Monday, April 24, 2017

Ferry Point

Part of the Donalda Museum,
on the edge of the coulee.

A few days ago I met up with someone who I've talked to through an online photo group, he is a wealth of knowledge on various topics and history, particularly the history of the area around Donalda, AB. (I have bugged him with many questions!) He showed me some cool old schools and some other interesting places. If it wasn't for the weather, I could've/would've explored a few more hours! The snow was coming down pretty good at some points, ruining what could've been some great photos but there is always another day. Hopefully this is the last of the snow and real Spring is coming soon. Stay tuned!

One of the areas that caught my interest was Ferry Point. The first settlers started arriving in this area on the Battle River in 1891. In 1902 a ferry was established to cross the Battle River and provide a link to the trails and on either side.  Around the same time a store and post office were established. Soon came a blacksmith shop, a feed mill, and a hotel. The actual Ferry Point Ferry only lasted until 1907 when a steel bridge was built. The town began to decline when the railroad bypassed it, as happened to many places who's fate was tied to the railroad. People and businesses began to relocate to neighbouring communities. In 1921 the Ferry Point Community Hall was moved away, leaving very little left to show that there was a community called Ferry Point.

A couple miles west of the townsite and river crossing is the Ferry Point Church and Cemetery. The former Ferry Point School was near the church also. The church was built in 1905 and is still looked after. What I found interesting was that is was never wired for electricity, it is as it always was. My tour guide Tim, told me that they still host a candlelight Christmas Eve service. This sounds absolutely charming and I would love to attend this someday.

The Ferry Point School was in operation from 1903-1949. It was then moved to Bashaw for use as a classroom, then as a teacherage and finally as a private residence. I hope it's still loved and lived in. This sign is on the corner of an occupied farm. The farm is still in the family of the man who donated the land for the Ferry Point School. That's pretty cool.

I have a bunch more great photos from this day but they will have to wait for my next post. Thanks to Tim for showing me around his neck of the woods!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend and Abandoned Vehicles

Final Resting Place

Not the same.
It has been over 2 weeks since I posted. I keep meaning to find a few moments to sit down and write a post but something always seems to get in the way. Also, I have not found the time to get out and explore in awhile so I had to improvise and drive down the highway to a spot I had made a mental note to stop at sometime.  I have a few of those spots close by, in case of emergency. Today was an emergency.  I have been cooped up for a few days, my son was sick and then I got sick, we even had to miss family Easter Dinner in Calgary. Fear not, I cooked a turkey today so I didn't have to miss out entirely. I am usually in charge of cranberry sauce when I go to family dinners and always make my own. Did you know you can't get fresh cranberries here this time of year? Or so the kid at Sobey's said. I had to get's just not the same as mine. SMH, as the kids say/text.

I always admire the photos I see of old vehicles that people just seem to find sitting in fields or somewhere. I always wonder how the ended up where they did and who they belong to. I've driven my share of back roads but rarely seem to see old vehicles. I've found a few but other people seem to find them easier than I do. It's makes it fun when I do see one though.

I headed out to the 'emergency' truck I have seen a bunch of times just west of my town, maybe a 10 min drive...if that. It made for a good photo and took a slight edge off my need to get out exploring. I swear it's like an addiction.

GMC something, I like old vehicles
but don't know enough to ID them.

Close up!

Grill n Chill

Outstanding in it's field. Summer 2016
Near Trochu, AB

Was told this is a Datsun 510 Coupe 1968-73.
Found near Valhalla Centre, AB. Feb. 2017

Also because it was just Easter weekend, here is a bonus photo! Even though both my son and I were not feeling too chipper we did dye some eggs and had an Easter egg hunt around the house on Sunday. Since my kiddo is not a huge fan of chocolate, the Easter Bunny brought him some Lego, which kept him occupied for at least 20 minutes.
This was not the weekend we all had planned but I guess we made the best of it. Also it's the playoffs so lots of hockey to watch!
Have a good week everyone and I will try and post more often.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Pink Lady

I have driven by the 'pink lady' at least once a month for the last 3 years.  In the summer when the trees are in bloom only the top of her roof can be seen.  When the trees are barren in the fall and winter, you can see more of this lovely old gal.  I am not sure why I decided that Friday was the day but I grabbed my camera and headed out to meet her. I had visions of the homeowner being so excited that someone was interested in their old house that they would grab the keys and say, "let me show you the inside!".  Wishful thinking.....but you never know!

The Pink Lady is on the property of a newer home and other outbuildings so I was really hoping someone was home. Lucky for me, the homeowner was home and allowed me to take photos.  She said it is over 110 years old.  I commented that it looked to be in not too bad of shape but she said the inside wasn't. I guess no inside tour. I thanked her and said I'd take a couple photos and be on my way.

I did peek in the windows as I was walking around, not much to see.  No furniture or anything but I could see some original architectural details like some lovely built in shelves and metal vent covers. These as well as the baseboards were painted a bright shade of sky blue.

I will continue to admire this house as I drive by from time to time.

Here is a song:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Barns! Barns! Barns!

Awesome barn near Vulcan, AB

Here at West of the 5th, we are crazy about barns!  So crazy that we are dedicating a whole post to barns. Big barns, little barns, red barns, white barns, falling down barns, gothic arch barns, hip roof barns, and a special (to me) barn. Also there is no 'we' here, just me!

When I first started exploring the back roads barns didn't interest me much. What was I thinking?? I now think of the pioneers who built these barns and how important they were. I am kind of in awe of them now. I love big barns and I cannot lie!

The first barn is interesting as it was a CPR Ready-Made barn. These were a part of packages that the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) used to entice people to settle in the area. 6 'demonstration farms' were set up in Alberta showcasing everything you'd need to settle here. Here is a link to my friends over at who did a wonderful post about one of these farms. You'll notice my barn and the demo barn are the same. Not fancy but they got the job done.
Thanks to Jason Paul Sailer for letting me know about the significance of this barn.

CPR Ready-Made barn, near Kirkcaldy, AB

Big Skies! Barn near Trochu, AB
Beautiful arched barn, south of Clive, AB
Moody old hip roof near Eckville, AB

Near Sylvan Lake, AB

Urban Barn, right in the middle of Calgary, 
St. Francis barn, south of Genesee, AB

Frosty barn near Delburne, AB

Fimrite Barn, Valhalla Centre, AB

Near La Glace, AB

Near Valhalla Centre, AB

Saggy midsection, near Tomahawk, AB

Near Crestomere, AB

Have a seat barn!
On Menaik Road north of Crestomere, AB
Hello! South of Alix, AB

Last but not least is the barn built in 1926 by my great grandfather on their homestead in Southern Saskatchewan. This was the same year my Grandma was born, she was 1 of 12 children to be born and raised here. Her stories about growing up there are amazing and I know the barn was a huge part of her childhood. I remember asking her once what it was like to grow up the Dirty 30's, she says, " I never knew we were poor!" The old barn collapsed in 1999. The farm was sold when my grandma's brother passed away.  He'd lived there his whole life.

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Date With Anthony Hill

I had spotted this school during some online research and satellite photos showed that it appeared to still be there. A friend got there before I did and confirmed it's glorious existence and I have been wanting to see it with my own eyes ever since. This weekend was my time, I had a few hours and good weather so off I went. Some of the back roads still had some snow, it was melting and muddy. Other roads were just fine and some were so rutted that it felt like I wasn't in control and I was on some kind of track.  Like the jeeps in Jurassic Park. maybe it wasn't that bad but still I don't the feeling of my car moving with the ruts.

This wonderful old school is Anthony Hill, it is near Usona, AB. There isn't much in Usona now. The first Anthony Hill school was built in 1904. The one pictured here was built in 1914 to accommodate a growing number of students. The original school was then moved to nearby land where it was used as the Usona store and post office. I have read in 2 different places that USONA stands for United States of North America. In 1958 the school closed and became a community centre. It was used at least into the 80's as someone commented to me that he attended car club meetings here.

I made my way through a snow bank onto the grounds of the school, it was a slushy soggy mess. I could see into the basement through an uncovered broken window. It had some wooden benches and other junk. I tried the front door and it was unlocked, I had to take a quick peek inside. Once you are in the door you can go right which takes you down a pitch black scary set of stairs to a dungeon or hell or the basement. I couldn't be sure. The other choice is up into the main school room. I chose to go towards the light. The stairs creaked menacingly but I pushed onward and upward, it was about 6 stairs. It was a typical one room school with, you guessed it, one large room. This one did have a separate small room at the top of the stairs.  A cloak room would be my guess. The bathroom is out back somewhere. I didn't spend a lot of time in here, get in, take some photos and get out. Touch nothing and take only pictures.

I love the look of this old school and spent a while just looking at it from the outside. I feel like Anthony Hill and I are buddies now so I shall call it Tony Hill, I might even come back for a second date if I'm in the area.

Looking In

Looking Out

Tony Hill

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tail Creek: The 8 Year Town

All that is left of Tail Creek Town
I have heard of the Tail Creek recreation area but I had no idea there was ever a town there.  Mind you, it wasn't a town for long only from 1870-1878. During this time is was the largest Metis settlement in the Northwest Territories (Alberta was not a Province until 1905). Tail Creek Town had roughly 400 log cabins. Historical reports say all the cabins were similar in style, log walls, pole roofs covered with earth and straw, animal hide windows, and hand hewn doors. The insides were plastered with mud and straw and said to be warm even in a blizzard. At it's peak there was 1500-2000 people in town. Tail Creek became a staging area for hunters looking for supplies such as food, saddles, harnesses, clothing, tents, etc. Meat and hides were traded with the Hudson's Bay Company post at Fort Edmonton (which at this time had a smaller population than Tail Creek). The harsh winters were passed by dancing and gambling. I can almost hear the fiddles and foot stomping revelry that surely carried on into the wee hours.

In 1875 a four man North West Mounted Police Detachment was set up in the town. It was needed to protect the people from rumored whiskey runners who were coming to set up shop. The original bad ass Canadian, Sam Steele, was there during this period to handle the situation. He was to be disappointed though as the rumors did not amount to anything and he didn't get to arrest any smugglers.

By 1878 with the buffalo gone, the town population dwindled.  A devastating fire swept the through the area destroying everything but one cabin and the cemetery.  Just like that, gone. That one surviving cabin is at the Stettler Historical Museum.

I came upon this cemetery by accident, which is what is so addicting about back road exploring. I don't normally check out cemeteries but I couldn't resist this one. I crossed the plank bridge over the ditch and opened the gate. The cemetery is quite large but only the back corner had graves. I suppose the settlers assumed there'd be people in the area for a long time and a large cemetery would be needed.

Some Metis families stayed in the area and a plaque has been mounted in the cemetery to honour them as some of the first permanent residents of the area.

Entrance to the Tail Creek Cemetery
Monument to the Metis settlers of the area

There were only a couple readable headstones, one that had fallen over, a broken cross and a dozen or so wooden crosses with no discernible writing. Seems sad to not know who was buried there, is it the people listed on the plaque? The most recent death was Isabella House who died in 1917, the other readable marker was her husband James, who died in 1897. Besides the memorial plaque, and a Metis flag, there was some fabric pieces (I have been told these could be prayer cloths) on the entrance gate and an old shovel on a tree. I felt a touch of melancholy looking at this place that seems almost forgotten. I think though that as long as myself and others know about it, it won't be truly forgotten.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

These are a Few of my Favourite Calgary Things

A River Runs Through It.  Bow River, Calgary. 
Have you ever been to a dueling pianos show?  If not, I highly recommend it.  I went last night with 7 other ladies out without their kids and most of us moms needed a night out...badly. It was a great night and subsequently blogging is hard today.

Calgary Tower 191m tall
I have mentioned before that I was born and raised in Calgary and lived there for over 3 decades until 3 years ago.  I have seen lots of changes over the years, I used to live near the edge of the city and played and rode my bike in dirt fields and now there are houses as far as the eye can see. The old saying, "you can get anywhere in 20 minutes" used to be true and I could get just about anywhere I needed to go in 20 minutes.  Now I could maybe do that at 3am. With no traffic. While speeding. There are communities I've never heard of and it seems like the drivers have become even worse every time I come home. Still it's home and I love it. Nothing beats the view of the downtown skyline with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

I have been going through some of my photos and love remembering what I was doing when I took each photo. I also see lots of photos I've taken, and the building or sign is now gone, which is sad.  Some places though have been restored or renovated which is nice to see! Always good to preserve history, I wish it happened more.

'Wonderland' by Jaume Plensa,  AKA Big Giant Head. Sculpture outside the Bow Tower,
now the 2nd tallest building in Calgary now that the Brookfield Place is being built. 

Glass Floor of the Calgary Tower Observation Deck. 
Frosst Books Building in Inglewood, now demolished. 
I am a big fan of Oddments.  Building now demolished.
St. Louis Hotel, now restored and open! Ralph Klein Drank Here!
The glass building in the background is City Hall.

Refurbished Eamon's sign at the Tuscany Train Station
No post of mine, about Calgary, would be complete with out mention of Eamons Bungalow Camp. This used to be along Crowchild Trail in NW Calgary and was a "One Stop" Tourist Centre, drive in diner, gas station, and motel. I can just picture all the cool 50's style cars stopping here on their way west!

It opened in 1949 and closed for good in the mid 60's when the Trans Canada highway was completed and this route became less traveled. It was eventually moved to make for development and the Tuscany C-Train Transit expansion. The actual service station building sat in a city storage yard for years as it's fate was decided. It was eventually sold for $10 after costing the city to keep it in storage. Not everyone saw the value in this piece of history but I am sure tax payer dollars have been spent on more foolish things. It was purchased in 2016 by a non-profit group called the River City Classics, who are restoring the garage. Great to hear!! The city did refurbish the sign and installed it as art at the train station.  Love it!

Fun fact about the Eamon's site, in 1986 it was used in a music video by Canadian signer Corey Hart called I Am By Your Side.

Here are some more of my fave signs from around town:

The Stampde Grounds, Home of the
Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, 

Vintage neon bowling sign. Love.

My favourite vintage neon in town.
No longer a restaurant but the sign was saved.
Jim's Shoe Repair. Sign gone now.

This barely touches on my favourite places and photos of Calgary, but after several years exploring Calgary I have accumulated a lot of photos.  More another day!