Summer at Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites and Museums

The official visitor season for Alberta’s provincial historic sites and museums is in full swing! Explore Alberta’s heritage and interact with the past. If you’re looking for things to do over the summer season, or want to make a pit stop on your road trip, check out some of Alberta’s provincial historic sites and museums, listed below. With plenty of history to choose from, there’s something for everyone on this list!

In addition to the provincial historic sites and museums, there are many other museums and interpretive centres across the province that are fantastic. For a list of those, check out the Alberta Museum Association’s website. Several places are also participating in Historic Places Day on July 7th. This is a day to recognize places that tell Canada’s story, and bring history to life in a way that can’t be done through books and classrooms. For a listing of places and events related to Historic Places Day click here.

Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites and Museums

If you are in, or are planning to visit southern Alberta this summer, make sure you stop by one of our exemplary historic sites.

  • Brooks Aqueduct 
    • Location: 8 km southeast of Brooks, off Trans-Canada Highway 1
    • A three kilometre long, centipede-like structure built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s. It was a vital link in the extensive irrigation network that provided water critical to the dry lands of southern Alberta, and the largest concrete structure in the world at the time.
    • Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10am – 5pm, from May 15 through September long weekend. Admission by donation.
  • Leitch Collieries
    • Location: Highway 3, Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
    • One of the largest and most ambitious coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass. It was active from 1907 to 1915. Ruins of the impressive sandstone buildings that formed surface operations of the mine are still standing. Walk among the powerhouse, mine manager’s house, and coke ovens. Interpreter-led guided walks are available.
    • Open Monday through Sunday 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 15 to September 3, 2018). Admission by donation.
    • Special Events: 
      • August 2nd to August 6th Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival
  • Remington Carriage Museum 
    • Location: Cardston
    • Using state-of-the-art techniques, the museum brings this bygone era to life. Experience authentic 19th and early 20th century horse-drawn transportation. Interactive exhibit galleries tell numerous stories of turn-of-the-century society and the carriage industry.
    • Open 7 days a week from 9am – 5pm (Hours for July-August, 2018). Adults $13, Senior $11, Youth $9, Child Free, Family $35.
  • Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
    • Location: Highway 3, Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
    • The historic site overlooks Canada’s deadliest rockslide. On April 29 in 1903, 110 million tonnes of rock from Turtle Mountain buried part of the coal-mining town of Frank. The Centre tells the story of the Frank Slide, the rich history of the Crowsnest Pass and the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies. Take the walking trails, have a picnic and shop at Rumbler’s Gift Shop.
    • Open 7 days a week, 9am – 6pm (Hours for July 1 to Labour Day). Adults $13, Senior $11, Youth $9, Child Free, Family $35.
    • Special Events:
      • August 2nd to August 6th Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival
  • Turner Valley Gas Plant
    • Location: 60 km south of Calgary in the Town of Turner Valley
    • The cornerstone of Alberta’s early oil and gas industry, get a glimpse into the colourful lives of the workers who were part of that era, and discover the birthplace of Alberta’s petroleum industry.
    • Open Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adults $12, Seniors $10, Youth $4, Child Free, Family $30.
  • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
    • Location: 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod on Secondary Highway 785
    • UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Historic Site and Provincial Historic Site.
    • Learn about the daily life and special ceremonies of Plains bison-hunting culture. This site preserves and interprets over 6,000 years of history and offers spectacular views and hikes.
    • Open Monday through Sunday, 9am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adults $15, Senior $13, Youth $10, Child Free, Family $40.
    • Special Events:
      • July 2nd to August 31st Piskun, the Buffalo Jump (Monday and Fridays only)
      • July 4th to August 29th Drumming and Dancing on the Plaza (Wednesdays only)

If you are looking to explore central Alberta, or are travelling through on your way elsewhere, consider stopping at these historic places and museums as a pit stop or day trip!

  • Lougheed House
    • Location: 707 – 13 Avenue SW, Calgary
    • A grand sandstone prairie mansion built on 2.8 acres of land in 1891 and enlarged in 1907 by Senator James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella. The impressive scale and the high quality of the design, materials and interior furnishings of the house reflected the wealth and prestige of the Lougheeds.
    • The flower and vegetable garden are free to explore, and with paid admission you can explore a self-guided or interpreter-guided tour of the year round revolving exhibits. Try delicious fare at Isabella’s Restaurant or visit the Treasures Gift Shop.
    • Open Wednesday through Friday 11am – 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm. The Gardens are open daily from 7am – Sundown. Adult $8.50, Seniors & Students $6.50, Youth $5, Child Free, Family $25.
  • Stephansson House
    • Location: 30 minutes southwest of Red Deer, off Highway 592 and 781
    • Renowned as one of the greatest poets in the western world, Icelander Stephan G. Stephansson managed to tend this homestead by day and write his famous and respected poetry by night.
    • Costumed interpreters recreate daily chores of this 1920s household, such as spinning wool and baking, combined with leisurely poetry readings.
    • Open Monday through Sunday 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adults $5, Seniors & Students $4, Youth $2, Child Free, Family $14
    • Special Events:
      • July 15th Poetry at Stephan’s House
      • August 19th Harvest Fair and Quilt Show
  • Royal Tyrrell Museum
    • Location: 6 km northwest of Drumheller
    • See more than 35 skeletons of real dinosaurs such as the T. rex, Triceratops and Albertosaurus. Journey through time, as different life forms emerge, evolve and in some cases, face extinction. Watch technicians carefully remove rock around fossils. During the summer, join a guided hike to an ancient dinosaur bone bed.
    • Open Monday through Sunday, 9am – 9pm, (Hours from May 15 to August 31, 2018). Adults $19, Senior $14, Youth $10, Child Free, Family $48. Two-day passes are also available.
    • Also check out the Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Station, northeast of Brooks at Dinosaur Provincial Park.

If you are hoping to stay in and around the Edmonton area, these historic sites are within easy travelling distance – The Rutherford House is a wonderful destination for lunch or a weekend High Tea!

  • Father Lacombe Chapel/Chapelle du Père Lacombe
    • Location: St. Albert
    • Interpreter-led tours of this simple log chapel are available. The chapel, built by Father Lacombe in 1861, is the oldest building still standing in Alberta. It was also the center of the thriving Métis settlement of St. Albert. Visit and discover the life and work of Father Lacombe and early settlement in Western Canada. Guided tours are available in English or French.
    • Open Monday through Sunday 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Admission by donation.
    • Special Events:
      • July 9th to August 20th Homemade Monday (Mondays only)
      • July 22nd A Taste of the Past
      • August 12th Mission Hill Day
  • Rutherford House
    • Location: 11153 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton
    • Alexander Rutherford, Alberta’s first premier, built this post-Edwardian mansion in 1911, welcoming the political and social elite of Alberta. Come visit to experience the gentility of the pre-First World War era. Have afternoon tea in the sun porch or dinner in the oak wainscoted dining room at the Vintage Fork restaurant. Costumed interpreters re-create daily household life and lead guided tours.
    • Open Tuesday through Sunday 9am – 5pm. Adults $7, Seniors & Students $6, Youth $5, Child Free, Family $20.
    • Special Events
      • July 22nd Sunny Summer Fair
      • September 28th to September 30th Culture Days
  • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
    • Location: 25 minutes east of Edmonton on Highway 16
    • Visit the farmsteads, shops and churches of this living-history museum. Explore more than 35 restored historic buildings brought to life. Costumed role-players recreate the life of early Ukrainian pioneers who settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930, Canada’s oldest and one-time largest settlement of Ukrainian pioneers. The food kiosk features authentic Ukrainian fare. Tour the site on foot or hop on a horse-drawn wagon.
    • Open Monday through Sunday, 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adults $15, Senior $13, Youth $10, Child Free, Family $40
    • Special Events:
      • May 21st to September 3rd Peter Shostak: Painting to Remember
      • August 19th Ukrainian Day
      • September 9th Harvest of the Past
  • Victoria Settlement
    • Location: Off Highway 855 near Smoky Lake
    • In 1862, Reverend George McDougall founded a Methodist mission to the Cree. The Hudson’s Bay Company later established Fort Victoria to trade with indigenous peoples. Step inside the restored 1864 Clerk’s Quarters or the 1906 Methodist Church to learn about the growth and decline of this once-bustling community from costumed interpreters, nestled among scenic park land. If you’re feeling adventurous, inquire about the Victoria Trail Voyageur Experience for an immersive tourism experience that links the Fur Trade story with Metis Crossing and Victoria Settlement.
    • Open Thursday through Tuesday, 10am – 5pm (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adults $5, Senior $4, Youth $2, Child Free, Family $14.
    • Special Events
      • July 22nd Frontier Christmas
      • August 19th The Great Alberta Potato Derby: Wholesome, High-fibre Family Fun
  • Reynolds-Alberta Museum
    • Location: 2 km west of Wetaskiwin on Highway 13
    • Celebrate the Spirit of the Machine. This museum boasts a collection of vehicles, aircraft, tractors and industrial machines and pays tribute to mechanical genius. Cruise in a 1927 Model-T touring car or soar in an open cockpit biplane. Cuddle up in the indoor Drive-In, walk the exhibit galleries on your own, or watch museum-quality restoration in progress.
    • Open Monday through Sunday 10am – 5pm. Adults $13, Seniors $11, Youth $9, Child Free, Family $35.
    • Special Events:
      • May 1st to October 8th Feature Exhibition: The McLaughlin Story – 150 Years of Carriage, Cars, and Canada Dry

If you are looking to explore Alberta’s northern landscape, consider adding these historic sites to your itinerary!

  • Fort George and Buckingham House
    • Location: 13 km southeast of Elk Point
    • Engage in Fur Trade history as you hear stories of these fur trade forts during 1792. Visit the exhibit gallery about the lives of the early fur traders. Meet the country wife—the link between two cultures. Take the interpretive path through aspen forests to the archaeological sites of the Forts.
    • Open Monday through Sunday, 10am – 5pm, (Hours from May 19 to September 3, 2018). Adult $5, Senior $4, Youth $2, Child Free, Family $14.
  • Historic Dunvegan
    • Location: 26 km south of Fairview
    • Glimpse into life in this gateway to western expansion of the fur trade. Tour through 3 authentically restored and furnished buildings including the St. Charles Mission Church and the Hudson’s Bay Company factor’s house. Engage in stories and history of Indigenous, fur trade, and mission life through the historic interpreters. Enjoy a hike and picnic along the beautiful mighty Peace River.
    • Open Monday through Sunday, 10am – 5pm (Hour from May 15 to September 3, 2018). Adults $5, Senior $3, Youth $2, Child Free.
    • Special Events:
      • July 7th to August 25th Dunvegan Kids! (Saturdays only)
      • July 8th to August 26th Tea Leave and Bannock Sticks (Sundays only)
  • Oil Sands Discovery Centre
    • Location: 515 Mackenzie Blvd, Fort McMurray
    • Hear the story of the Athabasca Oil Sands—the world’s biggest single oil deposit. Discover how oil was formed millions of years ago, perform experiments used by oil sands pioneers and see how bitumen is extracted and changed into synthetic crude oil. Tour through an industrial garden complete with a seven-storey high bucket wheel, a 150-tonne hauler and a dragline bucket the size of a double garage.
    • Open Monday through Sunday 9am – 5pm. Adults $11, Senior $8, Youth $7, Child Free, Family $29.

If you want to get the most out of visiting these historic sites, consider purchasing an Annual Pass with unlimited access to Alberta’s provincial historic sites and museums. Some of these sites are open all year round, so there is plenty of time to take advantage of the unlimited access! Passes are valid for one full year after date of purchase and are available for purchase upon arrival at any major Government of Alberta provincial heritage facility (except the Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Station), or any AMA offices in Alberta. Price: Family $120, Adult $50, Senior $40, Youth $30, Under 7 FREE.

Museum and historic site staff members are constantly looking to improve and update the visitor experience. If you haven’t visited one of these sites in the past couple years, consider visiting again! There’s always something new to discover about the past.

Please note that the Royal Alberta Museum is currently closed as it moves to a downtown location. The RAM is hoping to open sometime in 2018, so make sure to keep up to date with announcements and news.

Written By: Talisha Chaput

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