NOBLEFORD CULTIVATORS BUILDING
The historical significance of the Nobleford Cultivators Building lies in its direct association with Charles Noble (1873 – 1957), one of the most successful dry-land farmers in Western Canada, and inventor of the ‘Noble Blade’, an internationally renowned technological innovation in dry-land farming. It is also significant for its association with the manufacture and distribution of the Noble Blade.
In 1909, Charles Noble acquired several sections of land south of Kehoe Lake. The rise in grain prices during the First World War helped him prosper and acquire more lands. He won several world grain championships between 1912 and 1916, and by 1917 Noble was managing the largest farming operation in the area. At the end of the war, the Noble Foundation (as it was known) held 30,000 acres and employed up to 300 people, making it one of the largest dry-land farms in the British Empire. With the farming operation, he also sold horses, managed a real estate firm, operated a butcher shop, and a farm implement dealership.
In his spare time, Noble began experimenting with different approaches to dry-land farming, including different varieties of grain, crop rotation, strip farming, and the use of a protective ‘trash cover’ of vegetation left on the soil. In 1936, while experimenting in his farm machine shop near Nobleford, and working with the scientists at the Lethbridge Research Station, Noble invented the ‘Noble Blade’ a v-shaped plow blade that permitted weeding without removing the trash cover. Through its use, and with other improved techniques in farm management, Alberta farmers were able to partially recover from the devastating Great Depression.
The building in Nobleford, although not the birthplace of the Noble Blade, is the earliest remaining evidence associated with it. The building housed its manufacture and distribution of the blade and was the firm’s main office from 1942 to 1951. In many ways it is typical of the kind of buildings erected throughout the province at the time, to serve various commercial, industrial, and recreational purposes. After Nobel Blade production was relocated to a new facility several years later, space was used as a granary, chicken barn, and then a warehouse.
The Village of Nobleford approached Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc. in 2001 to rehabilitate the building into a new Village Municipality office and to also include a museum at the back of the building. An intensive heritage survey was undertaken and soon after rehabilitation work began. The Noble Cultivators Building was designated a provincial historic resource in July 2002. The rehabilitation work was completed in the summer of 2004.