Tag Archives: Drought

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

#FABTrip15: Bindloss, Buffalo, and beyond.

Having logged over 1000 km in two days, we finally headed for home on a lazy Sunday morning. Along Secondary Highway 555 we stopped in forlorn outposts of the prairie, the communities of Bindloss, and Buffalo, and a forgotten graveyard near the ghost town of Cavendish. As the warm winds whipped the dirt and tumbleweeds around us, and the sun bore down through the high haze, I felt a communion of sorts with the dry belt denizens of decades ago, who left these parched plains en masse, having endured too many seasons of promise turned to dust. I wondered how the residents of today would endure, and what would be left to see our next time around.  Continue reading #FABTrip15: Bindloss, Buffalo, and beyond.

#FABTrip15: Pte. John Harold Fenton of Cavendish, Lest We Forget

 

John Harold Fenton reported for duty on June 10, 1918. A farmer’s son from the windswept plain at Cavendish, Alberta, young Fenton was just 17 when he journeyed west to Calgary to enlist in the Alberta Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Possibly driven by patriotism, a desire for adventure, or the need to escape the dusty desolation of the drybelt, Private Fenton signed up just as the Great War was drawing to a close. While Germany’s forces on the Western Front were nearing defeat by October 1918, another deadly foe was emerging from the east, this time closer to home. Read more at www.forgottenalberta.com #LestWeForget #Alberta #Canada #RemembranceDay #WW1 #abandoned #forgotten #pioneer #cemetery #history #mybadlands #FABTrip15 @gregfarries

A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

John Harold Fenton reported for duty on June 10, 1918. A farmer’s son from the windswept plain at Cavendish, Alberta, young Fenton was just 17 when he journeyed west to Calgary to enlist in the Alberta Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Possibly driven by patriotism, a desire for adventure, or the need to escape the dusty desolation of the drybelt, Private Fenton signed up just as the Great War was drawing to a close. While Germany’s forces on the Western Front were nearing defeat by October 1918, another deadly foe  was emerging from the east, this one closer to home.

Continue reading #FABTrip15: Pte. John Harold Fenton of Cavendish, Lest We Forget

Update: Alderson up in smoke

An update on Alderson, the past remains of which appear to have gone up in smoke. It appears a prairie fire swept through the area around August 14-15, leveling what little was left of the former village.

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.

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Alderson: The past remains

At Alderson, a former village along the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline, northwest of Medicine Hat, time and freight roll on – but the past remains.

To echo the thoughts included within the preface to Empire of Dust (see below), it should be a historic site. There are stories to be told there.

Split personality. 

X” marks the spot.

Looking southeast down Bowell Street, Alderson

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