My friend and colleague, Lorena Franchuk, alerted me to the fact that the legendary Calgary Sun photographer and columnist, Mike Drew, was on CBC Radio earlier today.

While I don’t know him personally, Mike was a great inspiration to me in the early days of this project. I was pleased to hear he and I are clearly cut from the same cloth, as he adheres to the same philoshphy on the Rockies as myself: you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.

Be sure to listen in here:

The interview was also notable for the surprising amount of time taken discussing the desert outpost of Hemaruka.

Located roughly about half-way between Veteran and Youngstown on SH 884, this almost forgotten prairie burg is notable for its name, which is derived from a rather prolific railroad official named Warren:

The name for this hamlet, previously known as “Zetland,” was changed in 1927. It is a combination of the first two letters of the names of the four daughters of A.E. Warren, general manager, Central Region, Canadian National Railways. The names of the four girls were Helen, Margaret, Ruth and Kathleen. Mr. Warren had been a senior executive of both the Canadian Northern Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and, after the Canadian National Railways absorbed both, held various posts with the C.N.R.

Place Names of Alberta – Volume III
Central Alberta

This site even received a mention in passing, coming up in the host’s Google Search for “Hemaruka”. While it was only five seconds with Mike Drew, I’ll take it.

A plaque at Hemaruka reads: “Hemaruka – 1926 First settlers arrived 1909. C.N.R. arrived in 1926. Town was named after engineers four daughters Helen, Mary, Ruth and Kate. There were 15 businesses. Anglician [sic] church and community hall. Post office and last business closed in 1966, school in 1967, elevators in 1975. Dedicated to the pioneers of this district Hemaruka Community 1976”

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

― Cormac McCarthy
This is Hemaruka. Named for Helen, Mary, Ruth and Kate this outpost on the plain possessed few amenities in 2015 but was well-maintained, the hall was in good shape, and home improvements were underway on at least one residence. Judging by the lack of derelict structures, and proliferation of plaques within, Hemaruka appears to be a community that is determined not to disappear.

8 Replies to “Mike Drew, Hemaruka, and A mention in passing”

  1. An interesting spot, I was able to stop there in 2019. Was nice to see a former railway bunkhouse in the community.

    Mike has some great photos! I enjoy reading his stories and looking at his prairie photos.

  2. Hey Jason! It’s a cool little spot. Might be time for another visit. I suspect after yesterday’s interview Mike Drew might be stopping by as well!

  3. Jonathon, the house at the Northeast corner, an old railway residence, has been demolished.

  4. My aunt (98 years old) remembers this town — and its name’s origins. She asked me to look it up for her today while we chatted on the phone.

  5. Hi Anne – thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear your aunt’s reminiscences about Hemaruka. Perhaps a project for your website? All the best!

  6. My grandfather, E.N.P. Orme came to Hemaruka in April 1928, went on to Regina to become a pastor at St. Chad’s, then back to Hemaruka in 1930 to help establish the Anglican church -begun May 25, 1931 – called St. Peter’s. The first wedding in that church saw him marry Hielma Flemming in 1932. He went on to other churches in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They had three children: Claudia, Mike (my dad) and Patsy.

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