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Key Number: HS 20910
Site Name: Blairmore Courthouse
Other Names:
Site Type: 1304 - Governmental: Court House

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
7 4 5


Address: 13437 - 20 Avenue
Number: 37
Street: 134
Avenue: 20
Other:
Town: Crowsnest Pass - Blairmore
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Low Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Wall Design and Detail: Stepped Parapet
Roof Trim - Eaves: Rafters Exposed
Exterior: Stepped gables, decorative brick trim, exposed rafter ends.
Interior: N/A
Environment:
Condition:
Alterations: N/A

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Constructed
1923/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Courthouse
Provincial Office Building / Courthouse
1923/01/01
1979/01/01
Owner: Owner Date:
School Foundation of Nippon Institute of Technology

Architect: Richard Blakey
Builder: Watson Abercrombie
Craftsman: N/A
History: 1922 July and November - plans drawn.
Designed originally as a combination provincial police barracks and courthouse. The A.P.P was disbanded in the 1930s.
Contractors from Calgary awarded tender for courthouse.
1922 - city donated 6 lots for construction of courthouse and jail, cost $40,000.
* * *
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:
The Blairmore Courthouse is associated with various historical themes: settlement, transportation corridors, resource development, law and order, as well as provincal government services.
The Crowsnest Pass area sat undeveloped until the late 1890s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line through the mountain pass.
Blairmore was the first settlement in the area, at a siding created when the railway commenced its operations in 1898. On September 1, 1901, Blairmore was incorporated as a village. The Royal North Mounted Police arrived that same year.
The population of the Crowsnest Pass voted against prohibition on July 21, 1915 but it became the law on July 1, 1916. As a result, bootlegging became common in the Pass even though both the RNWMP and the Alberta Provincial Police attempted to control the liquor trade.
In 1922, the town donated six lots to the Alberta government upon which it built the courthouse and jail. Although the courthouse is not the oldest building in the area, it was the first provincial government building.
Built in 1923, this structure is a symbol of Blairmore's importance as a regional administrative centre in the Pass area. This was the first courthouse in Alberta to include both police and court facilities.
The policing facilities included a jail, barracks and offices for the APP.
The Blairmore Courthouse is a unique structure in an unusual Alberta community. Its primary historical significance relates to its use as a courthouse and by the APP and secondly to its role as the provincial administrative centre for the Crowsnest Pass.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:
The architectural merits of this buildign relate to various factors.
Designed by r.P. Blakey, an Alberta Department of Public Works architect, it was constructed in 1923 by the reputable Calgary firm of Abercrombie and Watson of Calgary, for $29,740. The Blairmore Courthouse resides on its original site and is a good example of provincial government buildings in the 1920s.
The style reflects Spanish-Colonial influences and is similar to teh raymond Home and the Bowness School. The Alberta Hospital-Ponoka and the Baker Sanatorium in Calgary also include some of the same architectural details. These include a low hip roof, stepped-arched parapets, stucco with decorative brick inlays and detailing, as well as projected aeaves with exposed rafter ends. Hollow brick tile and rough-cast stucco make up the walls and the building rests on a concrete basement. The overhanging roof, with hipped gables on the west, east and north sides make for an attractive building. The main facade is broken by distinctive parapets. Decorative brick trim and facing around the windows further highlight this building.
The Blairmore Courthouse is in good condition. It is a unique building in the area, an attractive and important landmark on the main street of Blairmore.
* * *
The Courthouse was constructed in 1923 and reflects the growing importance of Blairmore as a regional administration centre. Designed by Provincial Architect Richard P. Blakely, it was built by Messrs.
Watson and Abercrombie of Calgary, for the sum of $29,740.00. The Courthouse was also used as an Alberta Provincial Police barracks.
This building is a fine example of the architectural style used in the construction of several provincial government buildings during the period 1910 to 1930. The design was strongly influenced by the Spanish-Colonial style/fashion and employed such features as stepped-arched parapets, low hip roof, stucco with decorative brick inlays and detailing, and projected eaves with exposed rafter ends.
* * *
BLAIRMORE COURTHOUSE
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:
The Blairmore Courthouse is associated with various historical themes mentioned in the Master Plan for the Protection and Development of Prehistoric and Historic Resources within Alberta, an Alberta Culture planning document.
This site is relevant to the settlement theme, as it was part of the development of a European community in southwestern Alberta. It also fits in well into the transportation corridors theme since the railway through the Crowsnest Pass opened up this area for immigration. A related theme, resource development, is also related to this site as it was the exploding population and its requirement for law and order that encouraged the construction of this building. Finally, this courthouse is a major symbol of provincial government services in this unique Alberta resource community.
The Crowsnest Pass area sat undeveloped until the late 1890s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to build a line through the mountain pass in order to counteract American railways that were making inroads into southeastern British Columbia. The 1897 Crow's Nest Pass Agreement between the railway and the Laurier government included a subsidy for the railway. Completed in 1898, the new line brought people and business to the southwest corner of Alberta. By 1914, approximately 8000 people lived in the Pass area and Blairmore and Coleman became the largest communities.
Blairmore was the first settlement in the area, at a siding created when the railway opned in 1898. On September 1, 1901, Blairmore was incorporated as a village. The Royal North West Mounted Police arrived that same year and established the Blairmore detachment as part of the Fort Macleod jurisdiction.
Disaster frequented the Crowsnest Pass communities. The Frank Slide demolished part of the town of Frank on April 29, 1903. A fire in 1906 wiped out most of the buildings in one block along the Blairmore main street. The Bellevue mine explosion in 1910 killed thirty-one men and in 1914, the Hillcrest mine disaster took 189 lives in the worst such incident in Canadian history. All these incidents added to the national interest in the Pass.
On October 14, 1911, Blaimore was incorporated as a town. Town population of the Crowsnest Pass area voted against prohibition on July 21, 1915 but it became the law on July 1, 1916. As a result, bootlegging became common in the Pass even though both the RNWMP and the Alberta Provincial Police patrolled, attempting to suppress liquor violations.
In 1916, the RNWMP moved its sub-district moved from Pincher Creek to Blairmore. In March of that year, the Sifton government formed the Alberta Provincial Police and it took over policing duties in most of Alberta in 1917. However, the RNWMP continued its presence in the area since, due to wartime demand for coal, large amounts of explosives had to be protected in the Pass area.
In spite of the patrols by both police forces, bootlegging continued almost unabated. But the increasing violence associated with the activity created the demand for a courthouse. In 1922, the case of Emilio Picariello, a bootlegger, highlighted the need for law and order in the Pass. Gunbattles, the death of a policeman, two hangings and nation-wide headlines gave the case notoriety.
In 1920, Blairmore town council set a minimum value of $1,500 for any buildings erected in blocks 8 and 9 on Victoria Street, the main street. The next year, the town purchased a building on 8th street which it used as an office, jail, kitchen and fire hall.
In 1922, the town donated six lots to the Alberta government upon which it built the courthouse and jail. Although the courthouse is not the oldest building in the area, it was the first provincial government building.
Built in 1923, this structure is a symbol of Blairmore's increase in importance as a regional administrative centre in the Pass area. This was the first courthouse in Alberta to include both police and court facilities. The policing facilities included a jail, barracks and offices for the APP.
The violence of the 1920s spilled over into the 1930s in the form of strikes in the Crowsnest Pass coal fields. In February 1932, 1400 miners went on strike. Protests, strike breakers, riots and the ensuing tension all added to the need for law and order in the community.
When the Alberta government disbanded the APP in 1932, it converted the barracks into additional office space.
As of 1992, this buildign serves as the home of the Crowsnest Pass Ecomuseum Trust. The Blairmore Courthouse is a unique structure in an unusual Alberta community. Its primary historical significnace relates to its use by the APP and secondly to its role as the provincial administrative centre for the Crowsnest Pass.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:
The architectural merits of this building relate to various factors.
In 1920, the town passed law requiring all buildings along this part of the main street to be worth more than $1,500. It then donated six lots for the province to build the courthouse upon, thereby assuring that the provincial administrative centre for the area would come to the town.
Designed by R.P. Blakey, an Alberta Department of Public Works architec, the building fit well into the town's desire for significant structures. In January, 1923, the provincial government awarded the construction contract to Abercrombie and Watson, for a bid of $29,740.
This prominent company of building contractors was based in Calgary.
Partner William Abercrombie, from Scotland, was a superintendent for another Calgary construction firm until 1918 when he and Watson formed thier own buiding contracting company.
The Blairmore Courthouse building still resides on its original site and was built about the same time as others around it. It is a good example of the type of building developed by the provincial govenment in the second and third decade of the twentieth century.
The style reflects Spanish-Colonial influences and is similar to the Raymond Home and the Bowness School. The Alberta Hospital-Ponoka and the Baker Sanatorium in Calgary also include some of the same architectural details. These include a low hip roof, stepped-arched parapets, stucco with decorative brick inlays and detailing, as well as projected eaves with exposed rafter ends.
Hollow brick tile and rough-cast stucco make up the walls and the building rests on a concrete basement. The overhanging roof, with hipped gables on the west, east and north sides make for an attractive building. The main facade is broken by distinctive parapets.
Decorative brick trim and facing around the windows further highlight this building.
When the Alberta Provincial Police moved out of the courthouse in 1932, the provincial govenment renovated the barracks area into additional office space.
The Blairmore Courthouse is in good condition for its age. Repairs were made to the building in the late 1970s when pipes burst. It is a unique building in the Crowsnest Pass area, an attractive and important landmark on the main street of Blairmore.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
1976/09/16
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Rescinded
1993/05/21
2002/08/27
Register:
Record Information: Record Information Date:
WANG 1976/09/16

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0453
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