Sep 032017
 

Journey through Western Canadian history at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary

Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta brings history to life
with historic buildings, working antiques and costumed interpreters

Heritage Park Historical Village, an accredited museum spread over 127 acres in Calgary, Alberta, recounts history through a collection of reconstructed and original buildings, interpreters and displays. Original buildings have been moved from other parts of the province and restored. Signs outside the buildings provide information about their origin and history. Inside, rooms are decorated in period style. Costumed interpreters contribute to the old-time ambiance and provide information. The park’s attractions span Western Canadian history from the 1860s to the 1950s in four main areas of the park.

1900s Living Historical Village

1900s Living Historical Village in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

The 1900s Historical Village comprises the largest section of the park. It contains assorted businesses, community buildings and residences.

Prince House, circa 1894, in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

The 3,330 square foot Prince House was built in 1894 in Calgary

Prince House parlour in in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Interpreter playing music for us in the Prince House parlour

Prince House dining room in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Prince House dining room

Sandstone House in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Sandstone became a popular building material after an 1886 fire destroyed much of Calgary’s commercial district. This sandstone bungalow was built in 1891.

Thorpe House in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Thorpe House, built in 1886, was one of the first Calgarian homes to made of milled lumber with outer walls insulated with brick mortar.

Rooms in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Small sample of interior rooms from several homes

Flett's Blacksmith Shop in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Flett’s Blacksmith Shop

Stratmore & Bow Valley newspaper office in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

The Strathmore & Bow Valley Standard weekly newspaper was founded in 1909. In small newspapers like this, the owner did it all: reporting, typesetting and running the presses.

Weedon School in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Weedon School from 1910

Travelling carnival in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

There is a travelling carnival with a ferris wheel, a carousel, and games of amusement, such as Ball Toss and Milk Bottle Toss

Shonts Grain Elevator in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Inside the Shonts Grain Elevator, circa 1909

Grain elevator agent in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Interpreter at Shonts Grain Elevator

By 1900, western farmers were delivering grain to more than 450 elevators. The elevator agent graded, weighed and determined the moisture content of the grain to determine the price to be paid to the farmer before dumping the grain into the “pit”. The pole the interpreter is holding in the above photo was stuck into loads of grain to probe to the bottom and confirm the load was all grain and that there was not something else at the bottom added to increase the weight.

I asked the interpreter about her costume, a dress which seemed to be modelled after a North-West Mounted Police uniform. She spoke of her desire to join the force, expressing certainty the Police would very soon start accepting women as police officers. In actuality, that didn’t happen until 1974.

St. Martin's Anglican Church in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Inside St. Martin’s Anglican Church, built 1896

Montefiore Synagogue in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Montefiore Institute, a synagogue built in 1916

Wainwright Hotel in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Wainwright Hotel & Bar Room, built 1907

Burnside Ranch House in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Burnside Ranch House , 1904

Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

It’s the many details within and without the buildings that give a feeling of authenticity. I was impressed with the flowers planted in front of houses. These were the type of plants one would expect to see in this time period.

There is much more to see than what I’ve highlighted. There are other homes, a laundry, a café, a bakery, a snooker parlour, a dairy barn, an opera house, a railway car shop, a hospital, a bank, a post office, police barracks and assorted shops. Wagon rides are available as are boat rides on the Glenmore Reservoir.

S.S. Moyie in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Two-thirds size replica of the S.S. Moyie,a boat built in 1898 to ferry miners and supplies across the Stikine River in northern British Columbia

1880s Pre-Railway Settlement

1880s pre-railway settlement in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Cabin in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Cabin built in 1884 with logs salvaged from an abandoned mining town

Mounted Police post in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Berry Creek North-West Mounted Police Post

Store in in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Inside the general store

Gleichen School in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Gleichen School

The modest log Gleichen School House was built in 1888 by Victor Beaupre and donated to the town of Gleichen. Like many rural schools, it did not have formal grades or exams. Students worked through a series of readers and primers. When I went into the school house, I saw a young boy and girl at one of the desks talking with the teacher-interpreter about those old school days. The boy was surprised to learn the students studied history because they were part of history. The teacher-interpreter told him the students would have learned older history. He was also curious about how all ages and grade levels co-existed in the one room, asking if different desk groupings were used for different grades. The teacher-interpreter told him that would have been the case, although that might vary a bit depending on the numbers of children at each age level.

1860s Fur Trading Fort and First Nations Encampment

First Nations Encampment in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

First Nations Encampment

Hundson's Bay Company Fur Trading Fort in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Hudson’s Bay Company Fur Trading Fort, circa 1860

In the latter part of the seventeenth century, European demand for furs attracted trading companies to North America. At Hudson’s Bay Company forts, aboriginals of many tribes exchanged furs for a variety of European-manufactured goods.

Fort trading store in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Fort trading store

Fort in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Living quarters inside the fort

When I entered the fort living quarters, a group of girls dressed in aproned dresses and white bonnets, styles from the 1800s, were finishing up a craft. Their leader beckoned her “time travellers” outside for lunch. I asked about the group and learned that Heritage Park has a variety of summer camp programs for children aged six to fourteen, ranging from day camp experiences to week-long overnight camps.

Heritage Town Square and Gasoline Alley Museum

heritage Square at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Heritage Town Square is located before the Park gates and does not require admission. The square contains five shops, a café, a restaurant and a park. Every Wednesday evening during July and August, Heritage Town Square hosts free concerts.

Gasoline Alley Museum in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Gasoline Alley Museum contains automobile memorabilia dating from the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s. Local businessman Ron Carey donated the items.

Gasoline Alley Museum in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Inside Gasoline Alley Museum

General Information

Heritage Park Town Square and Gasoline Alley Museum are open year-round. The rest of the park is open from mid-May to early-October. In those summer months, admission to Gasoline Alley Museum is included with the entrance to the rest of the park. In the winter, there is a separate entrance fee for the Museum.

Train in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Some but not all of the buildings are wheelchair accessible. The map you receive with your entrance identifies which buildings are wheelchair accessible as well as listing activities of the day. Although all sections of the park are accessible on foot, a railway running through the Park has five station stops to help you get from one area to another.

Shepard Station in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Alberta

Shepard Station

With over 180 exhibits and attractions, expect to spend the better part of a day at Heritage Park Historical Village. There are restaurant facilities as well as an ice cream store, a candy store selling a large selection of old-fashioned treats, and a bakery offering bread, buns and cookies. There are also several places to sit and picnic if you prefer to bring your own lunch.

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  19 Responses to “Journey Through Western Canadian History at Heritage Park”

  1. What a cool attraction for history buffs. Interesting exchange with the interpreter in the red tunic. Moving forward on women’s equality always seems to take much longer than we think it will.

    • Deb, definitely a cool attraction for history buffs. Sometimes the look back at where things were with women’s equality in years past reminds us we have made strides, other times it reminds us how slow the progress is.

  2. Great looking town. Does it have full-time residents?

    • Ken, it has no residents. It is purely a museum – a contrived village of buildings moved there. But it is so complete with so much attention paid to detail, you could imagine living there.

  3. Sounds like you’ve found another stellar place to visit, Donna. I enjoy when there is so much to see that you go into brain overload–I like that there is a lot of reading available outside the buildings. Sigh, another place to add to my Canadian road trip list. Between you and Doreen Pengracs, I am loaded with sights!

  4. Donna, you find the most interesting of places! You had me hooked with the opening photo!!

  5. We have such marvellous historic parks on the Prairies, don’t we, Donna? My husband would really enjoy the Gasoline Alley Museum.

  6. I always enjoy heritage parks as a way of “revisiting” the past. It looks as if there’s loads to see at Calgary’s Heritage Park.

  7. After reading your post I realize that there’s so much more of Canada that we need to discover. Great post, loved learning all the history of Heritage Park.

  8. This is a perfect pin for my Canada Pinterest board. I really enjoy visiting historical villages with “interpreters”, the biggest one I’ve been to being Williamsburg, Virginia. It seems that Heritage Park has even more to explore. As you know, we recently visited Ottawa and Gatineau. Based on my reading of your blog, it’s time to take our Canadian travel further west.

    • Suzanne, I too enjoy historical villages with interpreters. I’d love to visit the one in Williamsburg. And I’d love to see you if you take your Canadian travels further west.

  9. What a great step back in time! I love places like this Canadian heritage park where you really get a sense of what it was like way back when. Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary looks amazing.

    • Cathy, when you get a number of different buildings together in a “village” like this, it really does give a great sense of what it must have been like back when.

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