Wednesday, 21 September 2011 15:06

Fort Macleod heritage committee putting down roots

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By Susan Quinlan
Fort Macleod
Although residents of Fort Macleod and area have worked to ensure their history doesn’t fade away with the Fort Museum and North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Barracks in place, some community members felt that because certain artifacts don’t fall under either jurisdiction, the historical net needed to be widened.

As a result, the Fort Macleod Heritage History Group has now been formed and is currently recruiting members.
“I’m a student of history, so being on the board (of the Fort Macleod Historical Association), I requested that we establish a heritage and historical committee,” said long-term resident and former economic development officer, Gordon MacIvor.
“The purpose is to bring interested people from Macleod and district together to discuss the heritage and history of Fort Macleod, moving away from the NWMP. It’s not that they’re not important, but move over to the community of Fort Macleod, the retail side, the churches and culture … There’s so much here besides the NWMP. It’s fascinating in and of itself.”
MacIvor said the new committee got underway earlier this year.
“Enthusiasm seems to be there; it’s just fitting it into people’s schedules that’ll take some time.”
The meeting in early April had the committee looking historical photos that have been donated, as well as discussing contributions made to the region by one outstanding resident to start with, Sir Frederick William Haultain.
Born in 1857 in England, Haultain immigrated to Canada in 1876 and attended the University of Toronto.
“He was a rich character; absolutely fascinating … a lawyer who came west (from Ontario) in the 1880s and practiced law in Macleod, then became premier of the Northwest Territories for 10 years, then an MLA, then he was knighted, then became Chief Justice,” of the Supreme Court of Saskatchewan (1917 – 1939).
MacIvor said when Haultain passed away his ashes were interned near the University of Saskatchewan’s Memorial Gates.
“This is the stuff you find out about, and you just go ‘wow’.”
As the committee’s first project, MacIvor said the group will work with identifying people in historical photographs gathered from local elders.
“At (a previous) meeting, we spent an hour and a half going through picture archives in the fort. The idea or focus is to get a scanner, digitize them and write a little story and put them on the town’s website.”
In this way, groups of photos that are in some way related will then be united by a story explaining their relationship, contributing to the documented history of the region. Both the story and photos will then be uploaded to:
“Let’s have people that are interested, come down and we’ll talk about what we’ve got.”
The committee meets the first Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Fort Museum.
“We’re open and welcoming anyone to come down.
 It’s informal at this point in time.”

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