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Andreas Michelsen Farmstead


Other Names:
E. Michelsen
Michelsen Farmstead
Stirling Agricultural Village (Michelsen Barn & Granary)
Stirling Agricultural Village National Historic Site

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Andreas Michelsen Farmstead consists of a one-and-a-half storey farmhouse at the south end of the property; outbuildings including a barn, granary, calving shed, coal shed, machine shed, corrals and pens, and an outhouse; and landscape elements such as a dugout, cistern and filter, storage cellar, and plantings. It is located on the west half of four blocks in the northwest corner of the Village of Stirling.

Heritage Value
The historical significance of the Andreas Michelsen Farmstead lies in its excellent representation of a pre-1950 Mormon farmstead in southern Alberta.

Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) played a critical role in settling the arid grasslands of southern Alberta after 1887, bringing an expertise in irrigation and dry-land farming from Utah. The Michelsen family immigrated to Stirling from Denmark via Utah in 1900, and were among the earliest settlers in the area. In 1902, the family constructed a house (expanded in 1912) on a property that originally encompassed 2.5 acres, a typical lot size for a family homestead in Stirling's village plan.

The farmstead is one of the best remaining examples of a Mormon homestead and an integral element of the town grid plan that was adopted by several Mormon communities in southern Alberta. Based loosely on the "Plat of Zion" envisioned by Church founder Joseph Smith, the village plan sought to create closely-knit rural communities through clusters of residences facing the village streets, with parcels of farmland located outside the town boundaries. With its distinctive large lots and wide streets, this settlement pattern differs from the widespread practice of establishing isolated homesteads on quarter sections.

The Andreas Michelsen Farmstead is an important contributing element within the National Historic District of Stirling, which is considered to be the best surviving example of Mormon agricultural village in Canada.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1943)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Andreas Michelsen Farmstead include:

- one-and-a-half storey design on a square plan with truncated, slightly bell-cast pyramidal roof;
- cross gables on each elevation;
- open wrap-around verandah with low railing on south and east elevations;
- cedar shingles;
- exterior materials, including wooden drop siding;
- fenestration of double-hung, wood frame windows with decorative hood mouldings;
- extant historic interior elements and finishes, including lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings, fir flooring, baseboards and trim, and wood panel doors.

Farm buildings:
- exterior mass and form, particularly as conveyed through the gable roofs of the granary, coal shed, and outhouse, the shed roofs of the calving and machine sheds, and the gambrel roof of the barn;
- visible methods of construction, including frame construction of the barn, calving shed, and machine shed; and cribbed construction of granary
- building materials such as the cedar shingle roofs, exterior drop siding with corner board trim on the barn, shiplap exterior of the machine shed, and heavy plank flooring of the barn;
-fenestration pattern, notably that of the barn, with its simple four pane sash units and track doors on the front and end elevations, and of the windowless granary with its second floor door reached by a set of outside stairs;
-interior arrangement of buildings and the barn in particular, with its central aisle flanked by stalls and large, open loft.

Landscape elements such as:
- spatial configuration of the buildings and spaces within the site, including the transition from farmhouse yard to farmyard and corrals and, ultimately, to large open pasture on the north half of the property;
- varieties and location of vegetation, including cottonwood, maple, spruce and poplar trees;
- collapsed root cellar on north edge of property.


Street Address: 533 - 2 Avenue
Community: Stirling
Boundaries: Plan 752 J, Block 7, the west half of Lots 1-4 inclusive
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 7
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 4
Structures: 2

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.507497 -112.532153 Secondary source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2001/11/15

Historical Information

Built: 1912/01/01 To 1912/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Farm or Ranch
Current Function(s): Leisure : Historic or Interpretive Site

In 1887, Charles Ora Card led a group of Mormon settlers from Utah into the southern foothills of the District of Alberta and proceeded to found the Community of Cardston on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The years that followed saw many other Mormons settle in the region until, shortly after the turn of the century, the population south and west of Lethbridge was composed primarily of people of this religious faith. They undertook the first irrigation projects in the region and established the beginnings of the sugar beet industry.

Among the outlying communities formed by the Mormons was that of Stirling, twelve miles southeast of Lethbridge. Among the first residents here was Andreas and Kirsten Michelsen and their eight children. The Michelsens and their eldest daughter, Lena, had been born in Denmark and had migrated to Monroe, Utah in 1882. In 1900, Andreas scouted lands east of Cardston and decided that the region was well suited to the needs of his expanding family. Consequently, he brought his family to a place between Magrath and Cardston known as Pot Hole Coulee. For a time, the family lived in a tent, while Andreas undertook employment in railway and canal construction. Soon, however, the family moved to the outskirts of Stirling, which had just been incorporated as a village. Andreas and his elder sons then began to file for homesteads on lands south as well as north of the community. They undertook their farming collectively, utilizing their own threshing machine in the fall. The Michelsens also became active in the social and religious affairs in Stirling, undertaking extensive work for their church. Andreas served on village council in 1909 and during 1913 and 1914.

In 1902, the Michelsens constructed a dwelling which would become the first of some eight buildings to constitute the Michelsen Farmstead which remains today. The dwelling, expanded in 1912, provided a home for Andreas and Kirsten as well as those of their children who remained at home before homesteading or finding work elsewhere, or getting married. Today, the buildings constitute part of a number of vintage structures in Stirling, which was recognized in 1989 by Heritage Canada as being the best preserved example of a Mormon agricultural village in southern Alberta. To ensure that no further alteration is made to them, they have been purchased by the Village of Stirling.


The historical significance of the Michelsen Farmstead lies in its structural representation of an early Mormon settelement in southern Alberta. The buildings are also an important example of an early homestead in general, and as part of the early district of Stirling. It also provides structural evidence of the Michelsen family which remains a prominent element in the Stirling district and elsewhere in southwestern Alberta.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1051
Designation File: DES 1943
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 38810
HS 38811
HS 37323
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. 1943)
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