First of all, I have to apologize that it has taken me so long to get this post online. The pace of my personal and professional life has ramped up considerably, leaving me with less and less time to devote to my passion, the Forgotten Alberta project. However, on the flip side. I’m truly blessed through the course of my work to be able to work alongside many passionate and dedicated rural Alberta residents who are making their communities better places to live.  Last month I was honoured to spend time in Veteran, Consort, and Oyen, where I interviewed local residents, and learned about rural leadership, and the challenges of keeping healthcare professionals in rural communities. I also encountered a stretch of glorious summer weather (one of the few this year), and some spectacular scenery in my travels throughout the Special Areas.


Thank you to Bonnie Sansregret for the invite to tour Roland School, a century old one room schoolhouse situated on her family’s land south of Consort. Opened in 1913, the school was in operation for 20 years, according to the Alberta Register of Historic Places, and was used as “a voting station, a venue for Christmas Concerts, sports days, dances, and even a hospital” until the early ’60s. The school owes its long life to the dedication of Bonnie’s family, in particular her father, whom she tells me halted a moving crew as they were preparing to abscond with this historic landmark. Although vandalized recently, this 103 year old one room school is an authentic part of Alberta’s pioneer past, and is still open to be viewed by the public. #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas

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Hazy harvest. Oyen #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas

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Bailing out. Special Area No. 4 near Naco #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas #migration

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Fairacres is the place to be. The following is an excerpt from the Oyen History Book, “Many Trails Crossed Here” Vol. 1 about Fairacres School, written by Edward McKinstry and Harriet Austen: “Fairacres 2585 took it’s name from the post office opened in the home of Mrs. Cora Nelson. Mrs. Nelson had thought of the name while looking out of her kitchen window across the green hills of the homestead. A number of local men worked to build the school on Section 26-29-4-4… By 1937 every family northof the school had moved away and the enrollment had dropped so it was decided to join with the two neighbouring districts, Nebalta and Glenada. So the final school board, chairman Dave Warwick, secretary Gilbert McKinstry and trustee Charlie Gillespie turned over the management to the Acadia School Division. The building was moved from the original location on section 26 to a new spot on the Warwick farm on section 14. Fairacres school closed in 1944 and still stands today.” #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas

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One room with a view. Fairacres School near Oyen #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas #abandoned

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3 Replies to “A glorious summer sojourn in the Special Areas”

  1. Glad you were able to check out the Roland school Jonathan, a real gem! Was able to tour it twice this year; kudos to Bonnie and her family for being able to preserve this!

  2. Nice to see that you are able to make it out and wander around the Special Areas. This is a part of the province that I have not had much of a chance to explore, I will be out this July and will make it a point to visit the bustling metropolis’ of Sullivan Lake, Garden Plain and Spondin. Maybe if I’m lucky and take the right grid road, I’ll finally get to see the “body of water” called Sullivan Lake.

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