More Than A Barn

Historic Barn Makes Dreams Come True

There is nothing more “AlbertaThere 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.  For Alberta Homesteaders, building a barn was often part of the requirements of gaining the homestead lands under Canada’s “Dominion Lands Act.” As the land was settled, barns dotted the Alberta Landscape and became part of the agricultural history of our Province. But like the stories of our grandparents as time and generations pass, barns like memories fade and begin to disappear. 

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 “#1 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 house is an Eaton’s “two-story four-square home” with verandahs on the east and south sides typical of the 1915 era in Alberta. But it is the Barn that caught Debora’s eye. Years of harsh Alberta Weather had taken a toll on the Rattray barn. The west foundation wall had fallen in, the roof was sagging, and there was three feet of pigeon poop in the loft. With her dream firmly in place, Debora began the barn rescue. Many a local farmer stopped by the barn construction site to check out the work and provide free advice on how the barn should be saved. Economics dictated it would be cheaper to build a new barn than to rescue the historic farm buildings. For Debora, the economics were overruled by her dreams.

The path to her dream of barn dances and hosting events was clearly in her sights. Next was county approvals; engineers; blueprints and budgets and of course plans. Plans to rescue and restore the old barn. Plans to bring back memories of barns past. Plans to dance. Plans for dreams of “a Majestic Historic Barn” to come true. 

Debora had a plan; a good plan; a tough plan. Will it be easy? No! Will it be fun? Yes! Will it be worth it? Abosolutely!

More Than A Venue

Torrington, Alberta – held in their barn.  Sadly, her father passed away when she was seven and one of The Heritage Centre is proof that dreams do 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.  Twirling, dancing, and laughing with her parents and sisters at these dances provided the inspiration for her dream of owning a barn.  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 successful career her dream of a heritage barn event centre 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.  Be it an intimate dinner, family wedding, conference or trade show, charity event or historic tour, the Heritage Centre is the perfect place.  Let our team “Wow” you with our old-fashioned country charm and hospitality!  


Debora Rice-Salomons

I am excited to let you know that after 40 years in the Oil and Gas industry along with many years of organizing and hosting community and charity events, I have made hosting client and in-house events my full-time career.

I spent 30 years planning our venue and after celebrating a major milestone birthday in 2017 I took the big leap and made my life long dream a reality by building and opening The Heritage Centre!

Spending the balance of my career working with happy, fun and super nice people is a pleasure. Working with couples to make their weddings as special as possible, corporate clients to execute successful seminars, conferences and trade shows, along with my favourite passion “Charity Events” at our wondrous venue is simply awesome.