Fort Saskatchewan Historic Buildings


Conservation Plans

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Conservation Plans were prepared for a number of Fort Saskatchewan Historic Buildings.


The heritage value of the former courthouse, now the Fort Saskatchewan Museum, lies in its association with the establishment of legal institutions in the province and in its subdued Edwardian Classical Revival architecture. 

The building provides a structural reminder of the city’s long tradition of administering law and justice. This heritage began with the North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.), which built a post at Fort Saskatchewan in 1875 – the first in Northern Alberta – and established the force’s “G” Division headquarters here following the North West Rebellion in 1885. The policing and judicial facilities at the N.W.M.P. post served a growing population through the end of the nineteenth century, with the growth of settlement in the area during the 1880s and 1890s helping to develop Fort Saskatchewan into a local distribution centre.

The arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway (C.Nor.R.) in 1905, the creation of the Province of Alberta, and the continued influx of settlers suggested the need to replace the N.W.M.P. court facilities with a more spacious, more suitable space for the adjudication of regional and local cases. The Fort Saskatchewan Museum was originally a courthouse, constructed in 1909 as part of the government’s ambitious program to develop the administrative and legal infrastructure of Alberta shortly after the province’s creation.

The courthouse originally heard both the criminal proceedings of prisoners from the Provincial Gaol built in the town in the mid-1910s and the disputes and issues of the local citizenry. The main floor also served as a residence for a member of the Alberta Provincial Police. In later years, local cases began to be heard in the Town Hall and the Fire Hall. By the 1960s, a newly renovated Town Hall had become the venue for all court cases in the town and the courthouse served strictly as a residence for the Bursar of the Provincial Gaol. Since the early 1970s, the building has been used as a historical site and museum.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 566)

Canadian Northern Train Station

The heritage value of the Canadian Northern Railway Station lies in its association with the early twentieth-century development of Fort Saskatchewan, its fine representation of a standard third class railway station, and its value as an icon of the central role of railways in opening the province to settlement and agriculture.

Fort Saskatchewan is one of Alberta’s oldest Euro-Canadian communities, founded in 1875 as a North-West Mounted Police post. Although the growth of settlement in the area in the 1880s and 1890s helped to establish Fort Saskatchewan as a local distribution centre, further expansion was hampered by the lack of railway service. In 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway extended its line west through Fort Saskatchewan and on to Edmonton. The large scale of the railway station constructed at the time embodied the optimistic appraisals of the community’s future. Built near the centre of town and amidst several grain elevators and a stockyard, the station served as a transportation hub for a rich farming district. The Canadian Northern Railway Station continued to serve Fort Saskatchewan until the late 1980s, when declining rail traffic warranted its closure.

The Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan is a standard third class station. Like other railway companies, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) employed a series of standard plans for its stations. At Fort Saskatchewan, the railway company opted for a plan 100-19 station. Introduced in 1904, plan 100-19 was a “special station” design employed at only the most significant points along the line. Considerably longer than other third class stations, plan 100-19 stations were distinguished by an exterior design that featured hip roofs on either end of the building and a spacious interior that included a vestibule, kitchen, living room, large general waiting room, separate ladies’ waiting room, office and a small freight shed. This station is the only extant example of a railway facility constructed according to CNoR plan 100-19 in Alberta. In 1911, an addition was built on the building’s west side, a reflection of the growth of population and rail traffic in Fort Saskatchewan.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1544)

Castle School

The Castle School is a relocated historic resource. It is situated in the Fort Saskatchewan Heritage Precinct on the grounds of the former jail and adjacent to the historic MHR Warden’s Residence.

Three miles north of Josephburg and about one half mile south of the present Highway 15, there still exists a one-mile section of the old Victoria Trail. It was on the eastern half of this piece of road, on the north side, that the Castle School was built, either in 1901, or more likely in 1902. “The Castle Public School District #571 of the North West Territories” was proclaimed on November 6, 1900 and on October 10, 1902 the trustees were empowered to borrow $300 to finish and furnish the schoolhouse.

An advertisement for a teacher appeared in the Edmonton Bulletin for November 24, 1902. The school remained on this site until 1916 or possibly 1917 when it was moved about a mile north and west, across the present Highway 15.

Sometime after the centralization of the schools, Castle School was moved to the farm of Redge Fluker where it was transformed into a residence. Redge Fluker died at the end of January 1972. The property was sold and during the summer of 1972 the Castle School was brought to Fort Saskatchewan for restoration and preservation.

Soda Lake Church

The Soda Lake Church is a relocated historic resource. It is situated in the Fort Saskatchewan Heritage Precinct on the grounds of the former jail and adjacent to the historic MHR Warden’s Residence.

In 1911, Mr. A.M. Boutillier donated one and one-half acres of his farmland for the site of an Anglican Church and cemetery. The foundation stones were laid on August 23, 1911. Construction took several years due to lack of money within the congregation. The nave of the Church is squared log construction clad in wood siding both inside and outside. The chancel and rear porch are from frame construction. Copies of the Halifax Chronicle and the Vegreville Observer and a few coins were placed under the first log and were found when the church was moved to this site in 1976. The Church was named after Holy Trinity Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was consecrated by Bishop H.L. Grey in 1915. Services were conducted by the Anglican Minister from Vegreville. In the mid-1950s the congregation began to decline and the last regular service was held on July 2, 1973. In May 1975, the stained glass window was stolen  and a few days later more articles were taken. Such acts of vandalism caused deep concern about the future of the Church and it was decided to move it to the Fort Saskatchewan Museum. The Church was moved in November 1976. It was then restored and the stained glass window replaced with a replica. A prayer, handwritten by Mr. Boutillier on the blackboard at the back of the Church, for the children of a long-ago Sunday School class, has been preserved and protected by glass. This beautiful little rural church remains as a tribute to the faith, integrity and persistence of our pioneers.

Warden’s House

The Warden’s House and Yard is significant for its direct association with the operations of the former Provincial Gaol complex that was located in downtown Fort Saskatchewan from 1914 to 1988, a major institution and employer in the community. The building was the official residence of the Warden from 1937 to 1973, and has associations with the Theme of Law Enforcement. The building also has significance as the official residence of the Warden of the former Provincial Gaol institution. Law enforcement activities have been a central theme and institutional component of Fort Saskatchewan since the establishment of the original Fort Saskatchewan in 1875. The residence was constructed just off the actual grounds of the Gaol complex, allowing convenient access for the Warden, but also symbolically being located in the community itself, and not within the prison grounds. This was an attempt to create as normal a living circumstance for the Warden and his family, recognizing the dual roles of a law enforcement supervisor and a husband/father.

The grand nature of the residence and elements such as the curved driveway also denote a level of importance to the position of Warden of such a major provincial facility. The Warden’s House and Yard is also significant for its English cottage-style design influences, a revival style of construction that was popular in Alberta in the 1930s, and typically included the use of stucco materials, gables, and bellcast rooflines. It is a somewhat rare and grand example of the type remaining in Fort Saskatchewan. Finally, the building has direct and significant association with a landmark in the Fort Saskatchewan community – the site of the former Provincial Gaol, just west of the downtown area. The building is located immediately adjacent to the former Gaol site, and was the official residence of the Gaol’s Warden. The building also possesses significance through its own symbolic value, representing the official aspects of law enforcement in the community.

Kulak House

The Kulak House is a relocated historic resource. It is situated in the Fort Saskatchewan Heritage Precinct on the grounds of the former jail and adjacent to the historic MHR Warden’s Residence.

The Kulak House is a fine example of a simple pioneer log house, not uncommon for new immigrants on their homestead land. The original location of the Kulak House was on a quarter section homestead in the Josephburg district that Ludwig and Elizabeth Kulak tried to farm between 1980 and 1893. They moved to Winnipeg in 1893 and returned to purchase the same quarter in 1899. In 1905, Ludwig started to build a new log home and work progressed slowly. They moved in in 1907. The house remained in use until 1969 when it was moved to the Fort Saskatchewan town yards. In 1972 it was moved to its present location.

The Kulak House uses traditional squared log construction for the lower floor and frame construction for the upper floor and the roof. The logs came partly from the home quarter. The frame lumber was purchased from the Hunter Lumber Company in Fort Saskatchewan. The lowest logs were originally laid on 10 boulders. The exterior of the logs was eventually covered with drop siding. Peat moss insulation was placed between the logs and the siding. After the House was moved to Fort Saskatchewan, the lower siding was removed to expose the logs.  There has been some restoration of the logs over the years. A new concrete foundation was construction for the move to the FS Heritage Precinct. Ludwig Kulak emigrated to Canada in 1890 from the Brigidau, Galicia in the old Austrian Empire. That year he married Elizabeth Unterschutz in the Lutheran Church in Winnipeg.  They raised 9 children.

Dr. Henry Residence

The Dr. Henry Residence is a relocated historic resource. It is situated in the Fort Saskatchewan Heritage Precinct on the grounds of the former jail and adjacent to the historic MHR Warden’s Residence.

The Dr. Henry Residence was constructed in 1914 by W.J. Foster and was purchased by Dr. Henry in April 1913. The original house had an open front porch with a second floor. It was located on Main Street in downtown Fort Saskatchewan until it was acquired by the Fort Saskatchewan Museum in 1990. Over the next 3 years, volunteers removed panel boards off most of the walls, tore out all the carpeting, and steamed and scraped off numerous layers of wallpaper throughout the house.  The walls were then painted, some were repapered with 1920s-pattern wallpaper, the floors were lightly sanded and sealed with a preservative, and a new set of French doors were put in the parlour as one set was missing. The Historical Society could not afford to recreate the original basement at the time, which has contained a large octopus-arm coal-burning furnace.  There was also a large space for Dr. Henry to park his car in the basement.  A small building, similar to a wood shed, located behind the house, opened to reveal a driveway that led into the basement.  Dr. Henry did this so his car was readily available for emergencies during the winter months.  The original basement walls are reportedly to have been constructed from brick. This appearance has been recreated in the new location using a unique stucco technique.

As a prominent family physician, Dr. Henry was an important citizen in the historical development of Fort Saskatchewan. He has left a large impact on the community with a senior’s residence named after him. This Residence is significant in part because of the prominence of Dr. Henry.