“Here on these prairie plains I stay,
Wanting nevermore to stray,
The winter days will come once more,
And north winds whistle ’round the door.
For always in my heart I sing
The song of a wondrous prairie spring,
And the melody to me so dear,
Is only this – My home is here.”
– An excerpt from “My Home Is Here.” by Lydia Montallan of Carseland.
Originally published in the June 1947 issue of Canadian Cattleman, “My Home Is Here” appears alongside an article about Otelie Lund in “The Piegan Country”, a 1966 history of the Maleb area of S.E. Alberta. Natives of Norway, Ms. Lund (b. 1880) and her husband, Lars, settled in what was known as the Glen Banner district in 1909. The Lunds built a two-storey home in 1917, a local landmark which still stands to this day on a hilltop five miles north of present-day Orion (pictured).
The hardships were many for Ms. Lund. Widowed when she was 70, fifteen years later she was still feeding cattle, chopping wood, hauling coal, and living without electricity. A 1965 article in the Medicine Hat News celebrated her as a “living example of true pioneer spirit and courage”:
“Mrs. Lund, who did not have a family to raise, has not seen a relative since coming to this country in 1909. She had left behind in Norway a large family of sisters and brothers when she came with her new husband on the new venture. Perhaps all her dreams weren’t realized, but building a new life in a new country has brought many satisfactions to Mrs. Lund as she now looks back on it all and treasures each precious memory of old times, old days, old friends.”
Ms. Lund passed away ten years later at the age of 95.
Can you imagine a small-town doctor with an airplane, visiting patients all around southern Alberta 100 years ago?
For almost 40 years, Bassano’s Dr. Alexander Gladstone Scott worked around the clock, tending to the well-being of the surrounding frontier communities. With patients spread across many miles, he took to the roads, and then to the skies, going “Above and Beyond” to care for prairie people in the days before public health care.
In a video produced by Jonathan F. Koch and the Forgotten Alberta Project, with the cooperation of Bassano Medical Clinic, the Town of Bassano, and the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP), we celebrate the living legacy of Dr. A.G. Scott: An innovator, pioneer, and prairie trailblazer.
Sad news coming from Orion, Alberta this morning. I have received word from a few friends of Forgotten Alberta that the pioneer-era hardware store operated by prairie icon, Boyd Stevens, burned to the ground on Christmas Day.
Comments on Facebook and elsewhere online indicate that Boyd is safe, but I will post confirmation and further details once they become available.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have stopped by Stevens Hardware on a few occasions in during sojourns through the south, and had the privilege of conversing with Boyd about his life and times in isolated Orion, Alberta. Visitors to Stevens Hardware were assured of great conversation, and came away knowing the intimate details of the history of the region. Hopefully Boyd made it through okay, and his family’s legacy will continue.
A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on
In what has become a #FABTrip tradition when travelling through the forgotten SE corner of Alberta, we stopped in the hamlet of Orion for a chat with Boyd Stevens: lifelong resident, proprietor of Stevens Hardware, and one of a half dozen souls remaining in the community. As per usual, Mr. Stevens was convivial and accommodating, while freely sharing historical insights and colourful stories about a pioneer-era community that is passing into history.