Charlotte Gorley was scanning some family photos when a couple of unfamiliar images captured her attention.
“I have found two photos of the Oyen school fire in ,” explained Ms. Gorley, a resident of Victoria, B.C., in an email message. “The photos show clouds of smoke billowing out and a crowd of people watching.”
On the back of one of the images, a postcard, was written: “This is a picture our school when it was in flames”, signed by “Barney, Oyen”.
Both images were from the collection of Wilma Gyger (nee Gorley), daughter of Harold Gorley and Thelma Miller, who passed away in 2017.
A genealogy researcher, Gorley wished to learn about the area, and the ‘backstory’ behind these postcards and images.
“I’m curious to know more about the fire and the community of Oyen,” she added.
A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on
First of all, I have to apologize that it has taken me so long to get this post online. The pace of my personal and professional life has ramped up considerably, leaving me with less and less time to devote to my passion, the Forgotten Alberta project. However, on the flip side. I’m truly blessed through the course of my work to be able to work alongside many passionate and dedicated rural Alberta residents who are making their communities better places to live. Last month I was honoured to spend time in Veteran, Consort, and Oyen, where I interviewed local residents, and learned about rural leadership, and the challenges of keeping healthcare professionals in rural communities. I also encountered a stretch of glorious summer weather (one of the few this year), and some spectacular scenery in my travels throughout the Special Areas.
Leaving Loverna, we surveyed the scorched earth between there and Alsask, a stop on our 2007 road trip. As both our vehicle and ourselves began to run on fumes, we headed into Oyen for a meal and sundries, before setting off for the village of Empress. We arrived in the “Hub of the West” as the sun slid towards the horizon, ending our excursion at the Forksview Inn: a comfortable, clean and affordable place to relax after a long, dusty day on the road. Continue reading #FABTrip15: We end up in Empress→
(Hover over image to activate slideshow options – Slides courtesy of Glen Lundeen / prairie-towns.com)
The launch of Prairie-towns.com signals yet another online endeavour to preserve the history and heritage of Western Canadian communities.
Contained within the collection are over 2700 photos, many postcard images, from 400+ communities throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Amongst the total is are several pioneer-era postcards from southeast Alberta communities such as Alderson, Chinook, Orion and Suffield (see above) that have withered considerably, or disappeared altogether since the images were captured.