St. Julien School was named for the First World War battle of St. Julien, part of the Second Battle of Ypres, which took place in Belgium during the spring of 1915. The Second Battle of Ypres was significant as it marked the first time chlorine gas was used by German forces to inflict mass casualties on Allied troops. The Canadian victory at St. Julien also marked the first time an armed force from a former European colony had prevailed on European soil. According to the Esther community history, locals met at Chris Torgerson’s farm in 1918, voting 9-2 in favour of building a school. After considering Vimy Ridge and Rutherlands as possible names, school trustees agreed on St. Julien to honour the famous victory. The school opened in 1918, and remained in operation until 1955, closing after a new school in Esther negated the need for St. Julien. #alberta #canada #military #history #pioneer #schoolhouse #war #ww1 #worldwarone #ypres #mybadlands #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
According to Place Names of Alberta, Esther was named after Anna Esther Landreth, daughter of the community’s first postmaster, Yens.B. Olsen, in 1914. A townsite bearing the same name was established here in 1926 alongside the newly constructed C.N.R. rail line. #Alberta #Canada #ghosttown #abandoned #elevator #explorealberta #mybadlands #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
Our last stop on the Alberta leg of the abandoned C.N.R. line running north of Hanna was at Esther, a bona fide ghost town north east of Oyen, and site of the oldest remaining wooden Alberta Wheat Pool elevator . Although the townsite seems to have become an extension of someone’s farm yard, the presence of mailboxes within, and signage commemorating previous occupants of the remaining structures, re-assured us it was okay to have a quick look around.
Our visit and social sharing inspired nostalgia amonsgt many of our followers online, further evidence of the power these fast-disappearing wooden structures have in evoking memories amongst prairie people of the way way were, as well as a longing and reverence for the way things used to be. Continue reading #FABTrip15: Esther elevates the discussion
In 1925 the Canadian National Railway began to construct a branch line west from Loverna, SK to Hemaruka, AB. By 1926 it had reached New Brigden. The railway brought grain elevators, a hardware store, grocery stores, restaurant and other services to New Brigden. A water tower was also erected to provide a reliable water source to the early steam locomotives. Constructed almost entirely of wood the approximately, the 13-meter water tower is the tallest feature of the New Brigden skyline. In the early years New Brigden was served by train three days a week. In time however, improved roads in the region made it easier to move around, making it necessary for the train to come to New Brigden only once a week, Fridays. In 1979, New Brigden lost its railway service. The water tower remains as the oldest structure in the community and the last prominent reminder of the settlement period. Sources: newbrigden.ca, Alberta Register of Historic Places #Alberta #Canada #railway #history #mybadlands #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
A few miles east of Sedalia is the hamlet of New Brigden. For many years, this community was known for being the home of long-serving Alberta politician, and one-time Deputy Premier, (Hon.) Shirley McClellan. This community seems to have weathered the recurring cycle of drought and depopulation better than many in the dry belt, and today still boasts a school, post office and community hall. New Brigden also possesses enough community spirit to acquire almost $40,000 in provincial grants to preserve the hamlet’s 90 year old water tower, which while weathered and leaning, has long out-lasted the railway that preceded it. Continue reading #FABTrip15: The heart of New Brigden
Further east along the abandoned Hemaruka-Loverna line is the hamlet of Sedalia. Clearly a community with sticking power, Sedalia boasts an active post office /convenience store, and Co-op store (although both were closed when we arrived); as well as a hall, a church, and a handful of residents. Next stop: New Brigden. Continue reading #FABTrip15: We stop at Sedalia
“NACO – District first settled in 1910. C.N.R. arrived in 1925, second Alberta Wheat Pool elevator in province erected. J.J. Doolans store, 10 More businesses, another elevator, public and high school were quickly established. Highest population 70. Last business closed in 1954 and last resident left in 1963. Erected and dedicated to everyone who called Naco their town.” – Plaque at Naco townsite #Alberta #Canada #elevator #history #mybadlands #explorealberta #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
Greg and I continued east towards Little Gem, now a sprawling farmstead along the abandoned grade of the C.N.R. line. The place lived up to its name, with the small park and plaque at Little Gem being an unexpected green oasis amidst the vast expanse of windswept prairie.
The next stop was a study in contrast. Were it not for the cairn erected alongside the highway, Naco townsite would have been virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding grassland. Closer inspection revealed the flotsam of this former community strewn throughout the shortgrass, which also concealed the hornets’ nest I inadvertently knelt down upon, prompting my hasty retreat from the scene. After pausing at the rest stop across across the road, which yielded even more wasp nests, and a collage of explicit pornography, we continued ever eastward towards less-creepy Sedalia. Continue reading #FABTrip15: Little Gem to Naco