Digital technology preserves historic Swiss Edelweiss village |  news

Digital technology preserves historic Swiss Edelweiss village | news | Pro Club Bd

From mountaineering, hiking and avalanche research to skiing, snowboarding and heli-skiing, Alberta and British Columbia are known worldwide for their rich and adventurous mountain culture, which is certainly a distinctive feature of both provinces.

Almost completely unknown is the fact that the roots of this mountaineering culture can be traced back to the Swiss Edelweiss Village (SEV), which consists of six Swiss Alpine-style chalets built between 1910 and 1912 on a hillside just north of Golden, BC became. Unfortunately these historical treasures are now being sold and threatened with demolition. The National Trust has ranked SEV as one of the 10 most endangered historic sites in Canada.

In an attempt to preserve SEV and promote its historical importance, the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation was educated. While the nonprofit group’s primary goal is to physically preserve SEV, it also pays attention to those of UCalgary Digital Heritage Archive to keep the website digital.

This digital documentation from SEV even includes a virtual tour of the important landmark. This project is led by Dr. Peter Dawson, Head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, and Denis Gadbois, Assistant Professor at the Department of Art and Art History.

“At the turn of the 20th By the end of the 20th century, mountaineering had become popular, especially among wealthy tourists, and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) wanted to encourage it,” says Dr. Ilona Spaar, Co-President of the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation. “In 1896, however, there was a well-publicized climbing death and the CPR recognized the need for professional mountain guides. The problem was, none were found in the Canadian Rockies.”

For this reason, the CPR began bringing Swiss mountain guides to the area to teach safe climbing techniques. Soon these leaders became a fixture in the area, prompting the construction of the SEV as their permanent residence. The village buildings were inspired by the chalets of the Swiss Alps, partly as a marketing strategy.

“With the Swiss theme, the CPR used the village to attract tourists,” says Spaar. “The Swiss mountain guides living there brought new standards and practices to mountaineering. The village can be described as one of the most important birthplaces of modern mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies.”

Still owned by the descendants of the Swiss Guides, the SEV is now up for sale for $2.3 million. Because the village is outside of Golden in a rural district that does not have a heritage statute, it does not have the protection that an officially designated heritage site would have. In these circumstances, any potential buyer could carry the wrecking ball to the historic chalets.

“That’s why our digital archive focuses on heritage sites at the grassroots level,” says Dawson, director of the archives, who has been digitally preserving Alberta’s heritage sites for over a decade using technologies like terrestrial laser scanning.

If a historic site is not given this official seal of significance by government agencies, there is a greater risk of loss as such sites are not protected by law. This creates an even greater urgency. Our mission is to ensure that these pages are preserved digitally and not lost.

This isn’t the first time Dawson has collaborated with Gadbois from the Department of Art. “As an archaeologist, my approach to digital preservation is mostly on the documentation side and more of a clinical process,” he says.

“But Denis looks at digital heritage through a different lens. He took most of the photos needed for the virtual tour of the village and he is more interested in engaging the public by creating an atmosphere, a sense of history, time and place. That requires an artist’s eye and that’s exactly what Denis brings to the project.”

In an email, Gadbois added: “The place and location are rich in history and landscape and deserve all my artistic considerations. This project is the perfect example of an interdisciplinary collaboration between science, history and art.”

In its efforts to save SEV, the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation must first raise $100,000 as a non-refundable deposit to owners, due by July 15, temporarily securing the property. By mid-December, the foundation must have raised the $2.3 million sale price for SEV.

“Some believe that a preserved historical space is something that has to be looked at but not touched,” says Spaar. “On the contrary, our vision for the Swiss Edelweiss Village is to create a truly dynamic heritage space.”

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