Category Archives: Stories

#FABTrip21: Byemoor for less

The goal of #FABTrip21 is to take you, the viewer, on a virtual tour of southern Alberta’s out-of-the-way places and spaces, which we do for less, saving you time and money as you follow along with your personal device (that was a bit of a stretch for a pun, I know). We kicked off a smoky Saturday in August with a trip to the hamlet of Byemoor, a nifty little locale on the edge of the drybelt.

According to “Still God’s Country: the early history of Byemoor and area”, the community of Byemoor was first known as “Wilson’s Siding,” as the townsite was built on land purchased in 1924 from homesteader, Jack Wilson. The name “Byemoor” was reportedly suggested by another settler, Leonard Browne, who was born at Stockton-on-Tees in England, which apparently is also known as “By-the- Moor.” As the story goes, several names were suggested for the fledgling burg, with Browne’s suggestion, Byemoor, being drawn from a hat by his son, Buster. I was informed around 25 people live in the hamlet today, which is part of the County of Stettler No. 6.
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#FABTRIP21: Hilda and Schuler

Earlier in the summer I took a quick trip with the family to see some sites of interest in Happyland, the friendliest little M.D. in Saskatchewan. Along the way we passed through the extremely photogenic corner of the dry belt that is home to Hilda and Schuler. Schuler is still very much alive and kicking, and Hilda never disappoints. The Big 10-4 in Leader makes a wicked Twister as well.

Hilda

“A smoky Saturday at the Hilda Hotel” – The Hilda Hotel first opened in 1928, and according to a Cypress County publication was the only hotel permitted to operate “in a radius to the Saskatchewan border, to Medicine Hat, to the south side of the South Saskatchewan River”. When I originally researched the Hilda Hotel back in 2005, it reportedly held the distinction of being “the oldest running hotel never to have its license revoked”. It has been closed for several years now, and it seems unlikely that it will reopen anytime soon..
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“Finder, and keeper, of forgotten puzzle pieces”

So this is me.

Many thanks to the AMA, specifically Misty Harris for taking an interest in my story, and the brothers Jeremy and Ashley Chugg, and videographer, Shaun Henning, for making this video an amazing experience.

The final product is outstanding.

And of course, thanks to my brother Nick and his crew for letting me poke around the farm with a camera crew, and to my brood for their patience and support throughout.

I should mention that Beatrice Taylor was the daughter of the homesteader, not the present leaseholder. I should have been more precise in my speech.

Here’s to the Grange

The venerable Grange in 2006. It was a good day.

Last weekend was a bad one for Carmangay.

On Sunday this village of 250 was visited twice by fire, the scourge of many an old tyme prairie burg.

The region’s infamous gales drove a blaze eastward across the tinder dry plains towards the town, prompting an evacuation of the community Sunday afternoon.

The prairie fire burned up miles of the surrounding countryside, with videos of the onrushing inferno going viral, and grabbing headlines nationwide.

However in Carmangay, it is the loss of the venerable Grange Hotel in a conflagration hours earlier that this weekend will surely be remembered for.

Mere days after hosting the annual “world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade”, the Grange, with its iconic creamsicle coloured façade, was razed to the ground during the wee hours of Sunday, taking with it over 110 years of history and hijinks.

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Mike Drew, Hemaruka, and A mention in passing

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:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-1/clip/15832445

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:

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