The Whitecourt and District Heritage Society was incorporated as a non-profit society in June 1979. It was formed to safeguard and promote awareness of the heritage of Whitecourt and area, and to educate Albertans and visitors to the province on the history, significance and impact of Alberta’s forests.
The five buildings currently located in Heritage Park are the Blue Ridge United Church, the Leary Log home, the Leo Baxter house, the Gibson barn and a trapper’s cabin. Old farm and logging equipment compliments the buildings. Summer Students provide tours of the Interpretive Centre Gallery and the Heritage Park buildings during the summer months. Many
area school children visit the Gallery throughout the year to get a living history lesson.
The Blue Ridge United Church was built in the neighbouring hamlet of Blue Ridge in the 1950’s. In 2004, the Heritage Society purchased this building for $100 and arranged to have it relocated to Heritage Park. The Church contains the original pulpit, pews and organ.
The Leary Log Home was built in 1910 by Mike Prestilen for Mike Leary. The Leary’s raised their family here and one of their daughter’s, Josephine Baxter (Leary) donated this home to the Heritage Society in 2003. The interior has been furnished through the use of photos and the memories of the Baxter family. Leo Baxter built the Baxter house in 1919 when he moved to Whitecourt after the Great War.
The Gibson Barn built by Ralph Gibson was donated to the Heritage Society by his widow Adelle Gibson (Baxter). It currently houses many artefacts awaiting a permanent home in the future museum.
The Trapper’s Cabin is a replica built and donated by Heritage Society Board Member, Leo McMahon. It is indicative of a typical cabin that many area trappers lived in.
Whitecourt’s first history book “Sagitawah Saga” documented the area’s history from 1900 to 1975. The second history book, named “Whitecourt – A History 1975-2010”, depicts the history from 1975 to 2010. This documentation of Whitecourt’s history will provide past, present and future residents with a sense of community pride in Whitecourt’s continued growth and development. Both books are available for purchase at the Heritage Centre, the Whitecourt Library, Allan and Jean Millar Centre and the Town Office.