Founded about 1925, the now extinct settlement of Naco, Alberta derived its name from a town and former military post on the Arizona – Mexico border. According to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, the word “Naco” means “nopal cactus” in the extinct Ópata language of Sonora in Mexico. Wikipedia also states that “nopal” is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti, commonly referred to as Prickly Pear. The Opuntia polyacantha, or Plains Prickly Pear, is a hardy variety of cactus found in Southern Alberta that thrives in sunny, hot, and dry locations, such as Naco. #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas #rolandschool
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.
Continue reading A glorious summer sojourn in the Special Areas
Whenever I swing through the southeast, the road home is seldom the most direct route. Last Sunday was no exception. On the way back from balmy Brooks, the brood and I veered north towards the Red Deer River, taking Secondary Highway 876 into the heart of Special Areas #2. We traced the CNR’s abandoned “Peavine” rail spur north from Steveville, stopping to photographs some ruins and ruminants, before concluding our brief sojourn with a stroll down the breezy boulevards of Sunnynook.
Continue reading Road Trip: Meandering along the “Peavine” (Hwy 876).
Leaving Empress, we journeyed westward, following the abandoned Royal Line onto our next stop, the hamlet of Bindloss. Located in Special Areas No. 2, Bindloss, according to ‘Place Names of Alberta’, is named after Harold Bindloss (1866-1945), a prolific British author of “western” novels, some of which were set in the Canadian West. No word on whether Bindloss ever visited the hamlet that bore his name, although some of his tomes, including “The Harder Way”, “The Lean Years” and “Long Odds”, could very well have been set here. #Alberta #Canada #history #abandoned #mybadlands #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
Having logged over 1000 km in two days, we finally headed for home on a lazy Sunday morning. Along Secondary Highway 555 we stopped in forlorn outposts of the prairie, the communities of Bindloss, and Buffalo, and a forgotten graveyard near the ghost town of Cavendish. As the warm winds whipped the dirt and tumbleweeds around us, and the sun bore down through the high haze, I felt a communion of sorts with the dry belt denizens of decades ago, who left these parched plains en masse, having endured too many seasons of promise turned to dust. I wondered how the residents of today would endure, and what would be left to see our next time around. Continue reading #FABTrip15: Bindloss, Buffalo, and beyond.
John Harold Fenton reported for duty on June 10, 1918. A farmer’s son from the windswept plain at Cavendish, Alberta, young Fenton was just 17 when he journeyed west to Calgary to enlist in the Alberta Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Possibly driven by patriotism, a desire for adventure, or the need to escape the dusty desolation of the drybelt, Private Fenton signed up just as the Great War was drawing to a close. While Germany’s forces on the Western Front were nearing defeat by October 1918, another deadly foe was emerging from the east, this one closer to home.
Continue reading #FABTrip15: Pte. John Harold Fenton of Cavendish, Lest We Forget