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Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada

New Visitor Information Centre 2007

In 1876, Fort Battleford was established as a North West Mounted Police post. It was located adjacent to the town of Battleford, which had the distinction of being the capital of the North West Territories until 1883, when it was moved to Regina. The North West Mounted Police helped implement government policies and enforce the law in the new territory. The Fort and the men here played an important role in the North West of 1885, and remained active until 1924. So what does it have to do with modern technology?

new wind turbine at Fort Battleford NHSC
New wind turbine at Fort Battleford, as seen after a summer storm.
© Parks Canada / Platten, J / 2006

By Spring 2006, work will be completed on our new sustainable Visitor Centre at Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada (NHSC). This new building will welcome and orient visitors to Fort Battleford NHSC and will also host an interpretive display created by the Town of Battleford depicting the story of Government Ridge. Solar paneling on the roof and a wind turbine just on the edge of the site will help power the new building. A geothermal ground source system will heat and cool the building along with highly insulated walls. Natural gas is no longer needed and at times excess power will be available to put back into the power grid. All of these features will make the building self-sustaining and help reach the goal of eliminating the production and emission of most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A total of 154 tonnes of gas per year will not be produced because of the sustainable design.

photovoltaic panels at Fort Battleford NHSC
View of 54 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new visitor center at Fort Battleford NHSC.
© Parks Canada / Krebs, L / 2006

The new Visitor Centre at Fort Battleford is not only one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the Parks Canada system of sites and parks but it was also designed with the historic character of the site in mind. For example, the shingles on the roof are a dark green and the walls are painted a light, natural colour so that the building blends into its surroundings. The wind turbine is built in an inconspicuous location so it does not deprive the fort and its historic buildings of their visual effect. The building is located closer to the road, away from the historic buildings, and in an area that has previously been disturbed and that had been surveyed with ground penetrating radar. Thus, the building will not affect any of the archaeological resources of the site.

New Visitor Centre, Fort Battleford NHSC
View of new visitor centre entrance at Fort Battleford NHSC
© Parks Canada / Krebs, L / 2006

The new Visitor Centre is also the result of some unique partnerships. The Town of Battleford is creating an exhibit in the building that will present the history of Old Government House (the seat of territorial government in Battleford), which tragically burned down two years ago. Joint funding from Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Town of Battleford also paid for construction of the building. The result of these partnerships and new technology is a building that has modern energy-saving features coupled with a design that blends into the space around it. This innovative building will enable Fort Battleford NHSC to commemorate the past while respecting the present and looking ahead to the future. Sustainability involves thinking not only of the present but also the future and considering how actions today will affect people tomorrow.