A walk through the community reveals a look at the architecture and character of Fort Macleod, and Alberta, at the turn of the century.
The historic buildings in Fort Macleod were restored and preserved through the Main Street Program, an initiative funded by the provincial government in 1984. Fort Macleod residents through the years have taken pride in their historic buildings and have made a commitment to preserve and protect their architectural treasures.
It is said that Fort Macleod residents take more pride in restoring and preserving an old building than they do in erecting a new one. That philosophy is certainly evident on the historic Main Street, which was designated one of Alberta’s only two provincial historic districts. Fort Macleod’s historic buildings give the residents a sense of pride in community and history. That the buildings built in the early days of Alberta still stand in Fort Macleod is indicative of the town’s early roots.
You can follow your own self-guided walking tour using the map included in this tourist guide. To begin your tour, park in the parking lot across from The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police on the one-way thoroughfare heading west. Start with a tour of The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police. The Fort was constructed in 1956-’57 as a museum through the efforts of the Fort Macleod Historical Association. It houses a wide variety of artifacts representing native culture, the Mounted Police and pioneer themes. Just west of the Fort Museum is the Stevens Building, which was built in 1897 and housed the town’s first federal post office. It is an example of the boomtown style that was characteristic of Fort Macleod’s main street in the 1890s. The building was later used as a Masonic Lodge, newspaper office and carpentry shop, and this summer it houses an antique shop.
Follow the Devonian Walkway across from the Fort Museum onto Fort Macleod’s historic Main Street.
On the north side of Main Street, at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue is the Queen’s Hotel, built in 1903, replacing the original wood-frame structure. It was the first example of extensive stonework done in the town. Next to the Queen’s Hotel is ATB Financial, followed by Andrews Hardware which houses V2 Fashion. The building that houses Johnny’s Restaurant was built in July 1905 by John Callie. The building has a sandstone front, datestone and
semi-circular parapet at the roofline. Further east on Main Street is the MacDonnell Block West — built by J.S. Lambert in 1909. The sandstone used here by the stonemasons came from the Monarch quarry. At present it is home to Mereski Jewellers.
Right next door is the MacDonnell Block East, a finely crafted two-storey structure with a sandstone front constructed in 1912. It is home today to McNab Realty. The next building is the Empress Theatre, which was built in 1912. Still intact are the original pressed metal ceiling panels, wooden floors and stage, and dressing rooms complete with graffiti by touring vaudeville troupes as long ago as 1913. The original owner was T.B. Martin. The building that now houses the Welcome Mat Seniors’ Drop-In Centre was built in 1921 as Macleod Hardware. The Mackay and Maclean building that is home to Village Greenery and Gifts was built in 1954.
Next door is a building that was built in 1946 as the Macleod’s Store. It is part of Urban Core.
At the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue, you can see two other historic buildings. To the north on Third Avenue is the J.C. Edgar Building, built in 1906 and now home to Southern Connect. To the south on Main Street is Kennefick Livery, built in 1906 and now home to The Macleod Gazette.
Heading west on the south side of Main Street you will encounter a building that is typical of the one-storey wood frame boomtown structures that lined Fort Macleod’s Main Street during the 1890s. It is available for tenancy. Next door is the Fort Macleod Main Street building, built in 1910 of brick and sandstone. The large semi-circular window on the second floor is a noteworthy feature.
Further west is the Leather Block, which was built in 1910 and houses the New Silver Grill Restaurant. The restaurant’s interior boasts a pressed metal ceiling and a turn-of-the-century bar and counter.
Exterior features include sandstone quoining and stained-glass windows on the second storey. According to a local legend the large bar mirror was shattered by a bullet during a particularly lively skirmish in the cafe around 1912-’13.
Continuing west on Main Street you will encounter the R.T. Baker Building, which was built in 1909. This structure is somewhat unique in the town in that both the front and rear walls are of sandstone. It is being renovated to become home to a brew pub. The Reach and Co. Store built in 1907 houses Meraki Artisan Boutique and Gallery on one side and Homestead Bakery on the other side.
The Anderton Block that houses RX Drug Mart was built in 1908-’09 and is another fine example of sandstone masonry. Also housing the drug store is the Cowdry Brothers Bank, built in 1900.
Next door is the A.Y. Young drug store built in 1903, which is home to The Collective, and next to it is the McNeil Matthews east block, which was built in 1910 and houses Bloem Floral Designs.
At the far west end of the block, on the south side of Main Street, is the American Hotel. The original wood frame structure on this site was the Klondyke Hotel, built in the 1890s and renamed the American in 1900. The present 45-room brick structure was built in 1913.
For more information contact The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police or the Town Office.