afternoon well spent that reminded us of how important our work is; it was the best way for the board to get inspired before spending their Saturday immersed in paperwork.

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The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation has been collaborating with the citizens of Olds through its grant programs for over two decades. The Town of Olds has completed a full range of heritage planning projects with the assistance of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program, including a heritage survey, inventory and management plan. As an Accredited Main Street Community, the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (Olds Main Street sponsoring organization) was recently awarded a coordinator salary subsidy along with marketing, economic development, organization and design grants. The Heritage Preservation Partnership Program has also provided technical advice and conservation grants to a number of Olds’s Municipal Historic Resources.

Written by: Carina Naranjilla, Grant Program Coordinator, Alberta Historical Resources Foundation; and Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

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