Province protects historic Ukrainian hall
Smoky Lake-area residents gathered at the Ukrainian Farmers’ National Home of Taras Shevchenko to celebrate the designation of the historic community hall as a Provincial Historic Resource.
The hall was named for Shevchenko, a renowned Ukrainian poet, writer, artist and political figure whose works and life have been honoured by Ukrainians around the world.
“Our government is proud to designate the Ukrainian Farmers’ National Home of Taras Shevchenko as a Provincial Historic Resource, ensuring the stories of Ukrainian settlement in central Alberta continue to be shared today and for generations to come. Preservation of Alberta’s historic places helps strengthen pride in our past while creating new economic opportunities for the future through heritage tourism.”
The Ukrainian Farmer’s National Home of Taras Shevchenko is also known locally as the Highland Hall for its hilltop location. Designation follows the meticulous restoration of the hall, near Smoky Lake, an initiative spearheaded by the Highland Community Hall of Barich Society with support from the County of Smoky Lake and area residents.
“Designation of the Highland Hall as a Provincial Historic Resource is the culmination of a lot of heartfelt hard work by members of this community. We look forward to sharing this cherished landmark and the memories that have been made here with newcomers and visitors to our community long into the future.”
The architecturally significant hall was constructed in 1933 by early Ukrainian homesteaders at the rural crossroads community of Barich. Notably, it is a rare example of a masonry building featuring pink, grey and white fieldstone walls. The fieldstone construction reflects the skilled craftsmanship of local masons. The hall was an important community hub for social, cultural and political events, and also served as a library.
Properties designated as a Provincial Historic Resource are protected against demolition or inappropriate changes to the historic character of the property. Owners of designated historic resources are also eligible for conservation funding through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.
- Designation of the Ukrainian Farmers’ National Home of Taras Shevchenko brings the number of Provincial Historic Resources in Alberta to 378.
- Halls were often the last community structures built in Ukrainian-Albertan crossroads settlements after the post office, church and school, and reflect the growth and stability of Ukrainian settlements in Alberta after the First World War.
- Owners may wish to apply to have their property assessed for designation as Provincial Historic Resources. To qualify, historic places must normally be associated with a significant aspect of Alberta’s past and retain the physical site features necessary to convey this significance.
- The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation assists Alberta Culture and Tourism in promoting public awareness and enjoyment of Alberta’s heritage and is the Government of Alberta’s primary window for heritage preservation funding.