We left the metropolis Maybutt in the midst of rush hour, and joined the lunch hour commute along the Red Coat Trail (highway 61) towards Wrentham. Upon arrival, Jason Sailer kindly treated us to a tour of the Ogilvie wooden elevator, and afterward enduring his second interview of the day, we continued eastward towards Manyberries, our final destination for day one. Along the route we stopped at familiar haunts in Skiff and Etzikom, grabbed some lunch and parted ways with Jason in Foremost, and scouted out the former siding at Pakowki, a surprisingly historical spot.
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
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.
If you’re ever passing by Orion, Alberta, be sure to stop in at Stevens Hardware and Garage. Chances are Boyd Stevens will be there.
Thanks to Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail for the opportunity to talk about Alberta’s ghost communities, and why it is important to remember them.
Comments from myself and Dr. David C. Jones appeared in the article, “Ghost towns reveal forgotten past”, which ran in the March 1st Alberta print edition of the Globe and Mail.
Mr. Hume has kindly permitted me to reproduce those comments below:
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.