Sunday, December 21, 2014

Turcott/CIBC building moves to new home at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village

Turcott/CIBC building at its new KBPV home
C. Davis photos and videos
Chris Davis

The Pincher Creek and District Historical Society (PCDHS) has successfully added the 108 year-old Turcott/CIBC building to the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village (KBPV) collection of historic Pincher Creek buildings.

Turcott/CIBC building move

Interview with KBPV Curator Farley S. Wuth

Interview with PCDHS President Colleen Cyr

It's a two-story structure approximately 28-30 feet high with a 30' x 40' footprint.  It was donated to PCDHS by the owner with the condition it be removed from its Hewetson Avenue location.  PCDHS enlisted the help of Wade's House Movers to effect the move.  Wade's is a southern Alberta company with over five decades of heavy hauling experience.  They've been featured on HGTV's reality show Massive Moves, and a new reality show called Cabin Truckers is in production.  The Turcott/CIBC move will be the subject of an episode of that show, which is scheduled to launch in early 2015.  To that end, a production crew visited the building at its Hewetson Avenue site on December 10 for a tour of the interior, establishing shots, and interviews with PCDHS President Colleen Cyr and KBPV Curator Farley S. Wuth, and then returned to document the move itself using conventional cameras and a gopro mounted on a quadcopter.

Cyr later explained that Wade's House Moving did the move at about a third of their regular cost.  Interestingly, it was the second time the company moved the building.  In 1989 the company, then known as Kerner's House Moving, moved it from the Main Street location to the Hewetson Avenue location. Kelly Kerner "was the grunt" 25 years ago, and this time "he's the boss", according to Cyr.  His father the late Joe Kerner was the boss last time.

In July of this year PCDHS approached Pincher Creek's Town council for zoning permission and easements. Adjacent neighbours to the site proposed by PCDHS were opposed to having such a large structure across the street from their homes, and Colleen Cyr proposed a different site instead, which seems to have met with general approval. The building now sits on a basement foundation east of the Beere Hall (which served for years as the KBPV administration building) where another building, the Union Bank, recently moved by PCDHS, was located.  That structure has been moved further east on the KBPV grounds, to an area utilised in recent winters as an outdoor rink.

On December 17 the building was lifted from its foundation and loaded onto a girder assembly supported with with hydraulic-lift tires in preparation for the move the next day.  On the morning of December 18 it set out for the 5 block journey to the KBPV grounds, with Fortis and Shaw crews working ahead and behind the move to lower and then reattach lines.  It went very smoothly, but the final step of putting it onto its new foundation took a long time and was finished the next morning, December 19.  December 18 was also the date of the KBPV Christmas party, and the large volunteer and staff base responsible for making KBPV's end of the move happen had much to celebrate.  The building is now one of the focal points of the commercial district exhibit on the grounds, sharing a common area as it does with the Cyr House, the Beere Hall, the automotive exhibits, and the Co-op and bakery exhibits still under construction.

Colleen Cyr explained that there were no set plans for the use of the building just yet, because PCDHS leapt at the opportunity to acquire it and focused on that and the work required to move it in the time allotted.  "We didn't go out looking for it, so we didn't have a need for this building, but yet the need when you have a historic building like this is, you need to get it before it's destroyed."

The previous owner originally wanted the structure moved by September.  Since then Cyr said many KBPV volunteers spent many hours during the regular Wednesday work bees and at other times to get the site ready and to arrange the move.  "800 hours of volunteer labour went into getting this building here."  She anticipates the building will be restored to its original condition, with the modern siding removed and the original siding refurbished.  Much of the modernization work done to the interior is likely to be removed so the interior can be restored to its historical condition as well.


According to Farley Wuth, the prefabricated building was transported by rail to Pincher City (now Pincher Station) and then hauled to the corner of Main Street and East Avenue in 1906 for the Pincher Creek Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. According to Wuth it is one of almost fifty similar buildings built by the Bank of Commerce across the Canadian Prairies at the time, and is one of the few such structures still in existence. During discussion with Pincher Creek Town Council Councillor Wayne Elliott said it is exactly like the CIBC building in Rockyford.  The bank occupied the main floor and there were living quarters for the manager on the second floor.

Partially visible in background (left) as MD of Pincher Creek building
From KBPV archives
The bank closed in 1934, at which time the building was sold to the Municipal District of Robert Kerr for $2000. The MD of Robert Kerr was then the municipality south of Pincher Creek. In 1944 it merged with the MD of Castle River and the MD of Livingstone to form the MD of Pincher Creek, which continued to occupy the building until 1964. The MD of Kerr and the MD of Pincher Creek successively occupied the west side of the main floor of the building. The law offices of Jackson and Carswell, Carswell and Butterworks, and finally Turcott and Company occupied the east side of the main floor.  The MD of Pincher Creek vacated after  purchasing the Kettles Street building in 1964 (which it vacated for a new building late last year), and the building was purchased by Turcott and Company, which continued to use it until 1989 when it was purchased by a Lethbridge based architectural firm and moved to the Hewetson Avenue location.  Most recently the building was home to the Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative (SASCI), who vacated in late 2011.

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