Tag Archives: C.P.R.

#FABTrip16: The Galt Historic Railway Park and Railway Heritage Interpretive Centre

The Coutts-Sweetgrass Station, now located at the Galt Historic Railway Park & Railway Heritage Interpretive Centre near Stirling, has served as a passenger depot, customs office, post office, sheriff’s department, and bunkhouse during its illustrious, and controversial, 125 year history. Constructed on the Canada- U.S. border in 1890, Coutts- Sweetgrass was one of two “lunch stations” along the Lethbridge to Great Falls rail line. Originally built by a consortium, led by Sir Alexander Galt and his son, Elliott, the station later changed hands, and became a flashpoint in the feud between new owners and arch-rivals, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Great Northern Railway. In 1916 the C.P.R. ended the uneasy relationship, sawing the station in half and dragging its portion into Coutts. Abandoned over 70 years later, the station was acquired by the Great Canadian Plains Railway Society in 2000, which moved to it a 35-acre site near Stirling. The last remaining Galt narrow gauge station in Southern Alberta has been faithfully restored to its original proportions, and the museum grounds is now home to a number of rare artifacts, including a Kalamazoo Speeder, a post office car, and a baggage car converted into a school room, with an interactive telephone room in the back. Thanks again to Jason Sailer for the info. @gcprs1890 @gregfarries @owges #explorealberta🇨🇦 #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #fabtrip16

A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

The Forgotten Alberta 2016 Road Trip (FABTrip#16) kicked off on July 6 with a visit to the Galt Historic Railway Park & Railway Heritage Interpretive Centre at Stirling. Park volunteer and Alberta heritage hero, Jason Sailer, met myself and Greg Farries at the park, and provided us with a wonderful glimpse into the Galt’s past, present, and future. We also received a tour from the park’s fabulous summer staff, and we stopped by the remnants of Maybutt for good measure, before we all headed off to Wrentham for a tour of the Ogilvie Wooden Grain elevator.

Continue reading #FABTrip16: The Galt Historic Railway Park and Railway Heritage Interpretive Centre

#FABTrip15: Impressions of Empress

On the final day of #FABTrip15, we emerged from comfy confines of the Forksview  Motel and Manor, ready for another dry and dusty day in #SEAlta. After a wander around the village, Greg and I stopped at That’s Empressive for a coffee, a chat, an ice cream, and a Kit Kat, before hitting the road for Bindloss and points west along the abandoned Royal Line. Continue reading #FABTrip15: Impressions of Empress

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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Top Instagram shots from 2013 – #1

1. Scenes from Irvine, Alberta (2013)

A popular choice amongst my Instagram followers, the photo above was taken while I stood on the train tracks at Irvine, Alberta on July 24, 2013, on day one of the 2013 Forgotten Alberta road trip. The photo underneath was taken on a stroll around the hamlet, as I looked southward across the C.P.R. mainline towards Irvine’s historic South Railway Avenue. To the left is the Irvine Hotel, where myself and U of L alumnus Greg Farries stayed for the night, and whose rustic digs provided much fodder for Twitter as the evening progressed:


Good times!

Top Instagram shots from 2013 – #2

2. Historic Bassano, Alberta (2013)

Bassano has a proud history, and nowhere is this more evident than in the architecture found in the community. I grew up 30 minutes from here, and I had no idea until this summer what a collection of heritage buildings there were to be found in town. This is odd considering a year earlier we stayed at the Imperial Hunter Hotel, an old C.P.R. hotel chock full of historic artifacts from the days of Sam Whiting when Bassano was “the logical and recognized centre of Canada’s great inland empire“.