How do you move a two-storey, 45-tonne building 50 kilometres across a major highway? Ask Jim Nakonechny, senior restoration officer for Alberta Culture. This summer, he oversaw the move of the historic 1915 home of former premier Ed Stelmach‘s grandparents, Nykola and Theodora Stelmach, from the original site near Andrew, Alta., to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.
The relocation took weeks of planning and consulting with various county officials so they could lift power lines when the huge structure crossed certain intersections. Now, the home sits in the village’s back 40, where it will undergo a three-year restoration. The goal is to complete it in time for the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Alberta.
The home has a mix of traditional Ukrainian design and Canadian architectural ideas. You’d never see a two-storey home in traditional Ukrainian villages, according to Nakonechny. But you would have seen the passive solar heating and cooling techniques used in the Stelmach home a hundred years before the terms were in our vernacular.
Clay plaster between the logs holds heat in, while the roof overhang shades the home in the summer. “They’ve been using these sustainable methods for years,” he says, “And now, people think they’re new.”