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Blairmore Courthouse

Crowsnest Pass - Blairmore

Other Names:
Courthouse (Old)
Old Courthouse

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Blairmore Courthouse is a two-storey stucco/masonry, clay tile and wood frame structure, in a Spanish-Colonial Revival style. It occupies four and one-half lots at the eastern end of the main thoroughfare in Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass.

Heritage Value
The Blairmore Courthouse's heritage value lies in its representation of Blairmore's status as a regional administrative centre in the Crowsnest Pass, and as the first courthouse in Alberta to include both police and court facilities. It is also a good example of a style (Spanish-Colonial Revival) of public building constructed by the province in the first third of the twentieth century.

With problems ranging from train robberies to labour confrontations, and especially bootlegging and smuggling after the introduction of Prohibition in 1917, there was an acute need for policing in the Crownest Pass. The Blairmore Courthouse was commissioned in 1922 as part of the effort to maintain law and order in the region's mining communities. When it opened in 1923, it was the first courthouse in Alberta to include both courthouse and police facilities (including offices and barracks for the Alberta Provincial Police and male/female holding cells). This centralization of the judiciary and police force came to symbolize the concerted effort to stem bootlegging activities and Blairmore's role as the regional administration centre of the Pass. Although the courthouse is not the oldest building in the area, it was the first provincial government building in a unique and historical area.

It is also an excellent example of a style of public building constructed in the province in the 1920s and 1930s. Designed by R.P. Blakey, of the Department of Public Works, the Spanish-Colonial Revival Style borrowed features from missions in the American southwest.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 149)


Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Blairmore Courthouse reside in elements of the Spanish-Colonial Revival Style, such as:
- form, scale and massing;
- stucco covered masonry facade with decorative brick inlays, hollow brick tile and detailing;
- low hipped roof with curved gables and projected eaves with exposed rafter ends
-stepped-arched parapets;
- the rough surface bricks;
- fenestration pattern of double-hung wood windows and horizontal banding;
- the stature and image that is becoming of building that provides law and order;
- the site presently allows for unimpeded views of all four elevations;
- the asphalt driveway and existing trees, foliage.

Original remaining elements and fittings of the interior of the Blairmore Courthouse such as:
- the existing floor plan layout;
- the staircase;
- the courtroom;
- the interior trim and doors.


Location



Street Address: 13427 - 20 Avenue
Community: Crowsnest Pass - Blairmore
Boundaries: Portion of Lot 6 and Lots 7 to 10, Block 8, Plan 3319I
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5
4
7
35
9 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
3319 I
3319 I
3319 I
3319 I
8
8
8
8
8
7
6
10





Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.607367 -114.431457 Secondary Source NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5498143 685554 Digital Maps NAD 83

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1993/05/21

Historical Information

Built: 1923/01/01 To 1923/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Governing Canada : Security and Law
Historic Function(s): Government : Courthouse and/or Registry Office
Government : Police Station
Current Function(s): Education : Special or Training School
Architect: R.P. Blakey
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Crowsnest Pass area of the province has been the venue for some of the most dramatic incidents in the history of Alberta. The Frank Slide and Hillcrest Mine disasters brought the area world-wide attention. But perhaps a greater amount of notoriety was established with the introduction of Prohibition in 1916. The Crowsnest Pass, with its large population of young single males, was the site of a a bootlegging bonanza and policing activity was brisk. The Courthouse became the center of investigation and policing for these events, as well as train robberies, coal mining labour confrontations, and shoot-outs. Intended initially as a jail, barracks and offices for the local Provincial Police detachment, it was found necessary to incorporate courtroom facilities in the west section of the building due to an increasing number of bootlegging violations. Housing variously the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Alberta Provincial Police, the Blairmore Courthouse was built to accommodate the increased demand for policing facilities in southwestern Alberta and provided more courtroom office space when the Alberta Provincial Police force was disbanded in 1932.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0453
Designation File: DES 0149
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 20910
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 149)
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