All posts by Jonathan Koch

Drawing on over a century of family history in southeastern Alberta, Jonathan Koch chronicles the forgotten people and places of southern Alberta, Canada's Badlands region.

Big loss for Orion: Stevens Hardware destroyed in Christmas Day blaze

Sad news coming from Orion, Alberta this morning.  I have received word from a  few friends of Forgotten Alberta that the pioneer-era hardware store operated by prairie icon, Boyd Stevens, burned to the ground on Christmas Day.

A video posted on Facebook by Logan Biesterfeldt shows the store already completely engulfed, as locals scramble to contain the fire on a frost Xmas morning. 

Comments  on Facebook and elsewhere online indicate that Boyd is safe, but I will post confirmation and further details once they become available.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have stopped by Stevens Hardware on a few occasions in during sojourns through the south, and had the privilege of conversing with Boyd about his life and times in isolated Orion, Alberta. Visitors to Stevens Hardware  were assured of great conversation, and came away knowing the intimate details of the history of the region. Hopefully Boyd made it through okay, and his family’s legacy will continue.

 

Boyd Stevens: Storekeeper & Orion #Alberta icon. #FABTrip14 @prairiepostalta

A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

Boyd and the store were subjects of a video short by director, Sean Thonson, of Travel Alberta fame (“Remember to Breathe”) calledPassing Orion“.

Forgotten Alberta Revisited: The C.P.R’s Suffield Subdivision

I was honoured this past year to be asked to submit several pieces to the recently-released Lomond and District history book. I have written several articles about this are since starting the Forgotten Alberta project, many of which are based on previous compositions and columns now buried within the deepest, darkest recesses of this blog. One such article was the following history of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Suffield Subdivision. Originally a two-parter, I have combined both articles into a single essay, which hopefully is an improvement.

I am also grateful to Jason Paul Sailer, Alberta heritage hero, founder of the Ogilvie Wooden Grain Elevator Society, and editor of the Galt Railway Museum blog,  for his assistance editing this article, and for adding the recent history of the both Suffield / Lomond and Kipp /Turin CPR Subdivisions. Read on, and let me know what you think!

Continue reading Forgotten Alberta Revisited: The C.P.R’s Suffield Subdivision

The latest from Forgotten Alberta

As paid work and personal commitments keep me more than busy, my time for contributions to Forgotten Alberta has been nearing non-existent.

However, despite the fact I haven’t had an original thought in months, I have been honoured to have my previous works featured in a couple of Alberta publications during the past month.

Alberta Views magazine featured my piece on Dr. Alexander Scott of Bassano, renowned as Western Canada’s first flying doctor, in the November issue. You can read the original Prairie Post column here.

The Oyen Echo also ran my vignette on Cavendish casualty, Pte. John Harold Fenton, on the cover of their Nov. 8 edition. Check out the original here.  Thank you to David McKinstry for making this happen.

I was also fortunate to be asked to contribute several articles to the most recent Lomond and District History Book, most of which are based on posts and articles originally published on this site. In the coming weeks I will republish some of these, the first being an updated history of the C.P.R.’s ill-fated Suffield Subdivision.

In other news…

Continue reading The latest from Forgotten Alberta

A glorious summer sojourn in the Special Areas

First of all, I have to apologize that it has taken me so long to get this post online. The pace of my personal and professional life has ramped up considerably, leaving me with less and less time to devote to my passion, the Forgotten Alberta project. However, on the flip side. I’m truly blessed through the course of my work to be able to work alongside many passionate and dedicated rural Alberta residents who are making their communities better places to live.  Last month I was honoured to spend time in Veteran, Consort, and Oyen, where I interviewed local residents, and learned about rural leadership, and the challenges of keeping healthcare professionals in rural communities. I also encountered a stretch of glorious summer weather (one of the few this year), and some spectacular scenery in my travels throughout the Special Areas.

Continue reading A glorious summer sojourn in the Special Areas

#FABTrip16: Day one closes at Comrey

A dreary day one of #FABTrip16 came to a close at Comrey, a hop-skip from the Milk River and Montana’s Sweet Grass Hills.  After wandering the lonely backroads of this now-desolate pioneer-era community, we would retire at the Southern Ranchmen’s Inn in Manyberries, where we would savour a hearty steak, and all of the Tour of Duty TV series we could stomach.

Continue reading #FABTrip16: Day one closes at Comrey