BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Town of Blackfalds celebrated the official launch of their Canada 150 project last week when they officially broke ground on the new location of the historic Wadey House.
“We’re just very pleased that we are able to preserve this home as part of our Canada 150 project,” said Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol of the project, which is geared towards creating a tourist information centre and creating a permanent location in which to house the Blackfalds and District Chamber of Commerce and the Blackfalds and Area Historical Society.
In July of 2015, the Town of Blackfalds received funding of $162,600 from the Government of Canada in order to assist with preserving the historical building, a historic Eaton’s package home that was shipped to Blackfalds and erected in 1916 by an early settler, George Wadey.
The Canada 150 Fund was set up by the Government of Canada to support initiatives that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
“I don’t believe it could have been (possible without that funding.) Just having that support, that extra financial support. Because this is a big commitment and our groups like the Historical Society and our Chamber of Commerce, as you can imagine, these are small not-for-profits operating on a local basis.
“It would have been impossible for them to fund raise enough money to do this project,” Stol said of the funding, which will help pay for the refurbishment and relocation of the house.
She added that projects such as this are important to a growing community such as Blackfalds.
“It’s super important. When you have a town like Blackfalds that’s had such tremendous growth over the last 10 and 20 years, these older homes are kind of tucked away and some people think that new developments are going to be king. But it’s actually really nice to respect our history and we have an opportunity to preserve a home like this,” Stol said.
The house itself will be moved to its new, permanent home on the corner of South St. and Vista Tr. after a foundation is constructed on the site.
“It is one of the primary entrances into our community. So people coming off Highway 2, if they need to stop in Blackfalds, this will become the cornerstone, the first thing they see.
“That’s really nice because you’re going to have a nice, attractive feature and a place for a person to stop and get directions and to get information, not only about Blackfalds but about the entire Central Alberta region,” Stol said.
The Town of Blackfalds acquired the Wadey House a number of years ago after the land on which the house sits on was purchased by a developer.
“We approached them and said what is your intention with this house? And they, of course, said, ‘It’s for development, it would be our intent to clear the land’. We then had the home inspected to make sure it was of good quality, because sometimes homes like this, if they’re not cared for can fall apart.
“What we found in that inspection was that the master beams were all in excellent condition and this home was a quality home worthy of preservation,” Stol said.
The developer allowed the Town to take the home without cost, they just had to pay to move it.
Now the plan is to build a proper foundation with a basement, along with some public washrooms on the exterior of the house.
“The basement will serve as the archival space, the bedrooms will be converted into office space and then the main floor of the home will be the display space and the tourism-based space.”
Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, who was also in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the project will be a great one for Blackfalds.
“It’s great, especially in a community like Blackfalds, which has grown so much over the last few years. To get established with their Historical Society and have some dedicated square footage for them to use. Virtually every community you go to has a visitor information centre, usually put on by the Chamber of Commerce, so them moving here and re-purposing the Wadey House, which has a unique history in and of itself, it just seems like a natural fit,” he said.
Judy Carleton, president of the Blackfalds & Area Historical Society, said when <span cla