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Alberta Provincial Police Building

Crowsnest Pass - Coleman

Other Names:
Alberta Provincial Police Barracks
APP Barracks

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Provincial Police Building is a small, rectangular one-storey wood frame residential bungalow style building situated on one urban lot on 18th Avenue in Coleman.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Alberta Provincial Police Building lies in the role that it played in the maintenance of law and order in the mining communities of the Crowsnest Pass from 1918 until the 1930s.

The International Coal and Coke Company established the town of Coleman in 1903 following the destruction of the town of Frank by a rockslide. Built the next year, this building was occupied by a series of law enforcement agencies: the North West Mounted Police, briefly, in 1904 (as there was already a detachment in Blairmore); a police officer hired for Coleman in 1910; and two constables of the Alberta Provincial Police Force (APP), who arrived in 1918. They shared the facility with town police until 1932, when the APP was disbanded and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police again assumed police duties in the Crowsnest Pass. It is one of the few APP buildings to survive and provides structural evidence of Alberta's attempt to undertaking its own policing.

The building was also the site of one of the most noteworthy crimes committed in Alberta. The APP was primarily concerned with labour unrest and the trade in illicit liquor that became widespread after prohibition in 1917. After APP Corporal Stephen Lawson was shot and killed in front of this building on September 21, 1922, a bootlegger named Emilio Picariello and his accomplice Florence Lassandro were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death by hanging. Lassandro thus became the first woman to be executed in Canada since 1899 and the only woman to be hanged in Alberta.

The building consists of two folk cottage style residences, joined together. It is typical of miners' houses built by the International Coal and Coke Company. Surrounded by other period residences its architecture represents life in an early mining town.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1974)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Alberta Provincial Police Building include:

- form, scale and massing;
- wood frame construction;
- medium hip roof;
- two brick chimneys decorated with corbelled brickwork;
- horizontal drop wood siding with corner board trim;
- double-hung window fenestration pattern.

- floor plan layout;
- fir tongue and groove flooring;
- tongue and groove wainscoting in front office area;
- baseboards, door and window trim;
- metal flue tie ins, evidence of cast iron stoves;
- tongue and groove walls and original ceiling material;
- plaster and fiber board wall and ceiling finishes.


Street Address: 7809 - 18 Avenue
Community: Crowsnest Pass - Coleman
Boundaries: Lot 3, Block 18, Plan 820L
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
9 (ptn.)

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.634922 -114.501416 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
550134 680408 Digital Map NAD 83


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2002/02/15

Historical Information

Built: 1904 to 1904
Significant Date(s) 1922 to 1922
Theme(s) Governing Canada : Security and Law
Historic Function(s): Government : Police Station
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s):

While it is clear that this building was constructed in 1904, research completed to date has not cleared up all the mystery surrounding its early days. One account suggests it was built by the International Coal and Coke Company as one of the many miners' cottages the company built for use by its employees. Another account claims it was built specifically for its first tenant, the Royal North West Mounted Police, and that the building only resembles a miner's cottage.

Whatever the details of its construction, the building was home to the R.N.W.M.P. until the Alberta Provincial Police took over policing duties in 1917, when it became theirs. The building is notorious as the location of the 1922 shooting of Constable Steve Lawson. Two people were hanged for the murder.


The building has interesting architectural details as well. It features post on beam construction, wood framing, and corbelled chimneys. The original siding still survives under the more modern cladding. These features, the early date of construction, and the building's association with the law in the Crowsnest Pass give it unusual historical significance.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0944
Designation File: DES 1974
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 28694
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. 1974)
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