Adventure awaits at Alberta historic sites, museums and archives

RTMP_DinoKid_Opening of Sites

Join hundreds of thousands of visitors this summer in exploring 20 provincially-owned historic sites, museums and archives for an affordable Alberta adventure.

Whether you’re looking to get away, plan a unique date night, or take the entire family on an affordable day trip, our heritage facilities have an adventure waiting for you. For a glimpse of what you can do at each site this summer, check out the details below; you can get more detailed programming and event information by clicking on each site’s individual webpage and special events sections.

Looking for a grand adventure? Consider buying an Experience Alberta’s History Pass to receive unlimited admission to all operating historic sites and museums for one full year from the date of purchase.  This pass is an awesome option for people who plan to visit one facility multiple times, or several facilities any number of times.

Find our sites on social media to stay in touch and share your visit experience. We hope to see you out this summer!

Central Alberta

Father Lacombe ChapelSt. Albert

Enjoy the view from the top of Mission Hill and celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary on July 1. Throughout the day, take part in crafts for all ages, a scavenger hunt and tours of the chapel and grounds. Celebrate Mission Hill Day in August where costumed historical interpreters will conduct tours and the entire family can enjoy historic demonstrations, crafts, games and a tall glass of lemonade.

Fort George and Buckingham House — St. Paul

The story of these two forts is not just about furs, forts, and trading, but about the lives of those who lived or came to trade there. You can learn their stories in the modern interpretive centre and then take a guided walk on a winding trail through the lush aspen forest. Stand where the forts once stood and where history actually happened.

 Looking to learn basic survival skills? Fort George and Buckingham House has you covered. In 1792, this wilderness area was home to the Cree who lived in harmony with their environment and used their knowledge, skills and the abundant natural resources to live. For unskilled European traders however, it could be a fearsome and deadly place. This July, join the annual Bushcraft 1792 event and discover what day to day life in the fur brigades required from the historical re-enactors of the Edmonton House Brigade.

Provincial Archives of AlbertaEdmonton

Join the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA) in celebrating its 50th anniversary with a year of special events and exhibits (program information available on the PAA website). The PAA is a treasure trove of the past that has something to offer everyone from seasoned genealogists to individuals curious about their ancestors. Albertans are invited to explore the Archives’ vast collection of photographs, documents, sound recordings and unique exhibits that will acquaint visitors with the cast of legendary characters who wrote and starred in Alberta’s story.

Reynolds-Alberta Museum  – Wetaskiwin

This international award-winning museum is all about celebrating the Spirit of the Machine. With an outstanding collection of cars, airplanes, tractors and industrial machines, the museum pays tribute to mechanical genius. The museum offers plenty of fun for visitors of all ages. From cruising the grounds in a chauffeur-driven vintage vehicle to barn-storming in an open cockpit biplane, these are experiences that make for great summer memories.

This summer, explore the latest exhibition, The McLaughlin Story, or take part in popular annual events including History Road: the Ultimate Car Show (June), the Motorcycle “Ride to Reynolds” (August) or the Harvest Festival (September). There is sure to be an event to rev up visitors of all ages.

Royal Alberta Museum — Edmonton

Note: The Royal Alberta Museum is currently closed as part of its transition to the new downtown museum. Follow them on social media to stay in touch.

Rutherford HouseEdmonton

Tucked inside the University of Alberta campus is the home of Alberta’s first premier, Alexander Cameron Rutherford. This post-Edwardian style building and the beautiful surrounding gardens have been restored to their former glory for you to enjoy.

Celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary with a Dominion Day picnic on July 1 — bring your lunch, and staff will supply iced tea and cookies while you try your hand at croquet. You can also discover July’s sunny summer fair event filled with old-fashioned carnival games, historic crafts, games, tasty treats and live performers. Whatever you choose to attend, rest assured you will be welcomed with Rutherford House’s tradition of hospitality.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village25 minutes east of Edmonton

A drive 25 minutes east of Edmonton along Highway 16 will take you back in time to see the triumphs and hardships of Alberta’s Ukrainian pioneers. The outdoor living history museum is made up of more than 35 relocated and restored buildings and farmsteads that tell the story of Ukrainian pioneers who settled in east central Alberta between 1892-1930.

The whole family can join in with common pioneer activities like farm chores, planting, cooking traditional foods, tending gardens or winnowing grain. Take the family on a free horse drawn wagon ride or observe how a grain elevator works. Throughout the summer months there are multiple themed festivals and events, like the Celebration of Spring (May 22), Vintage Day (June), Ukrainian Day (August), the Friends Ukrainian Music Festival (August) and the Harvest of the Past (September).

Northern Alberta

Historic Dunvegan — near Fairview

Alberta is founded on the history of our First Nations. The places and memories of the days when missionaries arrived and encountered Alberta’s first peoples can be found all over Alberta, and Historic Dunvegan is a great example or that bygone era. Spread out over one kilometre in an outdoor, rural setting, there’s a lot for the whole family to explore.

Canada’s 150th anniversary is extra special for this site as 2017 also marks 150 years since Dunvegan’s own St. Charles Catholic Mission was founded. To celebrate, explore Dunvegan’s four, fully-restored historic buildings, play games, learn a craft and enjoy family fun for all.  Come August, experience the time-honoured tradition of trading and gathering at Historic Dunvegan’s Fresh Air Market. Get to know local artisans and the products they passionately create.

Oil Sands Discovery CentreFort McMurray

Located in the heart of the world’s biggest single oil deposit, the Athabasca Oil Sands, the Centre is an educational facility committed to increasing public awareness and knowledge about the oil sands. Come to the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and experience the history, science, and technology of the oil sands. It’s the closest you can get without boots and a hard hat!

Southern Alberta

Brooks Aqueductnear Brooks

More than 90 years ago, the Brooks Aqueduct served as a vital link in the Canadian Pacific Railway’s irrigation network. The three-kilometre-long concrete sling hangs 20 metres above the prairie and carried precious water to the important farmlands of southwestern Alberta. In its time it was the longest concrete structure of this kind in the world and a technological wonder that stretched the limits of engineering design.

Interpretive guides offer site tours and public programs throughout the summer. After you’ve learned about this engineering marvel, stop and have a picnic on site in the beautiful surrounding area.

Frank Slide Interpretive CentreCrowsnest Pass

Sleeping in the shadow of Turtle Mountain, part of the town of Frank in southern Alberta was buried at 4:10 a.m. on April 29 in 1903 when Canada’s deadliest rockslide took more than 90 lives. The site is now home to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre where visitors can get a first-hand account of the event that is Canada’s deadliest landslide in national history. Indoors, you’ll find award-winning audio visual presentations and exhibits. Outdoors, a 1.5 kilometre trail winds through the rocks of the Frank Slide, allowing you to take an up-close look at more than 90 million tonnes of rock surrounding the interpretive centre.

This summer, help mark the 103rd Anniversary of another tragedy in this area, the Hillcrest Mine Disaster — visitors can explore the heart-breaking story of 189 men who died in the Hillcrest Mine and participate in special interpretive programs. Come August, take part in the Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival that features Alberta’s Prohibition story where lawmen chased rum runners in southern Alberta. Hear the amazing real-life stories of Emperor Pick and the shooting of Constable Lawson.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jumpnear Fort Macleod

Where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plain, one of the world’s largest, oldest and well-preserved buffalo jumps stands still in time. Nestled within a cliff side, the interpretive centre gives visitors a first-hand look at the cultural significance of this cliff to the Plains People.

There are opportunities to take in the view of the impressive landscape and stand on grounds that remain sacred to Blackfoot culture. Visitors can hike paved trails, take interpreted walks beneath the cliff and participate in a number of special programs including a hike to the drive lanes (first Saturday of every month), geocaching beneath the cliff (June) or celebrating one of their biggest annual events, National Aboriginal Day (June 21), with native drumming and dancing, Blackfoot elders telling stories of the ancient buffalo culture and sampling Indigenous food.  In July and August, become immersed in the new Pis’kun the Buffalo Jump program by participating in a smudge ceremony, shooting an atlatl (spear thrower) at a buffalo target, and playing a role in the buffalo hunt re-enactment.  Every Wednesday, feel the vibrations of the drumming while you watch authentic First Nation dancing.

Leitch CollieriesCrowsnest Pass

In 1907, Leitch Collieries was one of the most impressive and sophisticated early coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass, but today all that remains are the graceful ruins. Take a guided tour and learn about how the effects of World War 1 and a strained relationship with Canadian Pacific Railway contributed to the collapse of this progressive mining venture.

Lougheed HouseCalgary

Discover this grand sandstone prairie mansion built in 1891 and become mesmerized with the impressive scale and the high quality of design, materials and interior furnishings of the house that reflect the wealth and prestige of the Lougheeds. Visit their website for more information on special events and programming.

Remington Carriage MuseumCardston

The Remington Carriage Museum houses the largest collection of horse drawn vehicles in North America with more than 270 carriages, buggies, wagons and sleighs. Carriage rides are available during the summer to bring this bygone era to life.

Celebrate Canada Day by taking a guided tour in the museum’s new McLaughlin Story exhibition or participate in a themed activity.  Have fun in Party in the Park with lots of family activities and consider staying for the spectacular evening fireworks display. The Miniature Horse Chuckwagon Championships are back this August and you can watch teams from across Western Canada compete in a friendly contest of horsemanship and spirited fun as they race around the Remington race track.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of PalaeontologyDrumheller

As Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to palaeontology, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology has established itself as an epicentre of scientific research and public engagement. In its 32-year history, the museum has collected some of the best fossils in the world that have given us a better understanding of what life was like in ancient Alberta.

Year-round you can explore the Museum’s thirteen galleries, including the famous Dinosaur Hall, home to one of the largest displays of dinosaurs in the world. Check out the Museum’s latest exhibit, Grounds for Discovery, that features a new species of nodosaur (armoured dinosaur) that is the oldest dinosaur known from Alberta at approximately 112 million years old! From May to September, visitors can also participate in one of 12 regular interactive programs at the Museum. The whole family can excavate in a realistic quarry with the tools and techniques used by actual palaeontologists and make fossil replicas to take home.

Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Station50 km northeast of Brooks

Walk the trail of the dinosaurs at Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the richest fossil sites in the world. Outside, enjoy a guided hike or bus tour (via reservation). Inside, take in the interactive exhibits or catch a short film in the theatre.

Stephansson House30 minutes southwest of Red Deer

If you’re a person who is inspired by Alberta’s amazing vistas and vast prairies, you might understand how Icelandic immigrant Stephan G. Stephansson, also known as “the poet of the Rocky Mountains” became one of Canada’s most prolific poets. Visit this historic site and surrounding homestead to see a snapshot of the life of a small group of Icelandic immigrants in the early 1900’s.

This July, enjoy the creative writing of some of Alberta’s literary talents during the annual poetry event filled with music, Icelandic baking and crafts, and games for the kids. Later in August, the Harvest Fair provides an afternoon of fun and games for the whole family with musical entertainment, and artisan demonstrations, including a cornucopia of quilts! Kids are invited to participate in our old-fashioned penny arcade with carnival games and crafts.

Turner Valley Gas PlantTurner Valley (south of Calgary)

The Turner Valley Gas Plant is a tangible symbol of the development of western Canada’s first commercial petroleum producer. Visit the site on weekends and holiday Mondays between May 20 and September 4 for a guided tour the site to learn about its history.

Victoria Settlement — near Smoky Lake

In 1864, two years after the establishment of a Methodist Mission at the site, the Hudson’s Bay Company established Victoria Post to trade with the local Cree people and Métis settlers. Over 150 years later the 1864 Hudson’s Bay Clerk’s Quarters and the 1906 Pakan Methodist Church have been restored and remain as living reminders of that time. This historic site brings together three major themes from Alberta’s history: missionary activity, the fur trade and settlement.

Costumed interpreters will walk with you as you explore the 1864 Clerk’s Quarters and the 1906 Methodist Church and discover the stories of a time of great change. Try the bitter yet sweet taste of handmade licorice, wander the paved interpretive path, then have a picnic in the shade or play a game of horseshoes. Take part in a full afternoon of zany potato fun for all ages during the potato fair event this August. This annual celebration marks the potato’s key role in the survival of this community in its early days. Enjoy a free baked potato, win prizes and race your “spudcar” on Alberta’s first potato racing track.

5 thoughts on “Adventure awaits at Alberta historic sites, museums and archives

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