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Canada’s largest living history museum is constantly growing and improving, but the people behind the attraction are what make it special.

Heritage Park is one of the best places to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the west. Canada’s largest living history museum focuses on Canadian western history from the 1860s to the 1930s. The park has over 180 exhibits spread over 127 acres of land and friendly, costumed interpreters who bring that history to life. Behind the scenes are many others who work tirelessly to ensure that every park visitor has an opportunity to truly connect with history and have fun while doing it.

Heritage park prospect ridge tour, Calgary.

When Jim Heaton visited Heritage Park as a young boy in 1964, the year the park opened, he never imagined that he would someday work there as a Public Programming Specialist. And he never would have guessed how rewarding the job would be. Heaton works to develop interpretive programs for the park and trains volunteers.

There are many things that Heaton appreciates about his job. Discovering and sharing fun facts about artifacts in the Heritage Park collection is particularly rewarding. For example, he enjoys showing people the 1936 Cord 810 in the Gasoline Alley Museum, because it was aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s favourite car.

“I love working with the public and watching their faces when they learn something new,” says Heaton, who has been working at Heritage Park since 2006. “The people here are amazing and our volunteers are truly remarkable. We have over 400 volunteers in our volunteer ambassador program.”

Working at a living history museum during a pandemic has had its challenges, but Heaton and other staff have helped Heritage Park evolve to meet and exceed ever-changing health guidelines.

“On the positive note, I haven’t had a cold in a year-and-a-half,” Heaton says with a laugh. “The park is very well sanitized. We have instituted separate entrances and exits for our heritage buildings, and our costuming department has been hard at work making sure that our park ambassadors have masks that match their outfits.”

Staff at the park plan to continue wearing masks even after provincial guidelines ease – at least until they are certain that guests and staff members are feeling safe.

Looking to the future

Growing and changing over the years makes the park interesting, even for visitors who have been there many times before.


Heritage Park is popular with visitors because what we offer is unique in Canada as an immersive experience – so we are a key piece of the product puzzle that can anchor multi-day tourists in Calgary. We intend to continue to develop our diverse experiences into a world-class destination.

Lindsey Galloway, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Heritage Park Society

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Heritage Park has done just that. This summer the park opened a brand-new area called Prospect Ridge. This unique section of the park focuses on natural resources, paying homage to early energy innovators. It features exhibits like the Dingman Discovery Oil Well, a warden’s cabin, a working water wheel, and more.

Guests can also get into the spirit of the upcoming municipal election by experiencing a fictionalized 1910 civic election campaign – thanks in large part to the work of Heaton and the rest of the team responsible for interpretive programming. There are also new foods to try like picnic kits from Gunn’s Dairy Barn, milkshakes at Harvey’s Confectionary, and personal pizzas at Shephard Station.

Since its humble beginning in 1964, Heritage Park has been constantly growing and improving to preserve the past and bring it alive. It’s a recipe for success that the Heritage Park Society intends to continue going forward.

“There’s always something new to see and do at Heritage Park,” Heaton says. “The park is a fun escape and an essential part of Calgary’s history. It’s important to keep history alive.”

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