Architectural Wonders in Southern Alberta

Architectural Wonders in Southern Alberta

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Museums & Historic Sites

Architectural Wonders in Southern Alberta

Source: Travel Alberta

The world's tallest tipi towers 65 m (213 ft) above the TransCanada Highway and welcomes me to Medicine Hat. I am dwarfed beneath its giant steel frame and crane my head back to take in circular storyboards depicting First Nations culture and history. Built as a tribute to Canada's aboriginal heritage for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, its name, Saamis, means medicine man's headdress - or hat - in the Blackfoot language. Medicine Hat and southern Alberta, I soon discover, tell their own stories through architecture and antiquity.

Medicine Hat
Hugging the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, Medicine Hat has one of the most picturesque settings in the province. I strike out on the self-guided tour and stroll past stately brick and stone buildings - churches, the courthouse, a Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) station. I climb the creaky stairs inside the Ewart-Duggan House, a Victorian brick home built in 1887, and imagine life in what would have been one of the city's finest homes.

Brooks Aqueduct
A different, almost alien architecture greets me near Brooks, where a concrete sling, suspended 20 m (65 ft) above the ground, marches across a shallow, arid valley. The Brooks Aqueduct was a marvel of engineering for its time. Completed in 1914 by the CPR as part of its vast prairie irrigation network, it is now a National Historic Site. What once carried life-saving water to farmers' crops now stands in tribute to the ingenuity of an earlier era.

Lethbridge
Another marvel of CPR engineering, the High Level Bridge in Lethbridge is my personal favourite. Soaring high above the Oldman River and spanning 1.6 km (1 mi), this elaborate steel train trestle is the world's longest and highest. It seems to defy the laws of nature. I watch, transfixed, as a train chugs across the precipitous expanse more than 100 years after the bridge was built.

Antiquity
While these grandiose structures wow because of their originality, a more modest edifice fascinates me because of its history. The old tipple at the Atlas Coal Mine is the last of its kind in Canada. I climb the conveyor tunnel on a tour and am surprised to learn the coal was sorted and cleaned by boys as young as 15. It's easy to imagine the coal dust and soot swirling in the wind up here. At the top, a breathtaking vista of the badlands is spread out before me, and I can't help but respect the labourers who rushed by the thousands to seek their fortunes here.

EXPLORE ALBERTA

GOOD TIMES IN ALBERTA’S BADLANDS

Take a family driving holiday through the Canadian Badlands in southern Alberta for a lesson in history, arts, Aboriginal culture and everything prehistoric.

FAMILY HISTORY CELEBRATED IN ALBERTA’S UKRAINIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE VILLAGE

Through costumed actors and farmstead replicas, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in east central Alberta offers a glimpse into the life of our early pioneers.

SUMMER EVENTS AT ALBERTA’S BAR U RANCH NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

Drive the cowboy trail this summer to Alberta’s historic Bar U Ranch for authentic cowboy cooking, rodeo events and plenty of family fun.

HISTORIC FORTS OF ALBERTA

Alberta forts and their museums reveal a colourful history of fur traders, bootleggers, Mounties, homesteaders and First Nations coexisting on the wild western frontier.
Banff National Park's Cave and Basin

BANFF NATIONAL PARK'S CAVE AND BASIN

Explore this National Historic Site and relive the moment in 1883 when three railway workers stumbled upon the natural hot springs that became the birthplace of Canada’s national park system.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

HEAD-SMASHED-IN BUFFALO JUMP

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta brings the history of the Plains Indians to life. Learn about their culture, watch costumed hoop dancers. Feel the rhythm of the drums.
History In Alberta - Journey Into The Past

HISTORY IN ALBERTA - JOURNEY INTO THE PAST

Step into Heritage Park Historical Village and experience what it’s like to ride a historic rail car or sit down for an elegant 1920s dinner.
The Past Lives on at Heritage Park Historical Village

THE PAST LIVES ON AT HERITAGE PARK HISTORICAL VILLAGE

Ride the steam train at Calgary’s living history museum, explore authentic buildings and artifacts, and connect with the people of the day through live demonstrations.
Digging Deep Into Alberta's History

DIGGING DEEP INTO ALBERTA'S HISTORY

A century ago, industrialists and labourers by the thousands rushed west to find their fortunes in Alberta’s rich coal deposits. Find out what happened to them.
Cave and Basin Origins of Banff National Park

CAVE AND BASIN – ORIGINS OF BANFF NATIONAL PARK

The Cave and Basin, an underground cave where bubbling thermal waters connect people to the essence of Banff National Park, is the birthplace of Canada’s national parks system.
Bodo Archaeological Site

BODO ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

You can touch the past with your own hands at the Bodo Archaeological Site in central Alberta, where bison were hunted communally for thousands of years.
Get Crafty in Alberta

GET CRAFTY IN ALBERTA

More and more people are seeking out made-by-hand creations. Whether you're a collector or a budding artisan, the Alberta craft scene is where it's at.
Medalta's Historic Clay District

MEDALTA'S HISTORIC CLAY DISTRICT

Discover the essence of Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat. It starts in the earth beneath your feet and lives on in works of art both practical and incredible.
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