If you’re looking for some family fun this Labour Day weekend, consider visiting one of Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, Interpretive Centres or Museums. There is a lot of great programming that offers something for everyone – from strolling through gardens and learning about 1920s fashion, to carriage rides, guided hikes and tours, and getting your hands dirty and bellies full at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Harvest Festival! Many of our sites, centres and museums are open year round but several others will be closing for the season after Labour Day. Don’t miss your opportunity to visit these sites before they close for the year!
The Archaeological Society of Alberta (ASA) is an amateur organization of over 400 members who are dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving Alberta’s heritage. The society regularly holds events that allow the public to actively experience archaeology in the province.
In March the Strathcona chapter of the ASA held a flint-knapping and tool-making workshop in Edmonton. The ASA workshop allowed members to get first-hand experience making the stone, or lithic, tools that are among the most common artifacts found in archaeological sites in Alberta. Prior to the arrival of metals with Europeans in North America, First Nations people created tools such as blades, knives, axes, and projectile points, by knapping stones. Knapping technology is not unique to Alberta, but was used by humans and our ancestors in all parts of the world beginning as early as 3.3 million years ago in Africa. Today many archaeologists practice knapping to better understand the material culture recovered from archaeological sites. Knapping is also a common hobby among archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike.
Creating Stone Tools
First, cores of lithic raw material are precisely broken using hammerstones (stones and antler) to produce large, flat flakes. At the workshop, participants knapped obsidian and dacite, two types of stone that are easy to use for beginners. When knapping, safety is always top priority. Striking stones such as obsidian produces tiny shards of the material, which tend to scatter and can easily cause injury. To prevent accidents, knappers use hand and eye protection, and always have plenty of bandages at the ready. The scattered waste flakes produced when knapping are called ‘debitage’ by archaeologists.
Next, smaller flakes of stone can be worked into tools. Instead of striking the stone, smaller flakes can be removed by applying consistent force in a process called pressure flaking. In the picture below, a knapper is using a copper pressure flaker to work the edge of a projectile point.
Finally, the knappers were able to haft their new tools onto wood or antler shafts and handles. The stone tools were affixed into the wooden handles using pine pitch, and then fastened using animal sinew and hide glue. In archaeological sites the organic shafts, handles, and fastening materials have usually decayed, leaving only the stone tools behind.
Becoming a good knapper takes a lot of patience and practice, and it helps to have a good teacher. If you are interested in learning how to knap stone tools, there will be two knapping events in Alberta this year in July and September.
Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Permits & Digital Information Coordinator.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Location: Prince of Wales Armoury, Edmonton – Jefferson Room.
Ever wonder how the Government of Alberta evaluates places to determine if they are historic? I’m giving a talk on how historic places are evaluated in Alberta as part of the Edmonton Historical Society’s Historic Festival and Doors Open Edmonton Speakers’ Studio. If you’d like to learn more about heritage value, statements of significance and the heritage inventory process come down to the Prince of Wales Armoury on Saturday July 7th. The talk begins in the Jefferson Room at 1pm.
The Prince of Wales Armoury (which is a Provincial Historic Resource) is located south of the Royal Alexandra Hospital at 10440 – 108 Avenue, Edmonton.
Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site is proud to be a part of Historic Festival & DOORS OPEN Edmonton, July 3 – 8, 2012. This year’s festival theme, “Celebrate our Heritage … our Cities,” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the merger of the cities of Edmonton and Strathcona. The Rutherford family contributed greatly to the history of this community and it is fitting for us to celebrate this milestone.
Our events depict what life was like in a large household, in Edmonton, during the early 1900s. Follow the work week of the Rutherford family and the maid of the house. Each day of the festival will have a different activity:
- Wash Day – Tuesday, July 3
- Gardening, the Historic Way – Wednesday, July 4
- Cleaning and Historic Crafts – Thursday, July 5
- Kitchen Clean Up – Friday, July 6
- Baking Day – Saturday, July 7
- A Day of Rest, Music and Tea! – Sunday, July 8
To try your hand at these activities – visit the house between 10:00am – 5:00pm on the indicated day. Rutherford House is located at 11153 Saskatchewan Drive, on the University of Alberta campus.
The Rutherfords’ Contributions to Early Edmonton
Mr. and Mrs. Rutherford with their 2 small children arrived in the community of South Edmonton in 1895. The terminal station of the C & E Railway was located on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River, not far from the current Strathcona Farmers Market. South Edmonton was a budding establishment with growing businesses, rapidly expanding land claims and only 1 lawyer. Mr. Rutherford saw an opportunity to establish his law office and settle his family in this flourishing community.
South Edmonton later became the Town of Strathcona and in 1912 the cities of Strathcona and North Edmonton joined to form Edmonton. Mr. Rutherford not only had a thriving business in this community, but he held several noteworthy positions, including Secretary-Treasurer of South Edmonton School Board, Secretary-Treasurer of the Town of Strathcona, President of the Strathcona Liberal Association, Deputy Speaker of N.W.T. Legislative Assembly, Alberta’s first Premier and the University of Alberta Chancellor. Mr. Rutherford’s commitment and contributions to his community have left an enduring legacy.
Mrs. Rutherford’s commitment to the community was different than Mr. Rutherford’s, but similarly important. She volunteered for the Red Cross, organized charity drives to help the less fortunate and frequently opened her home to fundraising events. She hosted “At Home Teas” and extended an invitation to the community to join her for an afternoon of tea and conversation.
Rutherford House is also a Provincial Historic Resource. Learn about its heritage value from the Alberta Register of Historic Places.
Written by: Alison Moir, Program Coordinator (Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site)
With the turn of the 20th century, Edmonton was beginning a period of rapid development, initiated mainly by its position as the commercial gateway to northwestern Canada. In 1904, Edmonton became a city, and, in 1905, two other events occurred which would solidify its position as a metropolis. First, the city was named the capital of the new province of Alberta, and, second, just as the first Legislative Assembly was convening in September, the tracks of the Canadian Northern Railway were being laid, giving the city a direct line to Winnipeg and the markets of eastern Canada. Four years later, the Canadian Northern was joined by the Grand Trunk Pacific, with a line through the city’s north end and a spur to the city center.
The arrival of these railways brought dramatic change to the city center where, to the west end, a large warehouse district evolved. The north side also saw extensive development as many large industries chose to locate plants and warehouses near the tracks. The railways and the industries they spawned brought masses of working class immigrants to Edmonton, most of who chose to live in neighborhoods near their centers of employment, such as McCauley, Norwood, Riverdale and Bellevue. As a result, small community commercial areas sprang up to provide easy shopping for residents, and facilitate local businesses.
Being close to the city center, the McCauley district had little need for a separate shopping district, and yet there remained an inclination for many small businesses to locate as close to the people as possible. As a result, Namayo Avenue (97th Street) was soon developed into a commercial artery, extending from Jasper Avenue all the way to 111th Avenue, with sections of the street also holding small dwellings. North of the tracks, the street soon assumed the appearance of a small community shopping district, with grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores, restaurants, barber shops, laundries and convenience stores. The shops were mostly modest two story structures, and often the proprietors would live in the same buildings.
In June 1914, when the commercial boom in Edmonton had actually just passed its apex, a headline in the Edmonton Bulletin read “New $35,000 Block for Namayo Avenue.” The owner of the property on the corner of Namayo Avenue and Sutherland Street (9664-106th Avenue) was the Calgary business tycoon, William Roper Hull, who apparently saw the need for an office complex in the area. As designed by E.C. Hopkins and opened the following year, the building was no doubt expected to facilitate small retail businesses and apartment dwellers, as well as office space. The concept of the combined facility was not unlike the Beuna Vista Apartments and the Gibbard Block recently erected among small commercial buildings in other areas of the city that were surrounded by extensive urban development.
Among the first tenants in what became known as the Hull Block was Herb E. Thomson Drugs, which would occupy the premises until 1940. Countless other tenants also came to occupy the building, which today appears to be serving the same purpose for which it was built 87 years ago. Its historical significance lies in its representation of the tremendous commercial growth of downtown Edmonton during the early part of the 20th century. It is also representative of the kind of commercial structure intended to evoke the ethos of a large office complex, but, due to its location near an urban population, was also made to facilitate small retail businesses and apartment dwellers. It is also a significant landmark in the McCauley district of Edmonton. In July 2003, it was designated a Provincial Historic Resource.
Written by: David Leonard, Historian
Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Hull Block. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Hull Block.
Since 2000, the Heritage Canada Foundation has recognized municipalities that have demonstrated leadership in conserving Canada’s historic places with the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership. Recently the Foundation announced that this year’s deadline for nominations for the Prize has been extended to May 31st.
From the Heritage Canada Foundation’s website:
In keeping with His Royal Highness’ commitment to architecture, the environment, and inner-city renewal, The Prince of Wales agreed to lend his title to the creation in 1999 of a prize to be awarded annually to the government of a municipality which has demonstrated a strong and sustained commitment to the conservation of its historic places. The local government must have a record of supporting heritage preservation through such means as regulation, policies, funding and exemplary stewardship. The nomination must provide evidence that heritage properties in the given municipality have improved over a period of time.
The award consists of a metal plaque and a scroll, as well as a flag or pennant to be flown outside the winning municipality’s headquarters and/or placed on permanent display. The Prince of Wales Prize logo must be displayed on the homepage of the municipality’s website.
Communities interested in making nomination for the Prince of Wales Prize may do so by following the “Eligibility Criteria and Nomination Procedures” established by the Heritage Canada Foundation.
Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services
When the Calgary & Edmonton Railway arrived at the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River in 1891, the C & E immediately subdivided a town site which it named South Edmonton. Being at the end of steel, the community steadily grew throughout the decade until, in 1899, it was incorporated as the Town of Strathcona with a population exceeding 1,000. To serve this burgeoning community, which consisted primarily of wood frame buildings, it was obvious that some method of organized fire protection was needed. A volunteer fire brigade was organized in 1901, and, that same year, Town Council provided for the construction of a wood frame fire hall on lot 2, block 79, just north of main street, and near the Town water well. A horse drawn fire wagon with a wooden water tank was then acquired.
As with Edmonton to the north across the river, Strathcona grew rapidly in the wake of the Klondike gold rush. In 1907, it was incorporated as a city with an estimated population of 3,500. It was soon evident that the old fire hall was inadequate, and, so, provision was made for a newer and larger structure. As the City waterworks was right next door to the old fire hall, it was felt appropriate to build the new structure at the same location. The firm of Wilson and Herrald was thus contracted to design, and the firm of J.M. Eaton contracted to build a modern two-story red brick facility which could accommodate three fire wagons. The estimate for construction was $13,715. A stable in the rear was designed for nine horses, while a bell tower extended from the middle of the structure 77 feet in the air. The second floor was made to accommodate a chief’s office, a general hall, bedrooms, a band room, and a bathroom with showers. Two fire poles facilitated instant access to the ground floor.
The Strathcona Fire Hall with its horse-drawn wagons served the City of Strathcona until its amalgamation with Edmonton in 1912. It was then designated as Edmonton Fire Hall #6 and became part of the Edmonton Fire Department. A permanent salaried chief was assigned to the Hall, and the number of salaried firefighters grew over the passage of time. The crews were always supplemented by volunteers in times of emergency. By 1954, however, the facility was considered dilapidated and outdated, and, so, a new fire hall was constructed nearby. The old structure was apparently slated for demolition but was considered adequate for storage, and, so, it was leased to Strathcona Furniture, which used it as a warehouse.
By the early 1970’s, there was a growing appreciation in Edmonton about the early buildings of Strathcona, and, so, when the Walterdale Theatre began to plan for a new home, thoughts turned to the old fire hall, which seemed to provide adequate space for a live theatre building. The Walterdale group moved into its internally renovated facility in 1974, and, in 1976, the structure was designated a Registered Historic Resource. In the years that followed, it became a central venue for Edmonton’s Fringe Festival.
In September 2007, the Strathcona Fire Hall was designated a Provincial Historic Resource. Its historical significance lies in its provision of structural evidence of fire fighting facilities in a large urban area in the early 20th century in Alberta. It is the oldest major fire hall in the province. It is also important as one of the surviving early public buildings of the City of Strathcona, which tells of life in general in this community.
Written by: David Leonard, Historian
Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Strathcona Fire Hall. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Strathcona Fire Hall.