Bow City getting village status historical marker

Good news everyone! From the Brooks Bulletin, intrepid scribe Rob Brown informs the masses that the Province of Alberta has approved Vulcan County’s application for a historical marker at the site of the former Village of Bow City (reproduced below).

A big thank you is owed to Liza Dawber and Vulcan County for their work approving and submitting the Heritage Marker application, and the community partners who supported the application.

Bow City getting village status historical marker

Just in time for next week’s 100th anniversary of becoming a village, Bow City has been awarded a historical marker noting the fact.
On July 13, 1914 Bow City was incorporated as a village.

Last week, Jonathan Koch, an avid historian working on the recognition project, said the province notified him a marker is forthcoming.

He says it is important to recognize the past.

“We certainly do run the risk of losing our history if these aren’t marked and people aren’t doing the work,” he says.

As a descendant of the area – Koch was born and raised in Brooks – he finds an affinity for southeastern Alberta history. His blog, Forgotten Alberta is a virtual treasure trove of the undiscovered in the area.

He said the work in getting the historical marker involved a handful of organizations and groups.

He said many don’t know the history of Bow City – and what was initially planned for the area.

“I know even myself I was surprised to learn the village was on the south side of the river, not where the hamlet currently exists.”
In 1910, an initial survey of the north half of 9-17-17 W4 was undertaken by J.F. Hamilton, a Lethbridge land surveyor.

The plan envisioned a townsite bounded by a “proposed Government Park” to the north, and Railway Avenue to the south, running alongside the proposed Bow City Collieries Railway from east to west.

Departing from the traditional C.P.R. grid design of the time, roadways would radiate in eight directions from the town centre, bearing names such as Bow City Avenue, Park Boulevard, and on the river bottom along the Bow River, the aptly named Riverside Drive. Bow City Collieries Ltd. promoted the “uniformity in the survey of the town” as “one of the most attractive features present in the townsite of Bow City.”

He believes the history of Bow City is intertwined with the area.

“It was a substantial community and is part of our past. There was a promise growing from that settlement. It peaked at about 125 people in 1914. It was incorporated with a big future in mind, then rail development simply went further south and communities like Vauxhall, Retlaw and Enchant started to pop up and drew people away from Bow City,” he says.

He says the marker will be placed in an appropriate spot – within the former village boundary at its peak size on a section and a half of land overlooking the river.

“You have to know what you’re looking for, but the former village site is there.”

Koch said work on the recognition plaque was truly a collaborative effort.

“We had letters of support from the EID Historical Park in Scandia, Brooks Museum, County of Newell and County of Vulcan, who had staff help out as well.

While the plaque won’t likely been installed before the anniversary, Koch says the timing couldn’t be better.

“This has been a long time coming for the village, but it is nice and timely to get the call a couple weeks before the hundredth.”

Crediting both the Historical Society of Alberta, and Hugh Dempsey for the opportunity to share a decade’s worth of research on the former village of Bow City, Koch’s blog featured the history of Bow City in a post called “The village born unlucky”.

“Bow City is an unlikely spot for a metropolis.

Situated about 20 miles southwest of the city of Brooks, this curiously named community is comprised of a well-maintained park and a scattering of acreages perched atop the north bank of the Bow River. Once a bustling coal mine camp during the ’40s and ’50s, today’s hamlet no longer even merits a dot on the provincial road map.

Bow City owes its continued existence to the bridge that traverses the Bow River at this location. It owes its origins, however, to a rich deposit of coal, situated west of the hamlet, embedded deep within the towering south bank of the Bow.”

Koch says there is always the undiscovered – or at least little known about communities to next shine lights on.

“There are always gaps. Places like Alderson. There are places like Pearsonville and Bingville – a large farming community and population that was displaced because of the creation of CFB Suffield.”

He said the Second World War had an effect on southeastern Alberta.

“The landscape and civilization looked different prior to it. There were more villages and communities dotting the prairies with grain elevators in most of them. For every community or place we know about there are some we have no idea or a very poor history on. This is where efforts should be made – on keeping of the long lost community’s history. Plaques and markers like the one slated for Bow City are chapters that provide this history.”

Thank you to Rob Brown and the Brooks Bulletin for kindly granting the permission to reproduce this article.

2 thoughts on “Bow City getting village status historical marker”

  1. Hi Chris, thanks for checking in! It is great news. If you remember the vantage point on the river bank where you could see old and new Bow City, that’s the location where they will be placing the marker. I’m very excited to see this happen. Keep in touch!

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