Fort McMurray Historical Society: Heritage Park
Tourism Region: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
The mandate/ purpose of the Fort McMurray Historical Society is to encourage and participate in the collecting, preserving, researching and interpreting artifacts, documents, buildings and sites in order to preserve and maintain an ongoing record of the history of the region, and to inform and educate the public regarding our social and cultural history.
This organization has always operated to keep the record of the history of this community with the highest standards possible through the tremendous growth and change that this community has experienced. This growth and change has exerted great pressures on the resources of the Society to meet the growing demands of our citizens and visitors for tours, research, records, photos, programming, and continued use of the buildings at Heritage Park.
*Prices include GST
Students & Seniors $5.00
Children 5 and under Free.
Family Rate: $20.00 (Family consists of 2 adults & 2 students, additional members at regular rate)
*Members: FREE (must show membership card)
Guided Tours: additional $2.00 per person
by appointment only
Heritage Park is a 6.6-acre area containing seventeen historic buildings, two railway cars, a collection of large artifacts, and the new Heritage Park Community Historic Resource Center. The historic buildings date from about 1914 to the late 1940’s, providing visitors with a glimpse of Fort McMurray as it was in the first half of the last century. Some of the buildings are set up to provide visitors with an idea of how specific locations such as the first school room or a trapper’s cabin might have looked. Other buildings contain more traditional museum displays on themes such as the first bush pilots, fishing, trapping, the fur trade, the salt plants, logging, railways, telephones, the ice harvest, and river transportation. Our newest building, opened in August of 2003, is the former home of Walter and Gladys Hill, and contains eight display areas showcasing artifacts from 1934-1970. New exhibitions recently opened include the Pharmacy, Tools of the Trade, Law and Order of the North, the Hotel and the Fur Trade.
The Park also has a large artifact collection that includes a grader, a drilling rig from the 1920's, a steam tractor, a Fairbanks Morse stationary diesel engine, a Krupp bucket wheel from Syncrude's pilot plant, and Fort McMurray’s first fire truck: Pumper 1.
Coming Soon: The Golosky House, Marine Park Museum and more.
Approximate number of objects in the collections: 10,000
Our archival collection represents a wide range of holdings, documents, and photographs of the Wood Buffalo Region from 1870 to the Present day.
Architectural Records •
Cartographic Materials •
Electronic Records •
Prints and Drawings •
Films and Videos •
Sound Recordings •
Our Artifacts are collected from a 100 mile radius of Fort McMurray pertaining to the social history of our region.
Costumes and Accessories
Exploration and Survey
Furniture or Furnishings
Household Objects or Domestic Technology
Maps, Charts, Plans or Blueprints
Marine History and Technology
Medical History and Technology
Military History and Technology
Printing and Bookbinding
Religious or Liturgical Objects
Toys and Games
: Motorized ground
Other: We have collections specific to local families that have lived in Fort McMurray
Services & Activities
About Heritage Park Museum
Heritage Park is a 6.6-acre area containing numerous historic buildings, a collection of large artifacts, and the Heritage Park Community Historic Resource Centre. The historic buildings date from about 1914 to the late 1940’s, providing visitors with a glimpse of Fort McMurray as it was in the first half of the last century. Some of the buildings are exhibited to show visitors how specific locations such as the first school room or a trapper’s cabin might have looked. Other buildings contain more traditional museum displays on themes such as the first bush pilots, fishing, trapping, the fur trade, the salt plants, logging, railways, telephones, the ice harvest, and river transportation. Significant features are the Hill House, former home of Walter and Gladys Hill, which contains eight display areas showcasing artifacts from 1934-1970 and the Clausen Cabin that depicts the history of forestry through the Huberdeau Collection and forestry artifacts. Coming soon is the addition of the Golosky House exhibition and the Royal Bank restoration. Our exhibition developments include Pacific Western Airlines, Tools of the Trade, St. Gabriel’s Hospital, the Catholic Mission and the Hotel. Other exhibitions feature Magistrates, Alberta Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the North West Mounted Police. We have a large artifact collection that includes the Radium Scout, a grader, a drilling rig from the 1920's, a steam tractor, a Fairbanks Morse stationary diesel engine, a Krupp bucket wheel from Syncrude's pilot plant, and Fort McMurray’s first fire truck: Pumper 1. In 2008, we received our ladder truck from the Olds Fire Department. It has come back to Fort McMurray where it was originally put into service.
Heritage Park offers guided tours to adult bus tour groups as well as children's groups such as the Big Sisters Boys and Girls Club and local day camps. During the summer our children’s theatre camp is held on site producing a unique play performed each Heritage Day. Our interpretive programs also include week long summer camps for ages 5 – 10 based on themes like Home Style Heritage, Puppetry, and Storytelling.
Our site offers special curriculum based programming for grades 1-7 classes. The Grades 1 & 2 classes get a hands-on tour that coordinates with our “Unlock Our History” CD. The grade 3 classes participate in “Pioneer Days” getting a history lesson taught in our replica schoolhouse using 1912 materials and methods, followed by a guided tour of the park with special activities teaching them how the Pioneers lived. The Moving North Program for Grade 4 classes participate in re-enacting episodes from 6 families from the 30’s and 40’s, learning how they lived and what it took to survive in that era. Other curriculum programs include the Chevron Heritage Park Museum School - Open Minds Program and the Grade 5 Fur Trade Program.
The Fort McMurray Historical Society’s centennial project, “Our History” Timeline CD-ROM, is an interactive account of Fort McMurray’s history of the past 100 years. The CD-Rom is intended for use by all age groups as it includes facts, images, trivia, a sports section and interpretive links.
Special events are held throughout the park season. Our events include Celtic Day and Park Opening, National Aboriginal Day, Theatre Camp performances, Heritage Day, Old Fashioned Christmas, and Seniors Tea.
Additional offerings from our site include the Bilingual Founder’s Plaques, making up the Interpretive Walking Trail. A Waterways walking tour is also being launched to work in conjunction with these plaques. Each plaque gives a summary of the buildings and equipment on site including donor recognition, history of the buildings, photos and interesting facts. We have a 7000 piece photograph collection and have the ability to scan and reprint pictures from it for a small fee. We also handle numerous research requests every month, assisting community members in finding historic information, tracing ancestors, and locating useful books and documents.
Throughout the year, there are several facilities that are available to rent at our beautiful park. Weddings are booked at St. Aidan’s, the Catholic Mission and the Gazebo. In addition, there are conference facilities and barbequing opportunities.
About the Marine Park Museum
The Marine Park is a 4 acre site located on the Clearwater River. This site is under development in partnership with the community and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The Marine Park will showcase the Miskanaw, the Radium Scout, the Miskanaw Barge, Dredge 250, the McMurray, a Fuel Barge, the Kris, and the NAR Trains. This site will document the significant history of the transportation industry in our community. In addition, this site will have walking trails, parkland, and a museum building. The Federal Government has donated the ships to the project and the municipality has agreed to lease the land along the Clearwater to the project. The location of the park is the only remaining original shipyard site left in the Province of Alberta. The Fort McMurray Historical Society will also add new programs and events once this site is open to the public.
The FMHS believes in the significance of these ships as historical artifacts. Each vessel was built specifically to serve Fort McMurray. Together, they tell the story of northern river transportation: dredging, channel marking, and freight transfer. The FMHS wishes to restore and maintain these vessels in a public park for viewing. The inclusion of the museum center will provide the FMHS with a second venue to operate school programs and to offer visitors to the region a second destination. The new exhibitions will benefit the Aboriginal and Métis by showcasing their history in our region. Two Heritage Collections have not even been displayed due to a lack of safe space to exhibit them, which will be rectified by the Marine Park Museum.
We have a photo reproduction service and our research service. We have a 7000 piece photograph collection. We will scan and reprint pictures from it for a small fee. We also handle numerous research requests every month, assisting community members in finding historic information, tracing ancestors, and locating useful books and documents. Access to the archives is dependent on the availabilty of our archivist and/or volunteers
Archival Records •
Conservation or Restoration •
Genealogical Research •
Information Centre •
The park also offers special programming to grades 1-5 classes from local schools. The Grades 1 & 2 classes get a hands-on tour that coordinates with our “Unlock Our History CD. The grade 3 classes participate in “Pioneer Days” getting a history lesson taught in our replica schoolhouse using 1912 materials and methods, followed by a guided tour of the park with special activities teaching them how the Pioneers lived. The Grade 4 classes get to re-enact 6 families from the 30 and 40s, learning how lived and what it took to survive in those days. In 2008, we introduced the pilot Fur Trade Program for Grade 5 students. This program is offered during February and March, teaching the students about the fur traders, the Northwest Company, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the aboriginal community here in Fort McMurray. For 2009, our site became an Open Minds Program site during the winter months. In addition in 2007, the park launched the Timeline interactive CD.
Classes or Workshops
: Age 0-4 (Pre-School)
: Age 5-11 (k-6)
: Age 12-17 (7-13)(Quebec: Secondary 1-CEGEP)
Other: Day Camps, Theatre Camp, Summer Camps
We engage our visitors with a walk though a village locked in time. Guided tours, special events, gift shop services, programming, research and quality customer service. We also work with weddings, conferences, and speaking engagements through our conference room.
Accessible by Public Transportation
Children's Activities or Services
: Nursing area or Change Table
Information Centre or Desk
Meeting Room Rental
Nature Trails, Walks or Gardens
Special Needs Facilities
: Wheelchairs available
: Wheelchair access
Other Guided Tours: Marine Park Museum: COMING SOON!
Volunteer Services Available •
Volunteer Training Offered
Number of Volunteers: 100+
Activities: Cleaning, collection care, research, library, gift shop, maintenance, grounds care, carpentry, mechanics, restoration, events set-up and tear down, classes, teaching, children activities, etc.
10% off in Gift Shop, Seasonal pass, food at events, new friends
Small concession and Ice Cream shack that are open seasonally at events.
Snack Bar or Vending Machines •
Picnic Area •
Catering Services •
Other: Homemade Ice cream available on events & for School Programs.
Local Tourism Links
Publications & Products
Guides and maps describing the park and our history. Souvenirs such as caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, key chains, and educational CD-ROMS.
Museum Guide •
Tour Packages •
T-Shirts or Sweatshirts or Caps
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