The Heritage Centre is a Unique Venue in Alberta 

More Than A Barn 


The Heritage Centre 1904 Barn was the first building block for this unique venue in 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. 

For Alberta Homesteaders, building a barn was often part of the requirements of gaining their 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. 

The poster tells the story of the Rice Barn Dances so important to Debora's dream of owning a unique venue in Alberta
1946 Rice Barn Dance Poster from the Trochu Tribune

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.

Russel Rice was a dreamer like Debora Rice-Salomons, Heritage Centre Owner.  He dreamed of meeting women.  She dreamed of people coming together to make dreams come true.
Russell Rice, grandfather of Debora Rice-Salomons The Heritage Centre Owner

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 Heritage Centre Property was homesteaded by Jack Rattray.  in 1904 he built the barn.  His family was the only people to ever live on the Heritage Centre property.
Picture of Jack Rattray – The man who homesteaded the Heritage Centre property in 1904 and built the barn in 1904.


The Heritage Home located on the Heritage Centre propety was purchased by the original homesteader Jack Rattray from T.Eaton Co.  Hew would have selected his home from a "Plan Book" like this one.
Eaton’s Catalogue Home Plan Book.


Before E-Commerce  Canadian Mail Order Houses

Our Heritage Home is an Eaton’s “two-story four-square home” with verandahs on the east and south sides typical of the 1915 era in Alberta.  However, 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 restoration. 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 restore 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!

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

Owner and Manager Debora Rice-Salomons

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.