Central Albertans who want to move and preserve Red Deer’s historic Scout Hut can submit proposals to the City of Red Deer.
Wade Martens, land co-ordinator for the city, wants to hear from individuals or groups willing to take over responsibility for the 84-year-old log cabin, and remove it from the property: “We are reaching out to the community.”
The formerly city-owned land that the Scout Hut sits on, 5321-47 Ave., was recently sold to the next door Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter for expansion of its facility.
While moving the cabin a few blocks south to join other historic buildings in Heritage Park “is a possibility,” Martens said a private group would have to undertake the project.
He believes it could be tricky because the foundation logs have deteriorated. “There is some fire damage and some small animal intrusions. I don’t think it could be recovered or rebuilt without significant effort and cost.”
The Scout Hut was constructed in 1937 as a meeting hall for scouts and rover patrols. It has not been used since the ‘80s and is not officially a “historically significant” site in the city’s Land Use Bylaw.
A 2019 city historical evaluation found the Scout Hut had not retained the character-defining elements needed “to communicate its significance.”
But city councillor and local historian Michael Dawe has questioned this, noting the hut contains a plaque recognizing a 1930s visit from Canada’s then chief scout, John Buchan — Canada’s Governor General from 1935-40 and author of the adventure novel The 39 Steps — embedded in the fireplace mantle.
Several central Albertans have already expressed interest in having it moved onto private land, but Martens said no formal proposal has yet been discussed.
Anyone interested in taking on the hut’s removal and ongoing maintenance can email the city at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martens doesn’t yet know the timeline for the women’s shelter expansion, but the Scout Hut would have to be moved before construction starts.
He added the city will then erect a commemorative plaque at the site to acknowledge the long history of the Scout Hut.
Canada’s former governor general, Roland Michener, was among the boys who joined the first generation of Red Deer scouts in 1911. That troop — which also included Philip Galbraith, the son of Red Deer’s first mayor and Advocate publisher, Kenneth Galbraith — made a heroic mark by helping capture a fugitive who tried to kill the local police chief.
Dawe previously recounted how that real-life adventure story made it into news services across Canada and the globe.
Preston Parks, who was a Boy Scout in the 1940s (his father had been a Scout in the ’20s, and his sons joined up in the 1970s) said he would love to see the hut moved to Heritage Park as a reminder of Red Deer’s illustrious scouting history.
But the 88-year-old doesn’t have the energy to take on the project.
Preserving the actual building is preferable to having one more historic plaque, added Parks. “But (the city) has no idea of anything that is old…”