Table of contents

Awards recipients

The outstanding efforts of Alberta’s 'heritage heroes' and the work of local organizations to preserve the province’s rich history were recognized on October 26, 2018.

2018 award recipients

Outstanding Achievement Award

This award goes to an individual who has made exceptional and long-term contributions to the preservation and presentation of Alberta’s history. These contributions must go beyond those accomplished as part of paid employment, and have been sustained for at least ten years.

Carl William (Bill) Marquardt

'Bill the Blacksmith' as many locals and tourists have come to know him over the years, has spent the last 40 years helping the Lacombe & District Historical Society in its mission to protect, preserve and interpret the rich history of the region.

Over the past 40 years, Bill has been involved with many projects in the community including:

  • Conserving the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop – the oldest operating blacksmith shop in Alberta.
  • Teaching heritage blacksmithing to new generations of volunteers
  • Leading public and school tours of the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop
  • Developing thousands of negatives for the community archives
  • Identifying people and events in photographs for the community archives
  • Assisting with woodworking projects, maintenance and repairs at the Museums

Bill has made an outstanding contribution towards raising the awareness, documenting and preserving the history of the greater Lacombe region through his many volunteer efforts in the community.

Sheila Willis

Sheila began her quest to share northern Alberta history with children in classrooms and then as a member of the Smith Community Development Council. Her focus has always been to combine tourism and history to encourage others to come north of Edmonton including Smith. Of significant note, Sheila catalogued 100 sights of local history for Alberta’s first ever Geo Tour for the Smith Centennial in 2014, discovered artifacts and provided them to the Royal Alberta Museum and the Glenbow Archives, founded the Friends of Historical Northern Alberta Society and is their volunteer Executive Director. It is through this organization that Sheila spearheaded the development and marketing of the History Check Mobile App to launch in less than 1000 days with 300+ communities recognized and 1500 sites published and counting.

Don Gillespie

In 1990, when Central Western Railway announced its intention to sell its passenger operation, Don Gillespie, a grocer in Stettler, saw an opportunity to support his local community. Drawing together a number of heritage organizations, work began to preserve not only the last original rail laid after the turn of the twentieth century in Alberta; but historic steam locomotives, unique passenger cars, heritage rail stations and prairie elevators. Through his passion, thousands have been immersed in the reality and myths of prairie life from the early-to-mid 1900s.

Preservations efforts include:

  • last original rail laid in Alberta, still connected to the mainline
  • historic Baldwin-built 1920 steam locomotive, #41
  • steam locomotive #6060
  • heritage coaches: Lacombe, Tracy, and Sutton, and Montreal commuter cars #6603, #6744 and #6741
  • the railway roundhouse at Big Valley
  • numerous elevators
  • heritage railway stations at Big Valley, Stettler and Meeting Creek in collaboration with the Canadian Northern Society
  • creation of interpretation signs for different locations along the line and in the village of Big Valley with the Canadian Northern Society.

Heritage Conservation Award

This award is presented to a project completed within the last three years that demonstrates 1) sustained commitment and contribution to the conservation of a historic place, or 2) excellence in the conservation and interpretation of palaeontological and archaeological resources.

Rehabilitation of Tipton Investment Company Building
Beljan Development Ltd.

The Tipton Investment Company Building is highly significant as a contributing element to the Old Strathcona Provincial Historic Area, long valued as one of Alberta’s foremost historic districts due to its architectural richness and heritage integrity. Built no later than 1907, the building contributes significantly to the overall heritage value of the historic area. It is an excellent example of the type of modest, wood-frame commercial building that dominated the White Avenue streetscape during the early stages of Strathcona’s development. It is one of only two remaining structures that retain the simple, wood-frame storefronts in the historic commercial core.  It is an essential contributing element of the Old Strathcona Provincial Historic Area, reflecting the early twentieth-century development of one of Alberta’s most significant urban centres.

Restoration of Highland Hall
Highland Community Hall of Barich Society

The Ukrainian Farmers’ National Home of Taras Shevchenko, known locally as the Highland Community Hall, was built in Barich near Smoky Lake by the men and women of the area using their own design, material, tools, hard work, ingenuity and community spirit. The hall is a significant landmark and highly popular because of its unique construction of local fieldstones.

The heritage value of the Highland Hall resides in it association with the Ukrainian cultural practice, and its ability to convey the legacy of Eastern European/Canadian Ukrainian construction.

Many Ukrainian farming families still live in the area, and maintain Ukrainian traditions. They expressed a desire to bring back the cultural spirit of the hall in Barich.  Almost 75 years after the building was first constructed, a new society was formed to restore the building with its quaint style and to hold celebratory festivities and present cultural exhibits and events.

Through government grants, donations, volunteer labour, passion and sheer dedication the Society completed the restoration of Highland Hall.

Heritage Awareness Award

This award recognizes research, publications, or public engagement projects completed within the last three years that have significantly contributed to an understanding and awareness of Alberta’s heritage.

Youth Workshops for Canada 150: 'In Search of My Family’s Past'
Alberta Genealogical Society

In 2017, the Alberta Genealogical Society was able to access funding from Alberta Canada 150, Community Initiatives Program through Alberta Culture and Status of Women for a project entitled: Youth Workshops for Canada 150: In Search of My Family’s Past.

The initial goal was to reach 150 Alberta youth through their ten branches. The youth genealogy project was an overwhelming success. 424 certificates were issued to youth for completing a family history project in 2017. The students who completed the project had such interesting stories about their family’s past that the Society decided to feature their work in their 2018 journal Relatively Speaking. Not only were there enough articles and pictures to fill the February 2018 issues, there were enough to fill the May 2018 issues as well and a new section titled 'Youth Write On' will now be a regular feature in issues of Relatively Speaking.

The project has been instrumental in creating a greater awareness and understanding of the importance of family heritage in a large number of Alberta young people.

Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots Oral History Project
Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots

The project was a 17-month long oral history project run by the SCMR. The initiative was a research and community engagement project designed to document the historical and contemporary experiences of Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s black settlers who moved to the Prairies between 1905 and 1912 to escape slavery, racism and intense persecution in the United States.

The oral histories were conducted with second and third generation individuals from the families of the original settlers. The outputs include a documentary film and an archival collection and preserved a remarkable part of Alberta’s and Canada’s history. The success of this project has led to an increased awareness of the significant contributions Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s black settlers and their descendants have made to the development of Western Canada over the past 100 years. The documentary can be viewed online at:

Indigenous Heritage Award

Awarded to projects that demonstrate excellence in identifying, protecting and promoting Alberta’s rich Indigenous heritage through research, publication and/or collaboration or public engagement with Indigenous individuals or communities.

Tipi Teachings
Mellissa Reis

In collaboration with the Wild Rose School Division, Ms. Reis, an Interpretation Officer at Parks Canada, developed a three-day Culture Camp with Tipi Teachings offered by local First Nations and Métis Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Ms. Reis reached out to the local Indigenous community and organized teachings that included the following:

  • a medicine walk which helped students to identify plants used for good and medicine
  • the significance and setup of the tipi: what each pole of the tipi meant and why it was typically a woman’s job
  • the sweat lodge: its importance and use
  • the seven teachings: what each teaching involved and hit it can be used in our daily lives
  • drumming: the importance of the roles and why men were typically the ones to drum
  • dance and regalia: why and when certain dances were performed and the regalia that was involved
  • Métis jigging: the origins of Métis jigging as well as learning some steps
  • Métis fur trade: explaining the partnerships between the Hudson Bay and North-West Fur Trading Companies.

Each camp ended with a Round Dance that included all presenters and participants alike.

The Michel Band Exhibition
Friends of Michel Society, Council of the Michel First Nation and Musée Heritage Museum

In 1878, Chief Michel and two Headmen signed an adhesion to Treaty 6.  In 1880, The Michel Callihoo Reserve was created approximately 29 km northwest of Edmonton. After many years of pressure from government agents, the reserve was broken up. The Band still seeks to regain formal recognition of their status. Few people in the Edmonton area, or the province, have any idea that this reserve ever existed or that it was the only instance in Canadian history where the members (all but four) of an entire reserve lost both land and status is 1958.

The project brought together the Friends of the Michael Society and Council of the Michel First Nation and the Musée Heritage Museum as partners to research and share the little known and unique history of the Michel Band.  The stated goals of the partnership are the following:

  • develop new avenues of research related to the Michel Band
  • provide a space for the Michel Band to tell their story
  • create an exhibition to be hosted at the museum
  • host events and build programming related to the exhibition
  • share the story beyond the in house exhibition dates

The exhibition exceeded expectations with more than 7300 museum visitors.

City of Lethbridge and Blackfoot Confederacy Traditional Knowledge and Use Assessment
The Blackfoot Confederacy Nations of Alberta, Arrow Archaeology, City of Lethbridge

The TKUA project is a unique collaborative effort between the Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika First Nations and the City of Lethbridge, which contributes to expanding the definition and understanding of heritage in Lethbridge. The work of this collaboration in itself helped to build new relationships in the spirit of reconciliation.

The project assessed a number of publically accessible lands within the City of Lethbridge city limits. Extant traditional knowledge and resources were identified, assessed and recorded. The report summarized an extensive historical overview undertaken by the Nations, including the collection and ground-truthing of traditional knowledge from each Nation. Further it provides considerations that will help preserve Indigenous culture and help educate and inform citizens of Lethbridge and visitors about those cultures and their history.

The project reflects a desire to respect, protect and celebrate the rich Indigenous history within the lands upon which the City of Lethbridge is located, as part of working together toward reconciliation. The work was undertaken as part of the City’s South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) Compliance Initiative, in keeping with the SSRP’s expressed desire for enhanced consideration of, and protection for, shared cultural heritage.

Red Deer Industrial School Commemorations
Remembering the Children Society

The residential school system is one of the darkest chapters of Canadian history. Residential schools operated in Canada through arrangements between the Government of Canada and the churches, and resulted in thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children being taken from their homes and families so they could be stripped of their identity, language and heritage and assimilated into the dominant Canadian culture.

Preserving and promoting Alberta’s heritage sometimes means confronting, interpreting and commemorating the darker chapters of our past, like the residential school system.  Properly and respectfully commemorating a residential school site or former students who have passed away is a difficult and sensitive task.

Through thousands of hours of research, planning and open collaboration with First Nations, family members of former students and churches, the Remembering the Children Society has begun to lead the way in establishing proper process and practices for respective and meaningful residential school commemoration.

Youth Heritage Award

The award recognizes the volunteer contributions of students to the preservation and presentation of Alberta’s heritage. The award is presented to a student or group of students who have made outstanding contributions to the heritage field at any point in the course of their studies between elementary and high school. Their contributions must extend beyond the responsibilities of any paid employment.

Jordan Born

Jordan Born has been volunteering at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village since he was 14 years old.  He was recruited to capture images of volunteers and activities at special events and is now a prominent volunteer on site. Popular with both staff members and his fellow volunteers. Jordan consistently shows enthusiasm and willingness during his volunteer shifts, demonstrating a growing self-confidence and continually enhancing his abilities.

Jordan takes the initiative and goes out of his way to acquire the volunteer photographs that are needed, working creatively to secure additional materials that can be added to the sites image bank. The result is an extensive collection that helps the UCHV keep history alive, allowing the village to source and recruit volunteers – an integral part in the daily operation of this living history museum. Jordan has demonstrated his willingness to help in other areas and always enthusiastically lends a hand with event day activities.


Connect with the Program Coordinator:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-431-2305
Toll free: dial 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: Program Coordinator

Heritage Awards Program
Old St. Stephen’s College Building
8820 112 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6G 2P8

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