Surrounded on three sides by the Glenmore Reservoir, Heritage Park is located on a 127-acre peninsula of prime parkland in south Calgary. The Park first opened to the public on 1 July 1964, after only nine months of preparations. During that time, two dozen historical buildings were moved in, repaired, and then furnished with a few thousand artifacts. These days, the Park has more than 180 exhibits and service structures, half of which are relocated and restored originals. Additionally, the Park has a historical collection of 50,000 artifacts, mostly donated by the public.
With such figures, it’s no wonder that Heritage Park is one of the largest and most successful living history museums in North America. The Park preserves the history of Western Canada in a fun, educational way, allowing modern-day visitors to discover many aspects of a settler’s life here from as early as the 1860s.
Five Calgary Philharmonic musicians recently visited the site to record performances for one of our City Spaces virtual concerts highlighting local landmarks. They had a chance to explore two historically important buildings: The Burns’ Barn and the Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women, where they took out their instruments and tried out the acoustics.
Jennifer Frank-Umana (Associate Principal Horn), Doug Umana (Horn), and Adriana Lebedovich (Violin) performed in the original Burns’ Barn. The Barn, built in 1927, was owned by ‘Cattle King’ Patrick Burns. Large, attractive farm buildings like this one were a sign of prosperity at the time. Originally a horse barn, it was built on a feedlot in what is now southeast Calgary.
“It was super cool to perform here in the Burns’ Barn at Heritage Park,” says Adriana Lebedovich, who chose solos that reflect her Ukrainian heritage. “I’ve been coming to Heritage Park ever since I was a kid.”
As an entrepreneurial rancher, Burns expanded aggressively into ranching, packing, and the retail meat trade, establishing the largest integrated meat business in Canada, and becoming Calgary’s first millionaire. Burns was also one of the ‘Big Four’ cattle owners who helped finance the first ever Calgary Stampede in 1912.
John Lowry (Associate Concertmaster) and Laurent Grillet-Kim (Principal Viola) each performed their solos in the Famous 5 Centre, which is an enlarged mirror-image replica of Nellie McClung’s Calgary residence from 1923 to 1932. The McClungs were known for their hospitality, and kept a large home and carefully tended gardens.
McClung is best known for the ‘Persons Case.’ When the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not persons under the law, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, and McClung took the case to the highest court in the British Empire. On 18 October 1929, the Privy Council ruled that women were indeed persons, giving legal equality to all Canadian women. Originally called The Alberta Five, these women were later referred to as The Famous 5, as their actions affected Canada as a whole.
Regular visitors to the Calgary Phil’s home venue at the Jack Singer Concert Hall will be familiar with the Famous 5 Statues across from the entrance to Arts Commons, in Olympic Plaza.
Opened in 2014 as part of Heritage Park’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the Famous 5 Centre welcomes guests for traditional afternoon teas on the verandah in the summer, or in the elegant dining room during the winter. The house is also an event space, frequently used for weddings — and occasionally virtual concerts.
City Spaces: Heritage Park premieres online on Saturday 29 May 2021. Learn more and register on our Virtual Concerts page.
By Dagny MacGregor
Dinner + Concert Promo
For this concert we partnered with Heritage Park’s Selkirk restaurant to offer a special deal on a three-course dinner for two to enjoy with the concert. Order by 5PM on Thursday 27 May for curbside pickup on the Friday or Saturday, then warm it up when you’re ready — you can view the full menu here.