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  /  House of the West

House of the West

Date: Sept. 20 – two tours

First: 11:00-1:00 p.m.

Second: 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Location: Ghost Lake, Alberta
Venue: The Canadian Museum of Making & The Rock House at Carriag Ridge.

The House of the West tour begins at the MUSEUM OF THE MAKING, a privately owned underground museum hidden in the foothills. The Canadian Museum of Making is a collection of machines and tools that live at the intersection of engineering and art, exhibited in a unique series of buildings at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, telling the stories about the people who created and used them.

What began as a personal project to save intriguing machinery and tools found in local shops has grown into a renowned collection focusing on the preservation and restoration of the mechanical wonders from the Industrial Revolution in Canada, Great Britain and the United States. Continually expanding, the museum’s collection now includes African metalwork; a working Linotype machine; one of the most comprehensive collections of steam indicators in the world; vehicular curiosities, including one of the world’s first electric cars; and a well-maintained library of relevant texts. The Museum’s newest project is the acquisition and restoration of machinery from the early history of oilfields in Alberta. The goal is to create a comprehensive, outdoor walking exhibit, featuring the most representative and iconic equipment that formed the oil industry we see today.

The Museum built its own forge for on-site restorations as well as to preserve and share the traditional methods of making everyday items from metal. Japheth Howard, the resident blacksmith at the Canadian Museum of Making, learned his craft while travelling and working around the world, like the journeymen of the past. His level of skill and creativity are unique in North America.

In addition to a focus on forging, the wood shop, mechanics shop, and machine shop allow the Museum to make almost anything and to restore acquisitions that might otherwise be abandoned. By keeping its work to a very high standard, the Museum pays homage to a time when art and engineering worked side by side and beauty was considered an essential part of every man-made object.

The tour will then take you to the CARRAIG RIDGE development and the first house, the ROCK HOUSE, a 750 square foot house that won Wallpaper magazine’s Best Cabin in the 2017 design awards and is continuing to receive international attention and accolades. The Rock House is the first of 44 homes within Carraig Ridge, an environmentally conscious housing development in the Alberta foothills. Homes at Carraig Ridge prioritize integration with the natural landscape; ecological designs and construction methods; and world-class architecture. By concentrating the houses on smaller lots within the overall property, Carraig Ridge is able to place an additional 2,000 acres of land under conservation easement, to be protected from development in perpetuity.

The Rock House is a one room cabin at Carraig Ridge designed by James Cutler of Cutler Anderson Architects in Seattle. After walking the 660-acre site, the architect and the owner selected a notch along the lichen-covered sandstone ridge running north-south. The topography was the driving factor of the design: the cabin fits softly into the notch, which frames views of the Rocky Mountains in Banff.

The design also sought to build minimally: to build not what one can, but what one needs. The open floorplan is divided into a living area and sleeping area, separated by a glass-ceilinged bathroom. The east wall is board-formed concrete to a height of 7 feet with glass above. The west wall is floor to ceiling glass, following the footprint of the ridge. The living area is in the opening of the ridge, allowing long views to the west, while a rise in the ridge provides privacy for the sleeping area. Above, the Douglas Fir framed roof is lifted up by four galvanized steel columns and beams.

Approaching from the rear along a path through a grove of aspen and evergreens, there is a single door in the concrete wall. Passing through the door and entering the cabin, a dramatic landscape is revealed. Floor to ceiling windows frame the rolling prairie falling away to the West, rising into a forest along the horizon, beyond which loom the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Deer, elk, eagles, owls, and partridges are frequent visitors. Night skies are dark and full of stars.

The Rock House was largely built by one person: Doug Newell, a former blacksmith-turned-carpenter who took great care during construction to preserve and protect the surrounding landscape. The material palette of the Rock House consists of board-formed concrete, Douglas Fir boards and beams, galvanized steel, zinc, and glass. The structural steel columns and beams were processed and additional fittings and details forged at the facilities at the Canadian Museum of Making. Railings and other interior details were designed with and forged by Japheth Howard, the resident blacksmith at the museum.

DETAILS: Upon your arrival at the destination about an hour northwest of the city of Calgary, you’ll enjoy first, a guided exploration of the Canadian Museum of the Making and then a short trip further, a visit to the Rock House where you’ll be granted a tour of the award-winning house, and take in the amazing views, while enjoying a small bite and beverage. You have a choice of two start times to keep our groups small.


Ticket Price: $30.00 plus GST

Ticket TypePriceCart
House of the West - 11 AM Start$30Tickets are sold out.
House of the West - 12 PM Start$30Tickets are sold out.