The Victoria Day weekend is nearly upon us. For anyone interested in celebrating a low-key day close to home, St. Albert’s Heritage Sites are open for the season.
The heritage sites are a good opportunity to explore historic homes and grain elevators, and rediscover the city’s rich Métis, Francophone and agricultural histories.
Visitors can simulate St. Albert’s early cultural and recreational activities stringing a grain-based necklace, playing outdoor family games, taking part in a scavenger hunt, and helping plant a garden to grow vegetables for St. Albert Food Bank.
The action takes place at 4 Meadowview Drive where two grain elevators, historic homes, a granary, and a large farm-sized garden are located. The theme this year is Planting Seeds + Growing Community. Not only is planting fresh veggies a modern reenactment of early settler life. It also develops bonds between community gardeners, and feeds those in need.
“Last year we made three different donations to the food bank. But we didn’t grow as much as we liked. The weeds took over sooner than expected,” said Christina Hardie, public programs and site manager for the Arts and Heritage Foundation.
The visit to the Meadowview promontory offers first-hand insights into settler families. Strategically placed around the garden are Cunningham House, Belcourt House, La Maison Chevigny and Brosseau Granary.
In the distance, the silver-toned Brackman-Ker Grain Elevator built in 1906 and the green Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator have been beautifully restored and dominate the site.
Hardie noted that the Brackman-Ker Elevator housed grains waiting to be shipped to Vancouver while the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator contained barley, wheat, flax and oats waiting for train departures across Canada and overseas.
While the elevators sustained the lives of many farm families, the replica Train Station next to the elevators, outfitted with a Morse Code telegraph, delivered and received critical information for the community.
Father Lacombe Chapel on Mission Hill will also be open to the public. The Catholic priest originally set up a mission at Lac Ste. Anne in 1840 but in 1861 moved it to St. Albert, a hub that attracted a larger Indigenous population.
“He moved the mission to St. Albert because there wasn’t as good soil at Lac Ste. Anne and he was trying to encourage the Métis to be farmers,” Hardie said.
All events are free. The St. Albert attractions will be open to the public every Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including holiday Mondays until Labour Day.