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R.T. Barker Building

Fort Macleod

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The R. T. Barker Building is a two-storey commercial building situated on a single lot along Fort Macleod's historic main street. Erected in 1909, the building features a rusticated sandstone exterior and a storefront with a recessed entryway and transoms.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the R. T. Barker Building lies in its identity as a contributing resource to the heritage character of the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area.

Shortly after the North West Mounted Police established Fort Macleod on an island of the Oldman River in 1874, a community developed outside the fort. When the police relocated their quarters in 1884 to the south bank of the river west of the island, the settlement followed, and Fort Macleod became a commercial centre for the expanding cattle industry in the southern foothills. By 1892, the Calgary & Edmonton Railway had been extended to the community and Fort Macleod was large enough to be incorporated as the Town of Macleod.

Being the centre of an expanding ranching and farming industry, Macleod saw much activity in its downtown core. One of the early entrepreneurs to establish a business in the community was Richard Thomas Barker, who arrived from Buffalo, New York in 1882. Trained as a cabinet maker, Barker's first enterprise was a furniture store. In 1889, he expanded his business into a large general store, and in 1902, he reduced his product line to dry goods. Barker served on Macleod's first town council, and he was an active member of the Board of Trade for several years. Barker died in 1932.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Macleod's commercial area included a well developed main street complete with boardwalk. A fire in 1906, however, destroyed most of the street's wood frame buildings and resulted in the passage of a bylaw requiring future main street buildings to be constructed of brick or stone. The presence of several sandstone quarries in the Macleod area resulted in this material being particularly prominent in the re-construction of the community's downtown. Barker had a new building constructed of sandstone and brick in 1909, and from this location, he continued to operate his dry goods and clothing retail business. Although it has been altered, the R.T. Barker Building retains the robust, two-storey masonry construction and simplified Edwardian Classical Revival architectural style that was typical of buildings in commercial cores throughout Alberta towns in the first decades of the twentieth century. The building contributes to the heritage character of the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area, one of Alberta's premier historic districts.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2279)


Character-Defining Elements
Character-defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the R. T. Barker Building include:
- mass, form and symmetrical fenestration;
- two-storey sandstone façade with rock-faced blocks flanked by piers;
- raised parapet;
- carved lintels on second storey windows;
- sign band;
- transoms;
- recessed entry with large symmetrical store-front windows.


Location



Street Address: 232 - 24th Street
Community: Fort Macleod
Boundaries: East half of Lot 24, Block 432, Plan 92B
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
26
9
12
13

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
92B
432
24


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.725345 -113.407526 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2011/01/17

Historical Information

Built: 1909 to 1909
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: Shortly after the arrival of the North West Mounted Police at Fort Macleod in 1874, a community began to develop on the river flats outside the fort. The community proceeded to grow with the growth of the cattle industry in the southern foothills, and, with the extension of the Calgary & Edmonton Railway to the community in 1892, Fort Macleod was large enough to be incorporated as the Town of Macleod with over 200 people. Into the 20th century, it remained the largest community between Calgary and Lethbridge, with its population hovering around 500 during the early part of the century.

Being at the center of a large ranching and farming hinterland, Fort Macleod always saw much activity in its downtown core. One of the early entrepreneurs to establish a business there was R.T. Barker, who arrived in the community from Buffalo, New York in 1882 and set up a furniture store. He also described himself as a cabinet maker. He became prominent in local politics, serving on Macleod's first town council, and with the Board of Trade for several years.

Barker continued with his furniture business until 1889, when he expanded his enterprise into a large general store. In 1902, he confined his operation strictly to dry goods. Seven years later, he moved his business into a new sandstone block at 232-24th Street. His "dry goods, men's furnishings & shoes" business continued in operation until 1935, which was the probably year of his death, for his telephone number in the AGT Directory was then listed for Mrs. R.T. Barker. This is the same year in which the business number is discontinued. Mrs. Barker's number is listed until 1939. In the meantime, the old sandstone store building remained standing, probably serving as the premises of many small businesses in Macleod in the years that followed.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The historical significance of the R.T Barker building lies in its provision of structural evidence of an early 20th century commercial block in Macleod. The building is also important in its direct association with R.T. Barker, a prominent early businessman and local politician.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1361
Designation File: DES 2279
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
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. 2279)
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