Creating Resiliency through Awareness and Preparation – a Long Term Conservation Strategy for Protected Community Historic Resources in Medicine Hat, Alberta

January 21, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Talva Jacobson, Medalta Potteries Resident Industrial Archaeologist, PhD Student, Michigan Technological University

Flood waters penetrated both Medalta Potteries National Historic Site and The Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Co. Provincial Historic Resource, in June 2013, creating awareness that the historic and archaeological resources inside these sites are susceptible to deterioration or complete loss when exposed to unforeseen disaster. The flood that impacted Southern Alberta was the most expensive flood in Alberta’s history. In addition to the tens of thousands of people displaced during this flood event, there were many heritage resources damaged by flood waters. I returned to the Historic Clay District of Medicine Hat to assess the damage of heritage resources affected by flooding, monitor decontamination, establish methods to stabilize remains and prepare a conservation strategy for the long term conservation of these resources. This talk will reveal how heritage resources at Medalta Potteries and the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Co. were impacted, what steps were taken to prepare, recover, and stabilize damaged heritage resources at these sites. Historic kiln structures require specific procedures aimed at preparing resources when disaster is imminent. The lessons learned since 2013 have revealed that resiliency lies in awareness, community collaboration minimizes risk, and an emergency management plan reduces the damage to or loss of heritage resources.