Community Involvement » Famous 5 Interpretive Centre

Shane Homes is one of the many supporters assisting the Heritage Park Historical Village with the cost of building the Famous 5 Interpretive Centre.

Company founder, Cal Wenzel, is incredibly excited for the company to be part of this initiative which will become a very important piece of history at Heritage Park. “We have agreed to contribute $500,000 for the honour of building a replication of the Nellie McClung house currently located in downtown Calgary. This new building will serve as an interpretive centre for exploring the history of Nellie McClung and the other Famous Five women who were instrumental in women gaining the status of ‘person’ and the right to vote in Canada in 1915. The building is currently underway at Heritage Park and scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013.

McClung joined Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards and petitioned for the word “person” under the British North American Act to include women. When the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against them, the group took their appeal to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and in 1929 won the right to be called “persons” and be eligible for appointment to the Canadian Senate. This decision was monumental in its advancement of women’s rights, and engendered radical change in the judicial approach to the Canadian constitution, an approach that has become known as the “living tree doctrine”.

“These incredible women made a tremendous impact on the political, social and cultural development of our province and our nation,” said Alberta Culture Minister, Heather Klimchuk. “The story of their determined effort and triumph on behalf of all Canadians will continue to be shared as students and visitors connect to their past at the Famous Five Interpretive Centre at Heritage Park.”

The Famous 5 Interpretive Centre will feature three floors of interactive and engaging space. The lower walk-out level will include a classroom and library for school groups. The main and upper floors will share the stories of the Famous Five as well as other influential Canadian women in history. The house has a large verandah that will be used to host afternoon teas. After hours, the exhibit can be rented out as a venue for weddings and private functions where up to 20 guests can dine in the elegant dining room or 60 can enjoy a stand up reception in the foyer and drawing room. The home will be surrounded by elegant, period appropriate gardens which will make the perfect location for a lovely outdoor wedding ceremony.

“Heritage Park, in its quest to fulfill its mandate of ‘Connecting People with the Settlement of Western Canada’ has embarked upon an exciting project that will fulfill this directive and bring to life the stories that have not been well told before,” said Alida Visbach, President and CEO of Heritage Park Historical Village. “The new Famous Five Interpretive Centre, the cornerstone of Heritage Park’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2014 will give us this opportunity to not only share the stories of the Famous Five, but of all influential women in Canadian history. Imagine the history we can impart, the lessons we can teach and the minds we can reach from the stage of this women’s history centre.”

The Famous Five Interpretive Centre will open mid 2014 as part of Heritage Park’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The cost for the project is an estimated $3.4 million with support thus far from the City of Calgary, Shane Homes, Newalta Corporation, Macquarie Private Wealth Inc and the Macquarie Group Foundation, Dick and Lois Haskayne, Scott and Kim Sargeant, the Brawn Family Foundation and now the Government of Alberta.