How a shed capable of holding 70 tonnes of coal was lost and found in Alberta

EDMONTON — An entire shed that had been more or less lost on Alberta’s prairies for three decades is found.

In recent years, the shed had served as a pig barn and then storage space on the Fentons’ farm in Lamont County east of Edmonton.

Gail and her husband had relocated it there in 1988, unaware of the building’s historical significance.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

But when the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village recently sent a historian to look over a barn they were thinking about donating, the shed’s faded “CO” lettering caught his eye.

“He says, ‘You know this is one we’ve been looking for for years?'” Gail Fenton recalled.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

Though the rest of the giant painted word had weathered away over the years, the building’s side once read “COAL,” visible from dozens of metres away.  

According to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, the Lamont Alberta Lumber Company built the shed around 1920 when it began selling coal to make money in the winter.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

The Alberta Lumber Company coal shed, as well as the United Grain Growers elevator and flour shed, is visible in the background of a photo of Ernest and Alvira Radke taken in 1936. (Courtesy: Friends of the Ukrainian Village Society)

Capable of holding 70 tonnes of coal, the shed was built by a local resident, Alec McQueen, alongside the railroad tracks near the United Grain Growers in Lamont.

“It’s almost like fitting a missing piece of a puzzle back together,” said Gordon Yaremchuk, executive director of the Friends of the Ukrainian Village Society.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, an outdoor museum 40 kilometres east of Edmonton on Highway 16, moved the Alberta Lumber Company’s main office and lumber shed in the 1980s. In the early 2000s, the company’s cement shed was added as well.

“This one sort of fell under the radar and it sort of disappeared,” Yaremchuk said.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

That is, however, until it was reunited with its shed family Tuesday morning following a 30-kilometre move across Lamont County to the Ukrainian village.

Yaremchuk’s group is fundraising to pay for the $10,000 operation, as well as the shed’s restoration.

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

“The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village portrays Alberta’s history and considering this one was a missing piece of a larger picture, the village is as of yet, not quite complete.”

Alberta Lumber Company coal shed

“They have all the other buildings,” Fenton added.

“I think it’s going to bring so much more to the village once it’s open.”

The shed’s restoration timeline is dependent on its fundraising success.

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