In 2018, the Town of Okotoks began a significant project to formally recognize and conserve its heritage and valued historic buildings, parks and cultural landscapes. This process resulted in the Municipal Heritage Designation Program, designed to provide the “tools needed to identify, protect and celebrate Okotoks’ rich and diversity heritage” and the processes necessary to ensure preservation of its historical buildings and landscapes.
The community’s natural and built environment have rich stories to tell: the geological and biological legacy of its natural setting in the Sheep River Valley; the significant indigenous pre-contact places like the Big Rock and the Old North Trail; the frontier period when the trail became a cart route between mounted police forts, and Okotoks an important stopping place and river crossing; the residential, town infrastructure and industrial growth of the settlement period following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s south branch with notable businesses like the Lineham Lumber Company; stories in architectural design and craftsmanship from the turn of the century to the post-war era; and many others.
At present, a number of historic buildings have been conserved and celebrated through the adaptive re-use for community and tourist enjoyment such as the Okotoks Museum and Archives, Rotary Performing Arts Centre and Okotoks Art Gallery. Each of these buildings has a history, a story and a community use that has established a “sense of place” and character for Okotoks, including the three Provincial Registered Historic Resources in the Old Lineham House, Mahon House and Stockton Block (Okotoks Town Hall). The investment in these historic resources have established, evolved and ultimately, created a unique “sense of place” by contributing to the liveliness and success of the town as it grows.