Update: A copy of the Majorville Landscape Management Plan, prepared in March 2012, was submitted to Vulcan County Council for review on March 4. Click here to read more.
Late in 2014, Hanna-area farmer, Gottlob Schmidt, known as “Schmitty”, became a celebrity of sorts after it was announced he had donated of 940 acres (380 hectares) of his own land to be established as Antelope Hill Provincial Park. Situated on undisturbed native grassland, Antelope Hill is not yet open to the public, as Mr. Schmidt still resides there, part-time anyway, on the farm his family has owned since 1933. However, at some point in the future the park will be opened, with opportunities for low-impact day-use being made available to the public, including hiking, nature appreciation and wildlife viewing.
The announcement is significant, not only because of Schmitty’s uncommon foresight and generosity; but also because Antelope Hill is the first provincial park to be created in southeastern Alberta in almost 50 years, the last being Tillebrook (between Tilley and Brooks) in 1965.
So many people to thank for this terrific honour. Thanks to @gregfarries , Rose & Ryan at the @PrairiePostAlta , Liza Dawber & Vulcan County, and of course my wife and best friend, Amanda. This couldn’t have happened without your support. #ABheritage #ABforum14 #canadianbadlands #Alberta #history
Following up on his comment in an earlier post, Forgotten Alberta reader, Greg, has forwarded a number of pictures depicting what he found when he visited the former village a few days ago.
As he mentioned in his comment, much of what is left resembles a moonscape; although I am struck by the site of green grass in late September, a rarity itself in southeastern Alberta. The state of Alderson today also stands in stark contrast with what I found there in late July, when abundant overgrowth had overtaken and obscured the entire townsite.
With the bones of this bygone village now exposed, I sincerely hope it will not be besieged by pickers and plunderers, rooting for souvenirs within the newly scorched earth. In my opinion, the value of this site extends far beyond being a place to be plundered for period trinkets and souvenirs.
Scrolling through the images below, I can’t help but wonder how the former village of Alderson is any less significant than any number of the 12,500 historic places listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places? Curiously, the site of Canadian Pacific Langevin Number 1 and 2 Gas Wells, listed as the site of the discovery of natural gas in Alberta (and possibly Canada), was recognized in 1981, and the cairn commemorating this event is literally across the road from the Carlstadt / Alderson townsite.
It seems a glaring and obvious oversight that the subsequent settlement was not included, especially considering the circumstances of its decline, and the historic value of this community as an illustration of the collective history of southeastern Alberta’s homestead period. Of course, this designation preceded the publication of Empire of Dust, without which we might have already forgotten about this forsaken village long ago.
To me, there are many reasons for seeking some sort of protection and recognition for this site, and the recent prairie fire underscores the need even further.
The experiences of the people here helped shape our province. As a descendant of southeastern Alberta pioneers, this place is sacred to me.
It deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Today’s tale is about Nemiskam, the subject of the image featured above. Derived from the Blackfoot term for, “between two coulees”, Nemiskam is what one might consider a “ghost town”, located about seven miles due east of Foremost. According to Place Names of Alberta, Nemiskam is aptly named, as it is situated between Chin Coulee to the north, and Etzikom Coulee to the south.
Like many townsites surveyed along the C.P.R.’s Lethbridge – Manyberries branchline, Nemiskam quickly grew to become a community of some prominence and promise. By the ’20s it boasted an elevator row of five, a pool hall, restaurant and general store, and a modest citizenry of 75 . Like most southeastern towns, Nemiskam dwindled in the drought, but wartime brought a resurgence that lasted well into the ’40s and ’50s. Sixty years on, the elevators and commercial district are gone—the community long-since eclipsed by the also aptly-named Foremost.
While there are few today who call Nemiskam home, what the community is called continues to confuse and confound us all.