Heritage Park Society
Our Story Why We Exist
Lured out west with the promise of bountiful harvests, beautful scenery and a better way of life, thousands of men and women packed up what they could, boarded wooden Colonist rail cars and began their seven day journey across the country to their new reality.
What greeted them when they arrived was barren landcapes, isolation and a struggle against mother nature just to survive. Many had immigrated to Canada, leaving families, homes and jobs behind, and now lived in one room shacks, built from the sod beneath their feet. They had to learn how to live off the land, and make due with what was available to them.
The strong perservered, adapted, and even flourished. It was their foresight, ingenuity and drive to succeed that paved the way for who we are as Western Canadians today. With every passing generation, we become more immersed in our complex, modern day culutre and further removed from the past.
As Western Canada grows in size and cultural diversity, it is more important now than ever to provide an understanding of the unique challenges and accomplishments of the pioneers who settled the land and who established the foundation on which Western Canada was built.
As Sir Winston Churchill said, "The farther backward you look, the father forward you are likely to see."
Our Impact What We Do
Heirtage Park Historical Village is Canada's most engaging living history museum, where visitors of all ages and walks of life can personally experience the heritage of Western Canada in a way that inspires, educates and entertains. The park connects visitors to the Settlement of Western Canada from the 1860s to the 1950s through memorable experiences. Since 1964 the Park has introduced millions of people from around the world to how the west was once by providing an authentic representation of the past.
Since 2009, Heritage Park has doubled in size, become a year-round operation and has been awarded over 70 times for its excellence. The Park is constantly expanding its ability to share the stories of our past with new programming and exhibits, including the new Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women, the Montefiore Institute and Gasoline Alley Museum.
- Heritage Park celebrated its 50th anniversary with a record attendance of more than 685,000 visitors, a 15% increase over 2013.
- Opened the Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women; a replica of Nellie McClung's home designed to share the stories of the Famous Five, as well as other women in Western Canadian history.
- Awarded a White Hat Award for Best Festival/Attraction/Event for 50th Anniversary Celebrations.
- Alida Visbach, Heritage Park President and CEO awarded Mayors' White Hat Award and Alto Ambassador Award.
Our Programs How We Do It
Each year Heritage Park welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests through its front gates, providing authentic memorable experiences in many different ways.
Our formal education programs currently reach over 45,000 school children every year, connecting them to the people and places from the early days of western settlement. All of Heritage Park's programs have a carefully created education component that is innovative, interactive and memorable, making it easy for school children to forget they are learning as they live, breathe and enjoy the past!
The park provides immersive education for adults as well, ranging from brewing workshops to historical cooking classes, weekends spent working with a team of heavy horses, to learning how to garden for bees. Since 2009 Heritage Park has placed a greater emphasis on its adult education offerings, and this continues to grow each year.
Step inside the park gates on a summer's day and you will be immersed in a number of authentic experiences. When Heritage Park opened on July 1, 1964, it had a handful of exhibits and was originally intended to be a children's pioneer theme park. Today, Heritage Park has grown into Canada's largest living history museum with over 180 exhibits, and over 55,000 artifacts, all of which have been carefully selected to share a story from our past. Park staff are trained with knowledge and insight of the people and places they are representing and the programming is carefully curated to provide an accurate and fullsome experience. Cultural and faith-based programming have been the focus of ongoing development with new additions each year to the park's Aboriginal programming in the Settlement and First Nations' Encampment. In 2009 the park was gifted with the Montefiore Institute, allowing Heritage Park to share the stories of the Jewish culture and specifically the Montefiore farming colony. In 2014 Heritage Park built a first-of-its-kind exhibit designed to focus solely on women making history in Western Canada. The Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women is a replica of Nellie McClung's former Calgary home and shares the stories of Nellie and her family, as well as the Famous Five group of women. Future enhacements to the park's programming include a focus on our cowboy culture, leisure and the redevelopment of Heritage Park's natural resource area.
Our Requests What You Can Do
As a charitable organization, Heritage Park relies on the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations to make the preservation of the past possible.
Help keep history alive for future generations.
Financial support for Heritage Park can be provided in a variety of ways: annual gifts, donations for special projects, exhibits or programming, fundraising events, capital projects and legacy gifts.
- Donations up to $1000 will be considered a general Heritage Park donation to support the upkeep and operations of the Park
- $1000+ can go towards Heritage Park's education and Aboriginal programming
- $10,000-$25,000 can be put towards Heritage Park's Special Events
- $50,000+ Heritage Park would be happy to set up a meeting to align donor's wishes with Heritage Park's needs
All donations of $25 or more will receive a charitable tax reciept. All donations to the park, no matter their size, make a difference. Please give generously to help preserve the past that has shaped the way of life we enjoy today.