#FABTrip15: We end up in Empress

Constructed in 1914, the former C.P.R. railway station at Empress is located in a railway cut, situated on the north end of the village. During its hey-day, Empress served as a divisional point along the now-abandoned “Royal Line”, which operated between Empress and Bassano from 1914 to 1997. The Royal Line is so-named as Empress, and a number of sidings to the west—including Princess, Patricia, Millicent, Duchess, and Countess—possess names with royal origins. Although Empress was once home to a terminal facility, including a roundhouse, today all that remains is the station, which was restored by the community in time for its centennial in 2014. #Alberta #Canada #railway #royal #history #mybadlands #explorealberta #FABTrip15 @gregfarries

A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

Greg and I concluded our sojourn along the old Scapa-Loverna line with a swing through western Saskatchewan. Just over border we located Loverna, which admittedly was much more substantial than I had expected. Loverna was, at one time, a commercial hub for much of eastern Alberta and western Saskatchewan, boasting a population of about 500 souls, before drought and abandonment took its devastating toll on the community, and the surrounding area. Apparently several blazes over the past half-century have served to clear out much of the community’s “dead wood“, leaving  behind only a few occupants, and block after block of empty lots.

Leaving Loverna, we surveyed the scorched earth between there and Alsask, a stop on our 2007 road trip.  As both our vehicle and ourselves began to run on fumes, we headed into Oyen for a meal and sundries, before setting off for the village of Empress. We arrived in the “Hub of the West”  as the sun slid towards the horizon, ending our excursion at the Forksview Inn: a comfortable, clean and affordable place to relax after a long, dusty day on the road.

A century ago, the village of Empress rose to prominence as the major centre between Swift Current and Bassano along the CPR’s now-abandoned Empress Subdivision. Named for Queen Victoria—the Empress of India—the community was a designated a divisional point by the CPR, ensuring the sale of village lots would be a huge success. According to Golden Memories of Empress, $300,000 in lots were scooped up (about $7 million in 2015 dollars) on Nov. 3, 1913, a mere seven hours after going on the market.  By the time steel reached the village (six months later), Empress possessed a population of several hundred, with a satellite townsite popping up one mile to the west. By the mid ‘20s, Empress was home to almost 700 residents, and boasted three elevators, several businesses and a “thriving little hospital”. #Alberta #Canada #railway #royal #history #mybadlands #explorealberta #FABTrip15 @gregfarries A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

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3 thoughts on “#FABTrip15: We end up in Empress”

  1. As a child in the 60’s and into the early 70’s our family visited Empress almost every year because we relatives living there. One was Tom Howse and the other Joe howse. I just loved that little town. I have always wanted to go back for a visit just to see the town again, but seems unlikely I’ll ever get to do so. Old age and ill health probably will keep me from doing the visit.

  2. Have a look at this page:

    http://www.members.shaw.ca/abmotor/

    Back in 1998, a group took a trip down the former CP Rail Bassano Subdivision from Rosemary to Empress before the tracks were pulled. At Empress, there were a couple of railway remnants of interest, one being the remains of a planned rail line between Edmonton and Empress that was never completed. Other remnants of this rail line were the former CP Rail Lorraine and Youngstown Subdivisions.

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