The Heritage Centre is a Unique Barn Wedding & Event Venue in Alberta
More Than A Barn
The Heritage Centre 1904 Barn was the first building block for this beautiful wedding and event venue located near Calgary, Alberta. This Alberta Barn made the owners dreams come truce. There is nothing more “Alberta” than the sight of a big red barn. The backs of these grand buildings sway with age as time passes. Like the settlers and homesteaders that built them, Alberta Barns are grey and weathered by the Prairie Sun many falling to the effects of harsh Alberta winters and heavy snow loads.
Alberta born Debora Rice-Salomons grew up with memories of barn dances at her grandfather’s (Russell Rice) barn east of Torrington, Alberta. As a little girl, she remembers spreading dance wax; twirling with a floor polisher to get an extra shine on the hayloft dance floor; and dancing with her father at the Rice Barn dances. Debora’s father passed away when she was seven years old, so these barn dance memories became how she remembered her dad.
Aunt Lola Hazel (nee Rice) of Knee Hill County explains her Grandfather Frank Rice was convinced by his three then unmarried sons to install a “numer one fir dance floor” in their barn to host dances in hopes of enticing marriageable young women to the family farm for evenings of dancing.
When the Rice Barn was built in 1924, the Rice boys travelled by horse and wagon to the Eagle Hill Sawmill northwest of Olds, Alberta to purchase the lumber for the dance floor. The trip took three days, slowed down by deep coulees on the trail. Uncle Ron Rice tells how his father and uncles would have to unload half the lumber from their horse-drawn wagon to climb the steep hills between the farm and the mill. Then they would unload the balance of the lumber at the top of the hill before going back to bring the second half of the load up. Quite an undertaking to get a girl to dance with you!
Debora dreamed of having a Barn like the “Rice Barn,” and when she hit a milestone birthday, she decided it was now or never to make her dreams come true. She began searching for the right property and barn. In early 2017, Debora purchased the “Rattray Homestead” one mile east of Cremona, Alberta. This historic property included a 1915 Eaton’s Catalogue House and a 1904 Historic Barn. This property was homesteaded in 1903 by Jack Rattray and stayed in the Rattray family until the passing of Jack’s son, Grant, in 2014. Neighbour Lynn Reid tells how Jack Rattray worked at the Ottobine Sawmill to earn the lumber to build the barn that stands on the property today. The house “ordered from the Eaton’s Catalogue” came on the train to Carstairs and was picked up by Jack with horse and wagon and brought to the land for construction.
The T.Eaton Co Ltd.
The Eaton’s catalogue was the shopping mall for farm families in the early 1900s, the settlement period of the Canadian prairies. Coveralls for dad, a new dress for mom, and a special Christmas present for the kids, all came from Eaton’s in Winnipeg. The catalogue also supplied almost everything for the house, and, from 1910 to 1932, the house itself.
The house portion of Eaton’s merchandise was a Western Canadian phenomenon only. Houses were advertised only in the Winnipeg catalogue and in special plan books. The advertisements showed Douglas Fir trees, seven feet in diameter and 200 feet to the first limb. The lumber was without knots and came from trees that would not be cut today.
The mail-order house business: A few houses were listed in the catalogue as a teaser. The catalogue advertised free plan books that gave complete details about the houses: an artist’s sketch, floor plan, and information on lumber, doors, windows, flooring, and hardware.
Barn helps Dreams Come True
Founder Debora Rice-Salomons grew up with fond memories of attending the barn dances her Grandparents, Russell & Edna Rice of Torrington, Alberta, held in their big red barn. These dances provided the inspiration for her dream of owning a barn venue. Sadly, her father passed away when she was seven and one of her last memories of him was a dance in the Rice Barn. Throughout her career her dream of a barn wedding and event venue remained strong. Today, through hard work and perseverance, Debora has made her lifelong dream come true. Her goal and vision is to share this special place with families, community members, corporate organizations, and charities so that new memories and dreams will be created in this unique venue in Alberta.
Founder Debora Rice-Salomons
Redefining retirement after a fantastic career in Oil and Gas. Debora’s dream came true when she purchased this 1903 Alberta Homestead and built her Barn Wedding & Event Venue near Calgary, Alberta. Hard work, farm-girl grit and determination made Debora’s dream come true.
After 40 years in the Oil and Gas industry and 30 years of planning, I have made managing The Heritage Centre my full-time career. In January 2017 I took the big leap and made my life long dream a reality by building and opening The Heritage Centre! With a hundred years of history, a hundred years of making memories, The Heritage Centre is a place where dreams come true.