Prairie Stonehenge

The much photographed stone house of Cessford, Alberta. Sometimes referred to as “Prairie Stonehenge”, this iconic ruin was the last labour of Edward and Elizabeth Turner, whose pioneering family arrived on the open range south of today’s Cessford over a century ago. A native of St. John, NB, Edward Warden Turner had gone to Minnesota in his 20’s, where he married a woman nine years his junior, Elizabeth Hall, in 1880. During the next decade, Elizabeth and Edward, the latter listing his occupations as “farming” and “real estate”, would have five children – Albert, Gertrude, Frederick, Evelyn, and Alice. With Minnesota in the midst of a farming boom, the Turners came north in 1910, in pursuit of a better, and likely a more affordable future for Turner the elder’s legion of dependents. In March of that year, at age of 64, Edward W. Turner filed a quarter section of land (NW 13-23-12 W4) in what was then considered the Steveville or Shandleigh district. The Turners, accompanied by their children, ranging in age from 28 to 22, moved on to the barren plain near the meandering Berry Creek, adjacent the route of the future CNR spur line (“the Peavine”), but miles from any existing rail head. Although the abundance of field stone in the area no doubt hobbled man and beast, and likely did a number on the rudimentary equipment of the age, it provided the family with easy access to an abundance of free building material. By the time the Turner patriarch filed for patent on his quarter section in Oct. 1913 at age 69, a stone house valued at $2000 had been constructed on the homestead, standing out amongst the stick-built shacks that dotted the surrounding plains. Unfortunately, Mr. Turner would not live to receive the patent on his quarter, as he passed away in Nov. 1913, and was interred at what is now Cessford Cemetery. Mrs. Turner joined her husband in the great beyond the following spring, and was laid to rest alongside him. The rest of the family returned to the States shortly thereafter. #Alberta #canadianbadlands #mybadlands #specialareas #explorealberta #history #Canada #pioneer #forgottenalberta

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4 thoughts on “Prairie Stonehenge”

  1. Jonathan, thank you for posting this amazing image and its history. I first found this information on “Find a Grave” while searching for Edward and Elizabeth Turner and their family members. They are part of my family genealogy- Tree of Turners of Minnesota. The Find a grave website ; posted Forgotten Alberta as its source. I spent the afternoon enjoying your website and found it to be so interesting and loved the history. Thank you for persevering History. Jennifer Turner Brand

  2. Hi Jennifer – it’s great to hear from you! I didn’t realize this was on Find A Grave, I’m grateful for the attribution. There is now a sign at the “Turner House”, I will be posting an image of it in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! I’d also be grateful for any history on the Turners of Cessford that you’d be willing to share. I will touch base with you offline to inquire. Have a great day 🙂

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