East Coulee museum honoured as first municipal heritage site
The East Coulee School Museum was presented with a plaque commemorating their status as Drumheller’s first municipal heritage site on Monday, simultaneously cementing their place as a significant historical resource for the region and opening the door for much needed funding.
“We’re really honoured to be chosen as the first one, for sure,” said museum manager Barb Steeves at the plaque presentation from the mayor, council, and board members of Drumheller’s Heritage Committee on August 8.
“It’s an important designation. In East Coulee, the school is the last building that shows how big the population was here. There’s remnants at the Atlas, but that was an industrial site that wasn’t in town.”
The East Coulee School Museum was built in 1930, with four more classrooms added in 1934. After a population boom in the 30s and 40s which saw the population of East Coulee reach 3,800, the Atlas Coal The East Coulee School Museum was presented with a commemorative plaque on Monday, August 8 to honour their distinction as Drumheller’s first municipally declared heritage site. At the presentation was heritage board members Ron Kenworthy, Mine closed in 1952 and the population dwindled until the 1970s, when the school closed. It was reopened as a museum in 1985 after a major restoration.
“As far as heritage goes, this building was built in the ‘arts and crafts’ style. In Alberta, there were only two schools built in that styling and the other one is gone, so this is the last remaining building,” said Steeves. She said that style includes touches to the exterior architecture like peaked roofs and high windows and ceilings.
As a declared municipal heritage site, the museum must retain features of the structure which are deemed to be “heritage,” and for the roof, this includes retaining metal coping around the edges and renovating a portion of the roof in a certain way. The oldest portion of the building, the original four-class piece near the entrance, features a roof with gradual slopes, which would have to be retained, but the remainder of the newer classrooms are built in the modern style.
“What you can visually see on the building has to remain heritage as much as possible,” says Steeves. “Hopefully this will open up some funding resources for them and knock down a few hurtles,” said Mayor Terry Yemen. “I know there’s a lot of work to be done here and part of it is to have this designation to be applicable for provincial grants.”
Committee member Tom Zariski said the committee was formed in 2014 and so far 50 sites in the valley have been identified as potentials for municipal heritage status. The age of the building, the original conditioning, its appearance, and largely a building’s exterior features are the criteria used.
“We wanted this one to be the very first as a kind of guinea pig because they were already in the mode of reconstruction and had a society behind it that was putting money into the building,” said Zariski.
He added that the next two buildings likely to receive heritage status are the old Central School and the Navy League building in Drumheller.
Don Brinkman, Mike Todor, councillor Sharel Shofi, Mayor Terry Yemen, the museum’s Barb Steeves, Dinosaur Valley Heritage Society’s Margaret Sparling, David Daly, and councillor Tom Zariski.