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.
Grain elevators—often called prairie icons, vanishing sentinels, or prairie cathedrals on the horizon—once symbolized the rural landscape across the Canadian prairies.
Grain elevators signalled the location of the region’s villages and towns. Particularly prosperous communities had multiple elevators which provided better services and a stable tax base.
The town of Vulcan is located along the Canadian Pacific’s Aldersyde Subdivision, a secondary mainline between Lethbridge and Calgary, that opened for traffic in October 1911. During the construction of the railway, the grain elevators were erected at the various sidings along the line to receive grain from the surrounding district.
Vulcan’s first elevator, built by the Terwilliger Grain Company in 1911-1912, boasted a capacity of 25,000 bushels. It was joined in 1912 by the Alberta Grain Company’s (forerunner to Alberta Pacific Grain) 40,000-bushel elevator, and Taylor Milling’s elevator and warehouse, with a combined capacity of 12,000 bushels.
Vulcan was typical of the sidings located every six to ten miles by the railways in the West, the practical distance that grain could be delivered from the farm by horse-drawn means in a day. The railways provided sites at these points at nominal rental where the line companies could erect their elevators.
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.
A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on
After leaving Milo, Greg and I ventured north towards Queenstown, a former shipping point along the C.P.R.’s abandoned Lomond Subdivision. Already two hours behind schedule, we made a bee-line for the Drumheller valley, pausing at a small community graveyard along the way.