To take a close look at the history and people of Alberta (a component of the grade four social studies curriculum), our class visited The Heritage Centre on the site of the Rattray Homestead.
We began with an exploration of the old hip roof barn where we were able examine the remnants of the knob and tube electric wiring and imagine what it would have been like a hundred years ago with horses, sweaty from a day’s work in the fields, stamping impatiently on the wood floor as they waited for the oats to be poured into their feed toughs. You could picture, in your mind’s eye, the harnesses, smelling of damp leather, hung on the wooden harness brackets by the stalls. Hanging upstairs in the loft is an intact block and tackle which was used for heavy lifts into the loft. We will be experimenting with our own block and tackle system during our Wheels and Levers science unit.
Outside, the students were able to try on a horse collar and see hames and strapping off an old harness. A short walk took us to the row of old machinery which included a dump rake, an old seed drill and a couple of plows. We discussed how much more difficult and time consuming farm work would have been back then in contrast to today. Students were fascinated with the idea of ordering a house through the catalogue and having it arrive, in pieces, on the train as the beautiful old home was. The children were able to see how the interior of old houses were finished with narrow strips of wood called lathe nailed horizontally across wall studs. The lathe was then coated with plaster for a smooth finish. Upstairs in the house we looked out of the southeast bedroom window towards the sight of old Cremona where a store/post office and a high school, in what had previously been a cheese factory, once stood. In the cellar we were able to see the coal room where coal had been emptied through the coal chute to be stored for burning for winter heat. There was even a couple of lumps of coal left from years past. We would like to thank Deb, from The Heritage Centre, for allowing us this opportunity for such a rich emersion into a part of Alberta’s history.