- Real Estate
Rising from the prairie, a new Visitor Centre for Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, will soon welcome visitors to a sacred place. The park, a National Historic Site, protects the largest collection of native rock art found in North America, some of the largest blocks of native prairie in Alberta and a replica of the original North West Mounted Police outpost – an important symbol of Canadian history.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a provincial historic resource and archaeological preserve. It preserves and protects hundreds of Aboriginal petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on sandstone cliffs of the Milk River valley.
Alberta Centennial Legacies Program contribution of .9 million dollars was supplemented by Parks and Protected Areas Division capital budget to fund a new 3.2 million dollar interpretive visitor centre in the park. The centre will share the wealth of cultural and natural history in this park with Albertans and visitors traveling in the province.
Over the years, the blending of people and cultures has contributed to the rich history of Writing-on-Stone. When the North West Mounted Police made their trek west in 1874, the people of the Blackfoot Nation, who lived here, assisted these newcomers as they struggled to survive. Soon after the NWMP arrived, European settlers followed, adding the traditions of the ranching lifestyle.
Visitors will have a perfect view of the Sweetgrass Hills to the south, from this vantage point overlooking the Milk River Valley, as the centre acts as a portal into a new world of discoveries. Using the visitor centre as a base, exhibits and programs will engage visitors and stimulate a desire to get out and see for themselves the rich history of the First Nations, of ranching, and the NWMP outpost life.
Designed specifically for this extreme climate, the building and landscape will conserve water, and provide shady spots outside. New technologies will be applied for energy efficient lighting and improved indoor air quality. A variety of recycled and easily renewable materials will add to the environmentally responsible building practices.
The visitor centre was planned in consultation with the Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society, a non profit organization dedicated to public education about the Blackfoot society. The centre’s unique architectural design is intended to emulate the First Nations’ view of the world and the significance of the circle in their understanding of the cosmos and that time itself moves in cycles. This symbolic shape is seen in medicine wheels throughout the prairies.
The park staff, along with the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Nation, invites you to come and experience the historic, cultural and overwhelming spiritual awakening in this ancient place when the visitor centre opens in 2006.