In 2020, as part of the Town’s Arts and Learning Campus project, and in keeping with the Town's commitment to provide quality infrastructure, Okotoks Town Council approved that a play space be installed at Ethel Tucker Centennial Park. The park is located near the former public library building in downtown Okotoks and is incorporated into the Arts and Learning Campus (click button to see image of area).
Ethel Tucker Centennial Park Play Space
Town residents were invited to provide input on Ethel Tucker Centennial Park play space project through an online survey by selecting one of two animal choices and associated narratives to support the concept. The survey launched on February 1 and closed on February 15.
A total of 267 people provided their preference for the design of the upgrade. The results of the survey have indicated that, out of the two design options provided, design 2 (“The Buffalo”) received the most support. Of the 267 respondents, 70.79% selected option 2 and 29.21% selected option 1 (“The Ground Squirrel”).
To review the What We Heard report, click the button below.
We have received two design options that thoughtfully incorporate historical significance and emphasize the story of the Okotoks area. The designs have been prepared with input from the Indigenous artist and an Indigenous elder and educator on the project team, and are supported by the Town's Indigenous partners. A descendant of Okotoks’ historic figure Ethel Tucker has also provided input on, and support of, this project.
The designs, which both include specific art, nature and challenge themed elements and components, are now available for review by clicking the buttons below. For additional project information, please review the Frequently Asked Questions.
To take the survey to select your preferred option, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Option 1 Designs - Ground Squirrel
Click "play" button to watch video on option 1.
In order to celebrate the ancient story of Napi and the Ohkotok, the playable art piece proposed by the designers imagines a time long before the Ohkotok Rock chased Napi through the foothills, crushing the ground squirrels who attempted to help Napi and reducing their size in the process. A wooden, climbable sculpture will depict the ground squirrel as tall, careless and playful as it used to be before being shrunk down to the small size we know it to be today. The ground squirrel will be a celebration of peace, allowing children and their families to approach and engage in playful activities with him.
Option 2 Designs - Buffalo
Click "play" button to watch video on option 2.
As a celebration of the wild buffalo that once freely roamed the Foothills region, the new play space will include a combined wood-and-boulder piece that will portray the buffalo featured in the ancient story of Napi and the Ohkotok. The buffalo was one of several beings that agreed to help Napi in stopping the large rock from chasing him. While the buffalo was unsuccessful in stopping the Ohkotok, the valor and strength it embodies in the story will be displayed here as a large wood sculpture butting its head against a large boulder, representing the confrontation between the buffalo and the Ohkotok.
*Note that whatever option is ultimately selected, the components of the rubbing stone, stepping logs and pictographs will be provided with each concept.
Please take the survey, available from February 1-15, by clicking the button below. Choose either design option 1 or 2. The preferred design will be shared in the What We Heard Report the week of February 21. Thank you for your input!
Through Arts and Learning Campus stakeholder consultation in March 2021, it was identified that the Town should provide an area that incorporates an art and nature-themed play space, with some challenge components. The footprint of the new play space area slightly larger than the play space of the original Ethel Tucker Centennial Park.
With the play space theme direction confirmed, the Town put out a Request for Proposal for playground elements in August 2021 and the tender was awarded. Supporting the consultant are Indigenous partners, advisors and artists as well as a descendant of Okotoks’ historic figure Ethel Tucker.
This project will also include the installation of a series of peace poles, a project that the Town has been considering for some time, adjacent to the play space. Peace poles are often handcrafted monuments that displays the message May Peace Prevail on Earth in multiple languages to accommodate the cultural diversity of a region, past & present. The peace poles will be predominantly constructed using the salvaged 18 beams from the 1897 Lineham Lumber Company barn (formerly the Creamery building) that burned down in 2015.
The two projects were combined with the intention to create an aesthetic, stylistic and thematic link, with integrated messaging. The ultimate goal is to create a gathering space where people will want to meet, picnic, play, rest and reflect. This project will help tell the larger story of this site and of Okotoks.
Learn more by clicking the button below.
History of this Area and Significance to Project
The Foothills region is important in relation to Indigenous peoples who lived in this area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of settlers. The name Okotoks was adapted from the Blackfoot word “Ohkatok” meaning “rock.” Ohkatok references the Big Rock glacial erratic that rests seven kilometres west of town. Beyond being a Provincial Historic Resource, Ohkatok is a site of spiritual importance to the Blackfoot peoples, and the story of the arrival of Ohkatok as it chased Napi the trickster continues to be told in oral tradition. In addition, “the Sarcee called this area ‘chachosika’ meaning valley of the big rock. The Stoney name is ‘ipabitunga-ingay’ meaning ‘where the big rock is’”. In particular, Plains First Nations and Blackfoot peoples sought safe river crossings and they recognized the Arts and Learning Campus area for providing them.
The project area is also the original location of the Lineham Lumber Company sawmill. Established in 1891 by John Lineham, the lumber company was a mainstay of the local economy for 25 years. At one time, it employed 100 people and produced an average of 30,000 feet of lumber per day, partly to satisfy the Canadian Pacific Railway's demand for railway ties. Logs were harvested on timber leases in the foothills during the winter and then floated down the Sheep River during spring run-off to the company's sawmill in Okotoks. In 1897, the Lineham Lumber Company constructed a horse barn for use by their lumber mill. Irreparably damaged during a 2015 fire, this historic building was subsequently demolished.