Just An Observation: Take a free ride through Alberta’s history

The annual Alberta Culture Days is a chance to experience different aspects of this province

For anyone that might have the opportunity, this coming weekend is the best time to check out those tourist destinations that you have really wanted to finally visit.

Running from Sept. 28 to 30, it’s the annual free admission weekend dubbed Alberta Culture Days.

Translated, that means all of the provincially operated historical sites and museums can be accessed at no cost and provides a wonderful time of family fun.

In addition, there will be a variety of featured sites — Wetaskiwin and District Museum included — offering up a tremendous range of free programming to participate in over all three days to go along with nearly 80 other groups across the province hosting either one or two days of programs highlighting culture, history and the arts.

The most prominent facility — and it will no doubt be bursting at the seams all weekend — that will be available is the world-renown Royal Tyrrell Museum near Drumheller.

That would likely be followed, in popularity, by the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre in the Crowsnest Pass and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump northwest of Fort McLeod.

All three of these are places would hold an interest and are also ones that I haven’t yet been able to pay a visit, for various reasons.

Frank Slide holds a special place in mind as the one I would want to get to the most, simply because one set of grandparents lived in the area many years after the 1904 event and my grandfather worked in some of the area’s mines.

The uniqueness of the site is one of the attractions of the buffalo jump, although my First Nations heritage is another reason for the curiosity regarding the lives of the people back then along with the appeal of how the hunt was done.

And, having grown up on a farm, all of the agricultural aspects at Reynolds is the biggest factor that will get me through the door. However, I know all of the other mechanical items — from airplanes to vehicles — on display also hold a certain fascination in my thoughts.

However, there are a few more sites that have significant history attached to them that might prove an interesting lesson.

The Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston — complete with restoration shop and a stable — would engross anyone with an affinity for old-time transportation, intricate wood working and horses.

Calgary’s Lougheed House and Rutherford House in Edmonton would certainly hold the attention of anyone wanting to know more about Alberta’s political history while also taking in the wonderful historical architecture, furnishings and other every day living items from around the times before, during and after this region became a Canadian province.

For anyone wanting to learn more about what has driven Alberta’s economy for a long time, the long drive up to Fort McMurray in order to drop into the Oil Sand Interpretive Centre might be worth it. Open for 33 years, the facility has numerous live presentations about the processes used, a huge 150-tonne hauler to get a picture to go along with various outdoor displays just to name a few of the attractions.

And last, but not least, anyone that has an aptitude or passion to learn anything and everything about this province’s past, popping into the Provincial Archives of Alberta in Edmonton during this weekend would likely be just the first visit that would be made.

The Archives’ vaults have millions of historical documents, films, photographs and various other reports and records carefully stored and catalogued that can be accessed by the public.

While normally used by people, groups and organizations to perform research — such as into genealogy, past events and how history was recorded — the Archives also holds exhibits throughout the year. At the moment, it is featuring a look back at the work done in Alberta by the Highways branch in the early 1900s including documents and photographs of road work, bridge construction and how workers lived while on the job.

Now, not all of these will interest everyone, but with all of the activities slated to take place around all corners of Alberta, there should be at least one thing people can participate in — even if you have to work on the weekend and can only find a little bit of down time.

Here’s hoping everyone can find something that interests them or their family.

And the best part — it’s free to attend.

But that is…just an observation.

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