Demolition work started around April on the Michener centre’s north site. The buildings north of 55 Street were constructed in the middle of the last century and were formerly used to house residents with mental disabilities. (Advocate file photo)

Demolition work started around April on the Michener centre’s north site. The buildings north of 55 Street were constructed in the middle of the last century and were formerly used to house residents with mental disabilities. (Advocate file photo)

Keepsake: Bricks from Michener Centre in Red Deer made available to public

Pieces of Red Deer history

One hundred bricks from the demolition of Michener North buildings are being given away as mementos.

The province and the City of Red Deer have set aside the bricks for those who are interested in a piece of Red Deer’s history.

Bricks are available on a first come, first served, basis. Forms for a brick can be filled out online. Recipients will receive directions on how to retrieve their brick by email by Sept. 30.

Demolition of the buildings, expected to cost from $15 to $20 million, started this spring. According to Alberta Infrastructure, the site will later be cleared and seeded with grass. Project activities will involve hazardous material removal and demolition of all buildings, site structures and utilities.

Related:

Demolition of empty buildings is about to begin on Red Deer’s Michener North site

The site has a long past, starting with the construction of the Alberta Ladies College in 1912-13, which was later turned into a sanatorium for shell-shocked soldiers.

In 1923, the province opened an institution for children with mental disabilities, and later a facility for adults.

In the early 1970s, it was home to 2,200 people and hundreds of people worked on site. It was renamed Michener Centre in 1977.

The north end of the parcel has been unoccupied since 2014 when most residents were relocated to the south Michener site, or moved into group homes.

Related:

Michener North site will become part of Red Deer’s park system, says city official

Red Deer historian Michael Dawe said the buildings on the north side date back to the 1950s, and there could be many people who would like a brick memento.

“At one time in Red Deer, probably one out of every five people either lived at Michener Centre or worked at Michener Centre. It’s a huge component of the community. You’re talking about thousands of people having some connection to it,” Dawe said.

He said at its peak Michener had about 2,800 residents and probably just as many staff. Some would have worked there for their entire careers.

Dawe said having a place like Michener meant Red Deerians got to know the residents and they became friends unlike in other communities where people could be afraid or intolerant of those with developmental disabilities.

“Familiarity creates a level of acceptance and understanding so I always thought that was a big asset to Red Deer.”

To request a brick visit: www.reddeer.ca/whats-happening/michener-centre-north-land-demolition.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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