City of Edmonton

Metis Week in Alberta

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Events are taking place across the province this week in honour of Metis Week, from November 15-21, 2015. This week provides an opportunity to celebrate Metis people, their culture and their contributions.

Louis Riel Day was celebrated on November 16th, the date that marks the anniversary of Riel’s death in 1885. Riel was a Metis leader who fought for the recognition of Metis people and their rights. He is also credited as the founder of the province of Manitoba. Commemorations and events took place in both the Edmonton and Calgary areas.

Many other events are taking place across the province to celebrate Metis week and it’s not too late to take part! For a full listing of events, click here.


Remembering Beverly’s War Dead: Alberta’s First Great War Memorial

Canada is in the midst of marking the centenary of the Great War of 1914-1918. The war which engulfed the Dominion of Canada was to have dramatic effects on the young, barely decade-old province of Alberta. By 1914 Alberta boasted a greatly expanded population of 470,000 of whom more than 49,000 served in Canada’s armed forces. Of that number over 6,000 died and another 20,000 suffered non-fatal casualties.

On the eastern boundary of Alberta’s capital City of Edmonton the coal mining community of Beverly was incorporated as a Village in 1913 and elevated to the status of Town in July of 1914. Just prior to Canada’s entry into the Great War, Beverly had a population of 1,200, attracting residents from across (more…)

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Haunted Heritage

In Alberta, autumn is the perfect mix of sun-soaked days and brisk star-filled nights. Our trees are coloured all sorts of stunning shades of sunburst, heralding the changing seasons. As the winds snatch away the golden foliage, only bare lonely branches are left swaying eerily in their place, it’s the perfect time for telling tales of ghosts and spooky places. From haunted hotels to spooky schoolhouses, Alberta has a rich history rife with ghostly tales. It’s no wonder we love to share local tales of the paranormal.

Here’s our top 5 list of the spookiest heritage sites:

1. The McKay Avenue School: Built between 1904 and 1905, the McKay Avenue School is an early twentieth-century, three-story building situated in the heart of Edmonton’s Downtown district. The building has a red-brick façade with sandstone trim, round arches over the windows, and imposing columns flanking the main entrance. The building hosted the inaugural session of the Alberta Legislative Assembly. It’s also connected to early educational institutions in Edmonton and is an example of stately Richardson Romanesque architectural style.

McKay Avenue School circa 1913, Edmonton (photo courtesy of Provincial Archives of Alberta)

McKay Avenue School circa 1913, Edmonton, said to be haunted by spirits of children and a worker who fell from the roof to his death (photo courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta).

The school is now home to the Edmonton Public Schools Archive and Museum run by the Edmonton Public School Board. Tales abound of possible paranormal activity in the building including objects mysteriously moving around, water taps found running, and lights being turned off and on by (more…)

Labour Day Weekend at Alberta’s Historic Sites, Interpretive Centres and Museums

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!

In Southern Alberta, the Brooks Aqueduct and Leitch Collieries (more…)

Flint Knapping with the Archaeological Society of Alberta

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.

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ASA participants using hammerstones to produce lithic (stone) flakes and debitage.

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.

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A knapper 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.

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Some of the tools created at the ASA Flint Knapping workshop

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.

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Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Permits & Digital Information Coordinator.

Speakers’ Studio – Doors Open Edmonton

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Time: 1pm

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

Participate in the Workings of a 1900s Household!

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.

Daily Events

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.

Read about other Historic Festival & DOORS OPEN Edmonton events.

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)