Heritage isn’t just memory, it’s culture. See the vibrant buildings, murals, parks, and art throughout Central Alberta’s communities. See it, touch it, and experience it all first hand as you make your way through the region.

History in Red Deer ⁠— Bronzen Ghosts

Downtown Red Deer has many heritage spots, not to mention the Museum and Art Gallery. It’s a great place to begin learning about Red Deer’s history. Cronquist House, Sunnybrook Farm & Museum and Historic Fort Normandeau are all great additions to your journey of discovering Red Deer’s history.

The city is home to many ghosts: life-sized bronze sculptures. With one of the largest public collections in Canada, there are currently ten ghosts scattered throughout downtown. One of the most dramatic is “Sound the Alarm,” located at 49th Street and 48th Avenue. It depicts firefighters and their horses surging into action, and is a vibrant historical representation.

Right next to “Sound the Alarm” lies the former Armoury and Fire Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Red Deer, which now houses a portion of Red Deer’s Public Library. A map inside will offer you an excellent route for the heritage walking tours. Looking out from here, you will see many pieces of Red Deer’s history, all within a short walking distance.

One of the oldest streets in the city is Little Gaetz Ave. For decades, it has been the go-to spot for browsing, shopping, and visiting with friends. Enjoy a leisurely stroll up and down the picturesque street and learn about the people and businesses that helped shape Red Deer.

History in Innisfail ⁠— Shakespeare of Iceland

The Innisfail Historical Village is made up of 18 buildings displayed across two acres of land. Go and see what it was like in the 1930s, or check out the large display of farm machinery just nearby. There’s a day-use picnic area in case you get hungry!

Stephan G. Stephansson wrote poetry in his native tongue and became famous in his homeland, but he settled here as an Albertan homesteader. Visit his original homestead along the Scandinavian Trail. Nearby, there’s the Danish Canadian Museum, the Dickson Store Museum, Historic Markerville, and the Markerville Creamery. Discover what it was like for immigrants who settled in this region at Red Deer’s Norwegian Laft Hus Museum.

History in Lacombe ⁠— The Painted City

In Lacombe, you don’t need to search a buried textbook for history. It decorates the city’s proud walls. There are local street scenes drawn from archival photographs, and downtown boasts six designated Provincial Historic Buildings, including the most intact concentration of Edwardian Architecture in the province. Lacombe’s roots will amaze your eyes as you walk through the city, but you don’t need to wander on your own. You can book a guided tour to make sure that you not only see it all, but understand it all. These tours are offered for free in the summertime during festivals and special events. A costumed interpreter will take you back in time to experience Lacombe’s past through the historic downtown and learn about the beautifully unique buildings and murals. If you would rather make the trip yourself, pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure or booklet at the museums.

Lacombe has living history sites as well. The world’s largest fishing lure is a monument to the city’s history and the iconic family business, Len Thompson, with over 90 years of shaping the North American world of fishing right from Lacombe. There are several museums, including a blacksmith shop museum, and the remarkably fascinating Flatiron Building, which has defined the block’s culture and layout since 1904.

History in Sylvan Lake ⁠— Dust Off The Archives

The Sylvan Lake Historical Walking Tour is a self-guided walking tour that starts at the Sylvan Lake Archives, which can be found on the lower level of the municipal building. This is one of three locations to purchase a passport and map for only a loonie – the other two being the Beachside Tourism Booth in Centennial Park and the Visitor’s Information Centre at 4719 50 Avenue. This is the best way to explore the area and enjoy its history through the town’s brass plaques.

History in Blackfalds ⁠— Full of Firsts

The Blackfalds Historic Walking Tour begins at the Historic Wadey Centre at 4400 South Street. View the sites of the first church, first store, first hotel, and first boarding house. Heritage signs are located at each of these original points of interest, and tell the stories of these amenities as well as the history of the land where Abbey Centre is now located.

History in Rocky Mountain House ⁠— Koo-Koo-Sint

The Stargazer, David Thompson, ancient fur trader, explorer, and cartographer. Head west as he did and experience the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site to learn about him and the paths of voyageurs on the North Saskatchewan River.

Explore the original highway to the west, the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Follow in the footsteps of Indigenous Peoples, fur traders, and the legendary explorer David Thompson. Métis programming, RV camping, and tipis and trappers’ tents are available daily.

History in Stettler ⁠— Steam Train Duels

Stettler’s Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions show off an exciting adventure aboard a real steam-powered train. There are different themes throughout the season, including murder mysteries, family, stage shows, train robberies, seniors, and teddy bear specials. All trips include full course buffet-style meals and on-board entertainment. Want our recommendation? The train robberies are insanely fun, and involve horses and duels as you watch through the train windows!

History in Nordegg ⁠— Remote Mines

The Brazeau Collieries Historic Mine Site is both a Provincial and National Historic Resource. During the summer, there are two-hour long guided tours of this industrial coal mine site. Check out a mine entrance, a 1950s coal briquette plant, or tour the auxiliary buildings to discover how this remote facility operated. Discover Nordegg’s part in the development of western Canada!

No matter where you go, there’s an endless list of things to see. So go! There’s no time to enjoy the past like the present.

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