Category Archives: Places

“Homecoming Scotland” celebrates Irvine

Irvine, Alberta watercolour c. 2003
Irvine, Alberta - Photoshop watercolour c. 2003

Irvine, Alberta has gained some notoriety from its namesake in Scotland. An exhibition of photographs (not including the above, which is a rendering of one of my own) on display in the Scottish Parliament celebrate the community of Irvine in North Ayrshire’s association with the Alberta hamlet:

One panel at the exhibition includes pictures of buffalo grazing outside Irvine’s namesake, while another features a shot of the ‘road to infinity’ running nearby.

I’m not sure what the “road to infinity” refers to, possibly the Trans Canada Highway, which passes to the south of the community. If anyone could enlighten me on that, it would be much appreciated.

The Irvine area also garnered worldwide notoriety in 2006 after the discovery of a natural feature nearby, which would become known as the Badlands Guardian.

Big Blast on the Prairie

We’re not talking about the Cattle Country Jamboree.

Archie Pennie, 93, a one-time RCAF pilot and now tells us about “Operation Snowball,” the largest man-made, non-accidental explosion to occur in Canada:

in 1964, Canada, Australia, Britain and the U.S. set off 500 tons of TNT — 1/15th the size of the Hiroshima explosion —in Suffield, Alta. — to study the physical effects of a large-scale nuclear blast. The detonation, Pennie recalls, left a crater, 70 metres across and 10 metres deep, that U.S. astronauts used for training.*

Speaking of CFB Suffield, we continue to learn of top secret military experiments which have occurred here since the land was first expropriated from area residents in June of 1941. Here is another recent article outlining an experiment which took place at Suffield during the latter stages of the Second World War:

Britain came close to dropping poisoned darts on German troops

A note from January 25, 1945, headed The Use of Poisoned Darts from the Air, said: “It is recommended that earnest consideration be given to possible utility of darts with a view to deciding whether development and exploration of this project should not be continued and intensified.”

Listed as “Top Secret”, it was written by an official from Porton Down, in Salisbury, which was then a government research centre for chemical and biological weapons. Scientists were working on the initiative with their counterparts at Suffield, a similar site in Canada.

According to the article “[r]ecords show that they were tested on sheep and goats in Canada to establish the effectiveness of dropping the projectiles from high and low altitudes.”

It sounds like a number of our four legged friends have given their lives at Suffield in the name of King and Country over the years.