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Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area

Fort Macleod

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area is situated in the northwest area of the Town of Fort Macleod. Encompassing approximately three city blocks, including 23rd, 24th and 25 streets, and second and third avenues, the historic area is the commercial core of the community, and possesses numerous buildings constructed before 1914. Contributing resources of the historic area include the Fort Macleod Court House, the Union Bank Building, the Grier Block, the Queen's Hotel, the Renwick Building, the R.T. Barker Building and the AY Young Drug Store.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area lies in its representation of pre-World War I development as a community that rapidly expanded from the first permanent North West Mounted Police post established in the Northwest Territories into an important and vibrant service centre for an expanding regional ranching industry. The historic area is also significant for the Edwardian Classical Revival style that characterizes the town's historic commercial and public service area.

Fort Macleod, founded in 1874 with the arrival of the North West Mounted Police, began as an island fort on the Old Man River. Persistent spring flooding resulted in the 1884 relocation of the North West Mounted Police barracks to a site on the south bank of the river west of the island. The community of businesses and settlers that had formed outside the fort followed the police, and the new site proved suitable for development as a service centre for the police force and the expanding cattle industry in the southern foothills. By 1892 when the Calgary and Edmonton Railway reached the community, Fort Macleod had become large enough to be incorporated as the Town of Macleod.

Development of the town's centre continued until 1906 when a fire on Main Street destroyed most of the wood frame structures. Town Council then passed a bylaw requiring future buildings to be constructed of brick or stone, thus ensuring that the look of the entire commercial core would exude the permanence and solidity of the brick and sandstone structures predating the fire. Most of the materials used in the construction of the buildings lining the area's two main thoroughfares were constructed by skilled craftsmen using materials produced by local brickyards, lumber mills and stone quarries. Although the fire was a setback to the owners of the buildings lost, the optimism of civic leaders for the town's increasing regional prominence continued unabated, and by 1911, the Fort Macleod Board of Trade was promoting the town as the hub of southern Alberta.

The Edwardian Classical Revival style depicted in the historic area's commercial core, which had been developing since the turn of the century, came to an end in 1914 with the start of World War I, and by 1920, Fort Macleod had lost its place as the primary service centre for southern Alberta. Because town officials had borrowed extensively to provide Fort Macleod's citizens with services fitting a regional and growing service centre during the years of expansion, the accumulated debt forced the town to accept a low interest loan in 1924. This loan carried with it a caveat that the town could not borrow money for improvements or expansion for 50 years. Combined with the depressions of the 1920s and 1930s and World War II, this commitment effectively stopped new construction and development in the town. The Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area therefore reveals the commercial core of a southern Alberta town with visions of permanence and prosperity at the turn of the twentieth century.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (Des. 1138)

Character-Defining Elements
Character-defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Fort Macleod Provincial Historic Area include:
-typical grid layout and street plan of prairie towns;
-Edwardian Classical Revival style of intact streetscape;
-consistent scale of building height, being either two or three storeys;
-masonry construction featuring extensive use of locally quarried rough-faced sandstone;
-general design of commercial buildings, including cornices, sign bands, dense and full facades with no setbacks from sidewalk, recessed entrances, and clerestory windows.


Street Address: N/A
Community: Fort Macleod
Boundaries: Encompasses approximately 6 blocks of Fort Macleod's commercial core situated between Highway 3 on the west and part of 4 Avenue on the east, and between 25th Street on the north and part of 21st Street on the south
Contributing Resources: Collection

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.725451 -113.407931 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Area
Date of Designation: 1984/05/09

Historical Information

Built: N/A
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):
Context: N/A

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1362
Designation File: DES 1138 (General Information)
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: N/A
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8
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