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Restoration of historical Buttermaker House in Markerville, Alta., now complete

Markerville, Alta. -

After six years of hard work, the restoration of a historic country home in the hamlet of Markerville, Alta., is now complete.

The restoration of the Buttermaker House, built in 1913, started back in 2020 and has included lots of help from the community.

The Stephen G. Stephansson Icelandic Society raised funds for the restoration and coordinated with volunteers.

John McKechnie, the society's president, says it was a major undertaking.

"We had to strip it right down to the bare studs for asbestos abatement," he said. "And there was no insulation in the walls, so it's a nice warm house now with R-12 insulation, which is a big upgrade from back in the day."

The restoration project received both municipal and provincial historic designations before it began, which meant there were many guidelines that had to be followed closely.

"There are many things that they deem historic features that we were made to keep," McKechnie said. "Everything from the kitchen cabinets to the baseboards to the windows are all deemed having historic value, and we had to do our construction process around them."

Markerville originated as an Icelandic settlement in the late 1800s and soon became a bustling town that revolved around its creamery.

In 1912, the owner of the creamery, Dan Morkeberg, built a small house across the road from the facility on the bank of the Medicine River.

The house is tiny by today's standards, just 60 square metres.

"They built this house for my grandfather, W. H. Jackson – William Haine Jackson," said Brian Jackson. "He was the first butter maker to arrive in this neck of the woods in Western Canada."

Brian Jackson and his wife Alice helped with the restoration by working on landscaping and donating art and the parlour stove.

Alice also picked out the interior paint finishes in the house.

"Now, whether they were the colors in here or not, I don't know," she said. "But they're historical colors, historical choice…. and they're warm colors."

Karen Scarlett, a local artist, says she remembers the hamlet when she was young.

"Markerville was a hub at the turn of the century," she said. "This is where the activity was, and it got quiet over time, (when the) butter maker went to Innisfail, but I remember coming here tons when I was a kid. There (were) always ball tournaments. We'd come for ice cream on Sunday afternoon after church.

"It's always been a magical little spot."

The Buttermaker House will now see new life as an artist residency.

Scarlett says she hopes the house will attract artists from all over the world.

"I think having something like this locally is pretty exciting," she said.

"I'm looking forward to staying and being in this space and being able to create, but I think also too what it does is, it brings bigger community into our area. More artists that have a bigger worldview, maybe, and can experience our little pocket of the world."

To learn more about Markerville, you can visit the hamlet's website. Top Stories

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