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Preserving Alberta's Heritage

Which local or regional building or site most deserves a historic designation?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students explore the importance of preserving heritage sites or buildings by completing an application form for historical designation, then, as mock representatives from the Ministry of Community Development, determine which one(s) should be designated as a local or regional historic site.

To prepare for the challenge, research potential buildings or sites suitable for the project. Consider sites that have significance in a number of different areas, such as:

  • architectural–are of unique design or typify period construction
  • artistic–are the subject of a painting, photograph or song
  • economic–reflect the community's economy, such as a grain elevator or railway roundhouse
  • cultural–represent the community's cultural heritage or diversity, such as Father Lacombe Chapel, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
  • recreational–illustrate the region's natural resources or seasonal activities, such as a campsite or waterfall
  • historical–contributed to the development of the community, such as Fort McLeod or Leduc #1
  • educational–provide valuable learning experiences, such as Gopher Head School in Byemoor or TELUS World of Science™–Edmonton (previously known as Odyssium)
  • archaeological–contain important archaeological or palaeontological findings.

Activity 1
Use a picture book to introduce the concept of preservation. Suitable books include Crescent Dragonwood's Home Place, Troon Harrison's The Memory Horse or Natalie Kinsey-Warnock's Sweet Memories Still. Discuss the importance of preserving the past; e.g., helps us learn about our heritage, old buildings provide clues to who lived in, discovered or developed communities or regions, historical artifacts often reflect the culture, language or identity of the people who owned or used them. Discuss the difference between preservation (i.e., repairing, stabilizing, mothballing) and restoration (i.e., accurately revealing, recovering or representing a historic resource or an individual component as it appeared at a particular period in its history). Suggest that heritage conservation is critical to ensure the physical evidence of history is preserved for future generations.

Activity 2
Explain that the class is going to research buildings or sites in the community or region that should be preserved. Inform students they will complete an application for historic designation that, if accepted, will save the site or building from being torn down or left to deteriorate. Indicate that completed applications will be submitted for consideration by mock representatives from the Ministry of Community Development.

If possible, arrange a walking tour of the buildings or sites. Provide digital cameras so students can take photographs. Alternatively, you may wish to have students conduct a virtual tour or supplement their walking tour with Internet research. Suitable websites include Alberta Heritage's listing of Historic Sites, organized by region, and the Enjoying Alberta's listing of Museums and Historic Sites. Local archives, libraries or historic associations may be good sources of information.

Activity 3
Assign each student or group of students a building. Provide them with a mock application form. Possible data to record includes:

  • address of building or site
  • date of construction
  • type of structure/site; e.g., house, factory, spiritual meeting place, marsh
  • type of construction; e.g., log, brick, frame
  • present condition; e.g., roof, siding, windows, frames, foundation
  • photographs or drawings of the exterior and interior, if possible
  • original use(s)
  • historical significance
  • important events associated with the site or structure
  • why preservation is important.

Discuss the criteria for an effective application; e.g., complete, accurate.

Activity 4
Suggest students pretend they are the selection panel of the Heritage Resource Management Branch–a Division of the Alberta government's Ministry of Community Development–that will hear presentations from concerned citizens. Decide on criteria for designating a building or site historic. For example:

  • uniqueness of the site
  • importance to the economic, social or cultural development of the community or region
  • examples of aspects of Alberta's natural or human history.

Have students represent concerned citizens as they present their completed application. Direct the panel to use the criteria to help them select the most important local or regional building or site to be preserved. Encourage panel members to consider each application in light of the brainstormed criteria before arriving at their individual decisions. Consider using one of the charts or strategies in Rating Options (Support Material) to help structure and assess this activity. At the end of the presentations, collect and collate the results and announce which site has been selected.

Alternatively, use a Wild Rose rating system; give each panel member seven roses to award to the location(s) he or she feels are most deserving. (You may specify a maximum of two roses to any single building or site.) The panel might also select which three buildings or sites should be preserved for economic, social and cultural reasons.

Activity 5
If appropriate, encourage the class to write a letter or make a presentation to the Minister of Community Development or local officials involved in creating historic site designations that advocates for the class-selected building or site to be designated a historic site. Encourage students to explain their choice, using the criteria established in class.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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