After more than four decades volunteering at the Blacksmith Shop Museum and the Lacombe and District Historical Society, Bill the Blacksmith was recognized for long-term leadership and contribution to the preservation of the city’s history.
Local resident Carl William “Bill” Marquardt was given the Outstanding Achievement Award last Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Heritage Awards, which are held every two years.
The awards celebrate individuals and groups alike who play a role in the preservation and promotion of Alberta’s history, with awards presented in five different categories, including Heritage Conservation, Heritage Awareness, Indigenous Heritage, Youth Heritage and Outstanding Achievement.
“We congratulate Bill on his well-deserved award,” said Jennifer Kirchner, city planner and Lacombe and District Historical Society President.
“Volunteers like Bill play a critical role in local heritage preservation in communities like Lacombe. Their contributions and knowledge provide insight into our past and helps form the basis for interpreting our community history.”
Marquardt volunteered for over 40 years with the historical society, working to preserve and interpret the area’s history. According to a release, he played a key role in operating the heritage blacksmith shop – the province’s oldest operating blacksmith shop – in Lacombe, leading public and school tours of the museum, and teaching new generations of volunteers the skills needed to carry on the blacksmithing tradition.
As well, he developed thousands of photograph negatives for the Lacombe and District Historical Society’s archives, so Lacombe’s past could be seen by future generations.
Other awardees with area ties included Don Gillespie, who also received an Outstanding Achievement Award. Gillespie, a once-Stettler grocer, worked to pull together a number of heritage organizations in order to preserve the last original rail laid after the turn of the twentieth century in the province, as well as historic steam locomotives, passenger cars, rail stations and prairie elevators. Included in his preservation efforts are the heritage coaches Lacombe, Tracy, and Sutton, numerous elevators, and much more.