Category Archives: I’m just sayin’

1973: I barely knew ye

Every Saturday Night, Tom Radford, National Film Board of Canada

Hat tip to Dan Overes over at DanOCan for digging up this gem from the vaults of the National Film Board called, Every Saturday Night. Filmed in 1973, Alberta’s generational changing of the guard is captured in grainy technicolour, as the last vestiges of our pioneer-era culture struggle to remain relevant amidst the formidable social and political shift that accompanied the Lougheed-era and the boom .

Continue reading 1973: I barely knew ye

Thank you.

 

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So many people to thank for this terrific honour. Thanks to @gregfarries , Rose & Ryan at the @PrairiePostAlta , Liza Dawber & Vulcan County, and of course my wife and best friend, Amanda. This couldn’t have happened without your support. #ABheritage #ABforum14 #canadianbadlands #Alberta #history

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Update:

Alberta Culture has posted a summary of the Heritage Awards celebration in Red Deer. The post includes a link to photos of this year’s recipients and presenters. Flip through and have a look at some of this year’s worthy recipients.

Another post with more photos is on the Alberta Heritage Resources Foundation blog, Retroactive.

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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Related:

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

Related:

Our journey to the beautiful, boring, bowl-shaped structure of Bow City (Kinnondale)

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“It’s probably one of the most boring places. It’s beautiful, but it’s flatline and in that sense it’s quite boring.”

As you may have read on this very blog, the University of Alberta announced on May 7 that a team led by Dr. Doug Schmitt had discovered the “roots” of a crater—a “bowl-shaped structure”—theorized to have been left by a massive meteorite strike just west of Bow City, Alberta.


View Bow City Crater in a larger map – Source: University of Alberta

According to Dr. Schmitt, all that remains of the “Bow City Crater” today is “a semicircular depression eight kilometres across with a central peak”. However, evidence suggests that a meteor strike within the last 70 million years left a crater that was initally eight-kilometres wide, 1.6 to 2.4 km deep, and produced an explosion “strong enough to destroy present-day Calgary”.

“An impact of this magnitude would kill everything for quite a distance,” stated the professor in a UofA media release. “If it happened today, Calgary (200 km to the northwest) would be completely fried and in Edmonton (500 km northwest), every window would have been blown out. Something of that size, throwing that much debris in the air, potentially would have global consequences; there could have been ramifications for decades.”

In an interview with Calgary Herald’s Colette Derworiz, Dr. Schmitt described the site of the discovery, a vast expanse of grazing lease and farm land about 30 miles southwest of Brooks as: “…probably one of the most boring places. It’s beautiful, but it’s flatline and in that sense it’s quite boring.”

As it turns out, I happened to spend a considerable chunk of my youth living a few miles west of this beautiful, boring and flatline place; on a farm situated in an area formerly known as Kinnondale. 

Area pioneers and their descendents have long been aware of the existence of “an ancient ring-like structure” north of Kinnondale. Referred to by the locals as “the sundial”, and others as “Canada’s Stonehenge”, the Majorville Medicine Wheel has been studied extensively by academics and mystics alike. 

Prime grazing lease - Looking southeast from the Majorville Medicine Wheel towards Bow City. During the early part of the 20th Century, this mixed-grass prairie supported some of the biggest cattle and horse herds in the country.
Prime grazing lease – Looking southeast from the Majorville Medicine Wheel towards Bow City, c. 2010. During the early part of the 20th Century, this mixed-grass prairie supported some of the biggest cattle and horse herds in the country.

However, the revelation there was yet another “ancient ring-like structure” at Bow City (Kinnondale), hidden in plain sight for longer than anyone could remember, caught the community by surprise. 

As a fan and chronicler of boring places across the southeast, especially ones close to my childhood home, I felt the need to investigate.

Continue reading Our journey to the beautiful, boring, bowl-shaped structure of Bow City (Kinnondale)