Happy 100th, (former) Village of Bow City.

Bow City: the panoramic view on the eve of incorporation, 1914.
Bow City: the panoramic view prior to incorporation, 1913-14.

Notice is hereby given, in accordance with the provision of the Village Act in that behalf that, by order of the Minister if Municipal Affairs in the following area; namely: North-east quarter of Section 9 and the west half of Section 10 in Township 17 Range 17 west of the Fourth Meridian has been erected a Village under the name of the Village of Bow City of the Province of Alberta.

Dated at Edmonton this Thirteenth day of July 1914.
JNO. PERRIE,
Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs

With the above notice, which appeared on p.692 of the 1914 Alberta Gazette v. 10, a collection of domiciles, shacks and commercial establishments scattered across 800 acres of barren prairie was organized into the Village of Bow City.

Effective July 13, 1914, Bow City’s incorporation as a village, for a brief time, offered hope for boosters and believers alike that their schemes and dreams centred around a coal mine in the dried-out middle of nowhere would be realized.

Although the village hung on for over three-and-a-half years, its fate was in question within weeks of the above proclamation. Undercut by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, and unable to secure a railroad, the Village of Bow City never stood a chance.

What did Bow City look like on the eve of incorporation? The following images provide a glimpse into the village born unlucky:

A map of the community of Bow City as it existed in May 1914. Click on image to view larger map.
A map of the community of Bow City as it existed in May 1914, based on files from the Dept. of Municipal Affairs. (Click image for larger view)

The Bow City Trading Company store, Bow City, Alberta c.1913.
The original Bow City Trading Company store, Bow City, Alberta.
A crowd mills around the Bow City Hotel in 1914, the hub of activity in the village until 1915, when it burned to the ground.
A crowd mills around the Bow City Hotel, the hub of activity in the ramshackle village until 1915, when it burned to the ground.
It must have been Sunday. A family-friendly scene, this time in front of the Bow City Supply Co., owned by the Campbell Bros.
It must have been Sunday. Families in their finest pose in front of the Bow City Supply Co., the Bow City Hotel looming in the background.

Knowing what we know today, it’s a remarkable a village grew up in this location in the first place. Although a hamlet of the same name in the County of Newell exists to this date, the footprint of the village, situated in Vulcan County south of the Bow River, is nearly indiscernible today:

This old foundation, sits on what is now Crown grazing lease on the townsite of the former Village of Bow City. (April 2007)
Snuggled against the fence line north of Highway 539, this foundation is about the only evidence you will find of a settlement at Bow City, south of the Bow. (April 2007)
Abandoned home in downtown Bow City.
The old Corkish place, now abandoned, in “downtown” Bow City. Although situated within the  original townsite, adjacent location of the former Hotel, the landowner informs me the home was constructed long after the village had disappeared.
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