Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Timothy Scarlett

Advisor 2

Melissa Baird

Committee Member 1

Gregory Waite

Committee Member 2

Mark Rhodes


The Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic Site preserves an industrial landscape on the southern prairies of western Canada. The district contains 150 acres of industrial heritage, including a brick plant, two intact pottery factories, the remnants of two other clay products plants, a raw material manufacturer, and a rail spur line interconnecting these industries. In June 2013, the province of Alberta experienced a devastating flood resulting in damages exceeding 5 billion dollars. In Medicine Hat, floodwaters inundated over 39,000 sq. ft. of historic resources, altering the cultural landscape, and damaging most of the archaeological sites. This flood was one in a long history of disasters contributing significantly to the changes seen in this heritage district over time. To date, in-place emergency protocols and preservation policies impede heritage protection; these policies are notably incongruous, despite a robust historic designation.

This dissertation examines how to prioritize heritage against flooding and demonstrate how heritage designations guarantee neither protection nor priority of response. I will explain how heritage “values” underpin the protection and the development of preparedness strategies for at-risk industrial heritage resources through the establishment of a heritage vulnerability community profile. Heritage districts are vulnerable to disasters because of complicated ownership frameworks, multijurisdictionality, inventory, interpretation of risk, and who is involved in protecting heritage before, during, and after an event. Heritage values inform and frame the resources considered the critical heritage infrastructure; they also create barriers to the development of effective disaster planning. Drawing on qualitative and historical methods, archival tools and document analysis, this dissertation illustrates how heritage valuation, assigned to tangible heritage, directs preservation, programming, and influences a community’s ability to develop disaster planning.

Archaeologists are critical assets within disaster planning, conservation, and have vested interest in protecting heritage value. By understanding how values contribute to the development and reuse of industrial heritage districts we can identify the challenges associated with protecting tangible heritage against unforeseen events. This dissertation contributes unique insights into how heritage valuation may interfere with disaster planning and response development. By incorporating archaeological methods alongside conservation planning, we can assign priority and strengthen disaster protocol. Industrial heritage districts contain vast inventories of resources that may exist at various levels of disrepair. Assigning priority allows a community to decide how to protect and recover essential heritage first.

Available for download on Saturday, August 05, 2023