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Highland Hall at Barich

Smoky Lake, Near

Other Names:
Barich Hall

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Highland Hall is a rectangular, one and one-half storey community hall constructed of pink, grey and white masonry (fieldstone) with a concrete foundation and a wood shingle roof.

This relatively small stone and wood community hall was built in 1933 brought about by local Canadian-Ukrainian farmers. The time period was during Alberta’s post-pioneer growth and development and it is situated in the heart of Alberta’s Ukrainian settlement, northwest of the Town of Smoky Lake.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Highland Hall resides in its association with the Ukrainian cultural practice, and its ability to convey the legacy of Eastern European/Canadian Ukrainian construction. As a variation on the common Ukrainian national halls, this hall is of unique construction with its fieldstone walls. Numerous societal changes, based on a disruption of traditional institutions and values were taking place and the Highland Hall was a way to retain their old culture while adapting to a new environment. The purpose of Ukrainian National halls such as this one had a tremendous regional impact and continues to have a local impact as the Barich and Smoky Lake area continue to present the Ukrainian culture evident when you enter the region. The Highland Hall formed part of a rural community network that Ukrainian immigrants found necessary to organize community life. It was named to honor Taras Shevchenko, a prominent figure in Ukrainian history. The hall (narodnyi dim) consists of an auditorium and a stage, ticket booth and concession. The hall was used for meetings, plays, concerts, dances, and special events such as weddings and anniversaries, and later for elections. The hall also served as a Ukrainian “chitalnia” or reading room.

The Highland Hall was (and is) a prominent landmark in the Barich district and plays an important part of a rural community (Barich Corner) with informal but clearly defined boundaries located at a crossroads and established in Smoky Lake County as settlers moved into new homesteads. The Chahor Church and Cemetery, a post office and a store were all central to this particular rural community. This sense of place and identity was evident not only in the Ukrainian community but throughout the influx of immigrants who flooded in from all over. The one acre was parceled out of Ilko Mazur’s quarter section where the ground elevation is higher usurped only by higher ground across the road where a country church resides. This shows a historical pattern of land use where buildings are placed on upper elevations with churches being on the highest hill. Thus the name Highland Hall expresses its physical setting.

The Highland Hall also has architectural significance as an unusual example of a masonry building constructed from fieldstone. Oral histories provided by longtime residents of the area indicate two men from Czechoslovakia were hired to do the stonework and collected stone from the farm fields surrounding the hall. The oral history was provided by a man who, sixteen at the time, watched these men work. Another woman stated her mother fed the men. Other evidence connects this type of field stone with Frank Rupchuk (variously spelled Rupchuk, Rupchyk), a noted local mason and farmer south of Lamont who learned his trade in Poland. He constructed other fieldstone buildings in the region, including the Lamont United Church (1936) and a barn and smokehouse on his own property. (Lamont Inventory)

The surrounding landscape illustrates the preserved state of local heritage within the agricultural setting in association with the Ukrainian culture while in a regional context the building is a legacy of European craftsmanship brought from the old country to the newly established settlement in Central Alberta.

Character-Defining Elements
The Character Defining Elements are expressed in the form, massing and materials of “The Highland Hall of Barich” including:

• Fieldstone (pink, grey and white) walls 15 inches thick

• Stones outlined with white paint

• Low gable roof with wood shingles

• False front with cove drop wood siding

• Exposed rafters and purlins

• Plain wood trim on most windows and door

• Double hung windows with single hung mechanism and 6 over six panes

• Voussoirs over windows

• Large double entrance doors

• Stone on sides door opening

• Interior balcony over main entry

• Interior tongue and grove wood plank flooring

• Interior lattice on ticket booth and concession stand

• Interior tongue and groove wood ceiling slats

• Stage with prompters box

• Suspended log roller for stage curtain


Street Address: 18254 Township Road 602
Community: Smoky Lake, Near
Boundaries: Portion of SW 15-60-18-W4
Contributing Resources: Building

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
54.18081 -112.62537 GPS NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2010/04/15

Historical Information

Built: 1933 to 1933
Significant Date(s) 1933 to 1933
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Community Organizations
Historic Function(s): Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Current Function(s):

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0207
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Smoky Lake County 4612 McDougall Drive P.O. BOX 310 SMOKY LAKE AB T0A 3C0
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