Welcome to the Lacombe Museum Heritage Learning Garden

Physical Address: 5036 51 St, Lacombe, Alberta

Directions:
The Heritage Learning Garden is located in historic downtown Lacombe beside the Michener House Museum and is 1.5 hours south of Edmonton; 2 hours north of Calgary on Highway II.

What did the landscape look after the Laurentide and Cordilleran Ice Sheets retreated? How was the land used pre-colonization? What do they do at the Lacombe Research Station, and where did the Lacombe Hog come from?

In 2021, with support from sponsors and volunteers, the Lacombe & District Historical Society began the transformation of the lawn at the Michener House Museum into a space answering these important questions and more about changes to Central Alberta’s landscape.

From plant and insect identification to planting heirloom varieties and composting; to fabric dyeing with plants, botanical illustration, and cynotype-photography, there is sure to be an educational experience for you throughout the summer.

General Information of the Project:

As part of our efforts towards reconciliation, the museum is working on creating an Indigenous Garden as part of the Heritage Learning Garden.
Initially, we focused on a small section of the garden (Section 1 on map below), with the hope that our Indigenous partners will help us create a space that their community can make their own. Building trust and meaningful personal relationships with Indigenous groups in the Lacombe region is our number one priority, and any involvement in programming and the heritage garden is a result of our joint efforts.

It may take years before we see further development and progress of the Indigenous Garden. Please read more about our efforts in our Good Relations Handbook.

When we look at this overhead satellite image of the lawn beside the Michener House, it is clear to see the underutilized space. This project will focus on creating a space that can be interpreted by the public for inter-generational uses, a space that is accessible, and a space that is relevant in today’s community.

To accomplish this, we will remove the sod along the proposed pathway, and the two trees currently on site and installing a 4.5 to 5-foot-wide crushed gravel path throughout the area that will be wide enough to accommodate an individual in a wheelchair, with a person walking beside them. We have been working with the Team Jigger Foundation to ensure accessibility to the site is at maximum. This will also accommodate a variety of strollers and walkers throughout the site.

Map Legend

This section of the Heritage Learning Garden is being prepared with reconciliation in mind. We aim to incorporate 3-4 large boulders to create a natural space having recently experienced glacial erosion which can be used for seating and potentially displaying interpretive signage. This area will have Welcome Signage and help transport the visitors from the modern era into a landscape setting of 4,000 years ago.

After installing crushed gravel on the new pathway, we will plant a variety of Alberta-native species, including low-bush cranberries, dogwood, and saskatoon berries throughout the first section of the lot. All plantings and features in this area are subject to adjustment in the future based on input from Indigenous communities and a desire to more accurately represent their culture and history.

Proposed Timeline: 2021-2025

The second section of the lot will feature a ring-shaped garden made from field stones gathered from local farmers and a crushed gravel pathway throughout. We will create this Field Stone ring garden as an interpretive space depicting Early Life on the Prairies, featuring herbs, tulips, rose bushes, and more. It will be connected to the vegetable garden behind the house and provide opportunities to interpret the history of homesteading by women and the “backyard pharmacy.”

In addition, this area will allow us to plant rows of crops that will directly tie into our Agriculture programs. As the first section of the lot will be small and fully planted, this area will provide additional space for crops and learning opportunities.

Proposed Timeline: 2021-2023

Finally, we will also establish an orchard and fruit garden featuring at least 1 apple tree, saskatoon berries, strawberries, raspberries, and haskaps. Throughout the season, and particularly during Open Farm Days and the Culture and Harvest Festival, we will have the opportunity to host educational programming and harvesting of berries and apples for community members and visitors.

This edible section also offers potential partnerships with local companies in the Lacombe region, such as restaurants, breweries, and other non-profit agencies.

Proposed Timeline: 2021-2022

The space behind the house will be transformed into a vegetable garden, inspired by the original garden as depicted in photographs from the archives. We will clear the sod in the designated area and bring in fresh topsoil. Using the small heritage brick path already in place, we will extend it throughout the garden as a way for visitors to walk and work without getting muddy. This area will allow us to grow a variety of seasonal vegetables, which we have previously sold at the local Farmers Market and donated to the local cafe Kavaccino’s for their lunch menu.
In 2020, our team built a large wooden interpretive table for our outdoor Agriculture programming as well as a compost bin, which we will incorporate into this area. We will also construct a special U-shaped raised garden bed/workstation to provide wheelchair access to our interpretive garden programming.
As part of our long-term goals, we may also consider participating in the City of Lacombe’s Backyard Bee and/or Chicken Program in the summer season for educational purposes.

Proposed Timeline: 2021-2023

This multi-year, 4-staged plan will transform a manicured lawn into an educational and experience-driven space that incorporates a wide breadth of history of the region, from the prehistoric era into the 1920’s. The garden will be based on knowledge gleaned from community engagement including local organizations, companies, elders and traditional knowledge keepers; LDHS archival photographs and research; and consultations with landscape and garden experts.

“Traditional Heritage Gardens often accompany Heritage Home museums, however the proposed Lacombe Museum Learning Garden at the Michener House is a twist on this traditional notion: with site accessibility, educational programming, reconciliation and opportunities for both self-guided and group tours in mind, this will be an inclusive learning space in the community; accessible for every body to explore. We are eager to start this next step as both a community and regional tourism asset.”

– Melissa Blunden, Executive Director, Lacombe & District Historical Society.

Thank you

We want to thank Jana Fafard, Triangle Construction, Comet Welding, D&M Concrete Products, Wolf Creek Building Supplies – Castle, and the Echo Lacombe Association for all of their individual contributions and support of this project. The Heritage Learning Garden allows the Lacombe & District Historical Society to expand its services within the community, both during and after the pandemic.

Make sure to follow along the journey on our social media accounts as we dig-in to Phase 3 over 2023!

Explore Stage One Images from 2021

Explore Stage Two Images from 2022

Garden Sponsorship

Members of the community will be able to sponsor specific plants in the garden, as gifts or in memory of loved ones. Please fill out the form below to get in touch