BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Lacombe Historical Society, in addition to City programs and citizen efforts, all play an important role in the identity of Lacombe.
The Historical Society, Heritage Resources Committee, City council and countless volunteers have helped to shape the image of Lacombe as one that genuinely appreciates and values heritage. Recently, the City was even recognized by the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS) for the municipality’s collective efforts in promoting and restoring heritage pieces.
This recognition lends support and encouragement to ongoing efforts made within the community to ensure Lacombe’s historical identity and to share that information with future generations.
“It’s really a bit of an honour to see that the work we’re doing in Lacombe in preserving our heritage has been recognized by a national organization – not just for our historical efforts, but for the ongoing programs and efforts we are making,” said Marie Péron, executive director of both the Lacombe & District Historical Society and Lacombe Regional Tourism.
As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary of confederation this year, citizens of Lacombe are invited to take part in creating a snapshot in time of the community as it stands in 2017.
Through partnerships between the Historical Society, the Heritage Resources Committee and Lacombe Regional Tourism, a variety of programs will be introduced throughout the year to commemorate Lacombe’s history in the making.
“One of the things the Canada 150 initiative is trying to achieve is a snapshot of what our communities look like at this point in time for future reference,” Péron explained.
“At the Historical Society, we’re always digging through the archives to see what our community used to look like, and it’ll be helpful 50 or 100 years down the line to see what our community looks like right now, and to compare those snapshots to layer that history.”
Thanks to a recent $12,000 funding allocation from the Red Deer Community Foundation, the Historical Society will be working alongside other community groups to celebrate the themes of Canada 150 – diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with Indigenous communities, celebrating youth and environment.
One of the programs hosted this year is titled ‘Portraits of Lacombe’.
Péron said this program will be similar to the idea of Art in the Garden in that people will be invited to drop by the Michener House Museum, where free supplies will await them to be used in painting portraits of the citizens of the City.
“Through this, we want to get people to paint portraits of themselves so we can see the faces of our community through this year. We’re fortunate to have opportunities to showcase that art around the community, too. We’re going to run the program throughout the summer and then do a big show in the fall,” Péron said.
“People will be able to show off their different artistic styles, and we can see how the community views themselves.”
Another program that will be encouraged in the community is getting people to take photos of their homes this year, so that they can be added to archives for future generations to enjoy.
Péron said this is a fun opportunity to build upon the layers of history previous generations have laid, and will allow a firm documentation of how the community stands at this point in time.
She said there will be more programs to be rolled out through the year, and that community organizations are encouraged to think of their own ways to commemorate this special year in history.
With the planned start of the Main Street Project, the City will also be undergoing a large infrastructure program for the downtown core. This project will be ongoing through the summer months, so activities will likely take place in various locations of the City to be accessible.
“With the improvements, I think it will only benefit the downtown and enhance what we have available for historic buildings. It will be much more enjoyable to walk around downtown, there will be better parking and it’ll be more accessible,” Péron said.
Within tourism, communities must market their best assets to help carve a niche that drives traffic through the area. For Lacombe, this niche is in the City’s value of heritage resources.
To help preserve and promote these features, the City offers a Municipal Heritage Resources grant to maintain and restore historically designated features such as the Michener House Museum and St. Andrew’s United Church.
The grants can be used for residential or commercial properties in restoring historical features or structural pieces that are important to a building being structurally sound.
“Heritage is very key to Lacombe – it’s something we have a lot of, and it’s an asset that we can enhance and improve to really create an experience around heritage that is unique from other municipalities.”
Peron said homeowners and commercial building owners alike share a sense of pride in the buildings they occupy, and that it is this kind of cross-community support for heritage that helps to build Lacombe’s identity as a heritage community.
Throughout 2017, celebrations will take place across the country, celebrating the heritage, the people and the initiatives that have built up Canada as a nation.
Lacombians are encouraged to take part in the City’s celebrations and to take part in the Historical Society, Regional Tourism and Heritage Resources Committee projects.