The Big Four and Alberta Place Names

This post was originally published on July 10, 2012 in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. It highlights the place names and geographical features in Alberta named after The Big Four – the ranchers and businessmen that funded Guy Weadick’s 1912 wild west show and rodeo, which grew to become today’s Calgary Stampede. Six years later, the Stampede is once again in full swing – a good excuse to revisit the legacy of the Big Four.

On the west side of Stampede Park, rising from the seething mass of carnival rides, concession stands and humanity that is the Stampede midway is the Big Four Building. This building is named for the Big Four – the four Southern Alberta ranchers and businessmen who funded Guy Weadick’s proposed rodeo and wild west show in 1912. Intended to be a one-time event, the show and rodeo grew to become the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. To say that the Big Four influenced Calgary’s popular culture would be a great understatement.

The Big Four with HRH Edward, Prince of Wales at the EP Ranch, 1923 LtoR: Pat Burns; George Lane; Edward, The Prince of Wales; Archie McLean; and A. E. Cross. (Provincial Archives of Alberta, A2658)

However, the legacy of the Big Four extends beyond the boundaries of Stampede Park. They left their mark not only in Calgary, but on the geography of the Province of Alberta. This blog post is the first of three that look at the Big Four – George Lane, A. E. Cross, Archie McLean and Pat Burns – and the places named for them. Read more

Every Place Has a Story

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Strikes, war and untimely death are all part of the story of the ambitious mining venture at Leitch Collieries in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

Saturday, July 7 is Canada Historic Places Day. Here in Alberta, you might be picturing a museum, an old Ukrainian farm house or that retrofitted old warehouse in downtown Calgary or Edmonton.

In reality, historic “places” can be much more than urban buildings or interpretive centres. They’re vast swaths of land where First Nations hunted or geological landmarks tens of thousands of years in the making.

Everyone across the province is invited to head out this weekend to learn about the stories, people and places that have shaped our province. We have more than 700 historic places designated under the province’s Historical Resources Act…maybe one of those is right in your neighbourhood!

When you’re out exploring Alberta’s historic places, share your stories on social media using the hashtag #HistoricPlacesDay. And head over to historicplacesday.ca to find out how a selfie could land you a chance to win $1,000.

Historic Resources and Flooding

During the past few weeks, areas of southern Alberta have been affected by overland flooding, and this week warnings were issued for areas in northern Alberta (https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx). Floods can affect historic resources such as historic buildings, museum collections and archaeological sites. The June 2013 flood is an example of a flood event that had a large impact on historic resources, causing damage to some historic sites and buildings and exposing or washing away archaeological sites.

Flood damage from the June 2013 flood to the chicken coop at E.P. Ranch, photo taken April 2014.

If you are looking for information about how to deal with historic resources impacted by flooding, please refer to our ‘Flood Info’ page that features the following articles:

If you think you have come across an archaeological site that may have been exposed by flooding, please report your find to the Archaeological Survey of Alberta: https://www.alberta.ca/report-archaeological-find.aspx

If you think you have found a fossil, please report it to the experts at the Royal Tyrrell Museum: http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/research/identify_fossil.aspx

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year, everyone! We are excited for 2018 and look forward to sharing more of Alberta’s history with our readers.

This past year was a great one for RETROactive. We had our most annual views ever with a total of 72,442, coming from more than 140 different countries. The countries where most of our views came from include Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, and India. We published 48 new posts in 2017 and our busiest day of the year was April 19th when The Tale of a Rusty Revolver was published (this was also our most viewed post of the year).

Did you know that we also have a Facebook page and Twitter account? You can find us on Facebook at “Alberta’s Historic Places” and on Twitter at @ABHistoricPlace, or follow the links below.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Albertas-Historic-Places-180887998609781/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ABHistoricPlace?lang=en

Lastly, our Popular Posts page has been updated. This lists our top 10 posts of all time and is a great way to introduce new readers to our blog – please share the link with your friends, family, and colleagues!

Thank you to all our readers for your support. Here’s to a great 2018! Next week we will have a new post from the Heritage Art Series!

People in costume at United Grain Growers New Year’s Eve Masque Ball, Calgary, Dec. 31, 1917. Photo Credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta, A14708.

Happy Holidays 2017!

The staff of the Historic Resources Management Branch wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

RETROactive has had another successful year and thanks goes to YOU, our amazing readers, for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Our top 5 posts of 2017 were:

  1. The Tale of a Rusty Revolver
  2. The Hardisty Bison Pound
  3. What Happened to Old Fort Edmonton?
  4. Connecting the Continent: Stone Tools in Alberta
  5. The Lovat Scouts – Rocky Mountain Soldiers

RETROactive will be taking a break over the holidays — we will resume publishing on January 3rd, 2018. We look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

Métis Week: November 13 – 18

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Excerpt from Chester Brown’s Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography (Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal, 2003)

November 13 – 18 marks the annual Métis Week celebrations. Each year, the Métis Nation of Alberta hosts events around the province to commemorate not only Riel’s uniquely complicated and heroic legacy, but the outstanding contributions of Métis people to Canada. November 16, the date Riel was executed, will be an especially significant remembrance.

When it comes to defining legacies of the women and men who helped shape Canada into what it is today, few people are as complicated as Louis Riel. The Métis founder of Manitoba and twice-elected Member of Parliament is at the same time revered and scorned; the vanguard of Métis resistance against the federal government is a hero and a traitor, depending who you ask. To this day, over 130 years after he was hanged for treason in Regina, Saskatchewan, Riel is to some still a controversial and polarizing man. But for many, especially Canada’s Métis population, Riel is a man to celebrate and to honour. Read more

Haunted Heritage Part 3: Hair Raising Hotels

Accounts of paranormal activities, ghostly sightings and unexplained phenomena have often been noted in some of the world’s most renowned hotels. Alberta is no exception and is home to several famous hotels with a reputation of spooky occurrences. With Halloween creeping just around the corner, it is a great time to share some supernatural stories about old hotels with a wealth of ghostly lore.

Here are a few allegedly haunted hotels:

The Banff Springs Hotel

The majestic Banff Springs Hotel is a large chateau-style structure overlooking the Bow River Valley in Banff National Park. It is one of our countries original grand railway hotels constructed by Canadian Pacific Railway. Construction on the luxury hotel began in 1887 and it was first opened to the public on June 1, 1888. Between 1890 and 1928, the hotel underwent several periods of construction that involved many improvements to the original building. After a fire destroyed much of the original wooden structure in 1926, the hotel was rebuilt in its current configuration in 1928. Nestled at the foot of Sulphur Read more