Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Leaning Church of Bresaylor, SK

Bresaylor, Saskatchewan. What can I say about this place that will accurately portray my short time there? I am not a writer, in fact I have always disliked writing. I like to think of myself as a recreational photographer who has to say something about the photos I take. I am fully aware that my writing could be better and I look up synonyms a lot to avoid using the same words over and over. I really hope the pictures tell the story when I cannot.

Photo Courtesy of Sask History Online

A friend suggested I stop and see a church in Bresaylor.  I noticed that it was not far from Paynton, so I added it to my stops. I thought Bresaylor was a town but it's what's left of a town and is now a heritage museum. If you look at the historic photo above, you can see it was a small village with 2 grain elevators across the road and the church in the top right, where it still sits. There is still a grain elevator across the highway, it's privately owned and repainted to read 'Blais Farms'. I read it is the old Federal Elevator as pictured above. It also appears to have been moved a bit west and turned a quarter turn judging by the buildings I recognize in the photo and where I was standing when I took the photo.

There was not a person in sight in Bresaylor but a sign that pointed to a house that said Museum Office and Gift Shop. The door was not open so I looked it up online and called a number that came up...I didn't come all this way to not see the church and I didn't want to go traipsing through someones property. A did get someone on the phone and asked if I could just take photos of the church and be on my way. She offered to come let us into the museum but warned they hadn't been cleaned or made ready for visitors. I didn't want to bother her and make her come from wherever she was but she insisted it was no trouble and to give her 10 minutes. While waiting for her we walked to the church, through a maze of fences and openings, and took some photos. I was instantly infatuated with this old, tilted, quirky looking church.

I assumed the lady I spoke to lived close but she came out of one of the houses in 'town'. I mistakenly thought that no one lived there. Oops. I had just met Velma, the museum curator, resident, groundskeeper and owner of the church. Velma was originally from the area but it was when she had returned to visit relatives that she found out the church was not being used, this drew her back to the area. She bought the church and actually lived in for a time. The church, Ste. Anne's Anglican, was built in 1906, coinciding with the arrival of the railroad, although services had been held in various homes and schools since 1882. The last service was held in 1966 for Joseph Sayers Sr. Velma has had the church foundation repaired but as you can see it has a lean to it due to being it being partially lifted and plopped back down during a tornado! The cost is too much to restore it completely.

The name Bresaylor is a mix of the 3 founding family names, the Bremners, the Sayers, and the Taylors. These M├ętis families had come here from Manitoba together in 1882. The museum contains artifacts from these early settlers as well as from the Barr Colonists who settled the area a bit later, around 1903. There is a ton of interesting history here!

Office and Gift Shop, former Bresaylor elevator across the highway

The Main museum house is known as the Alex Lennie house and was added to the Register of Canada's Historic Places in 2009. It was built in 1907. You can see this house (and possibly the office) in the historic photo, it is also still in it's original place. More on this house can be found here. Velma let us in through the back of the house. Inside the back entry the floor felt a bit soft under the old linoleum, I am guessing people normally enter through the front door. The museum as well as the office in the other house, were full of photos, old tools, kitchen implements, gadgets, the old post office window, and old Apple Mac computer (like I had in the late 80's at school), cobwebs, memories and history. These kinds of places are the types of places you need to see more than once because chances are you've missed something. I can't believe I didn't take photos inside! I guess I was busy listening to Velma. You can tell how much she cares about this place and it made me wonder what will become of it in the future?

The marker reads: This Plaque was Dedicated in the Jubilee Year 1955 to Honour the Pioneers who
Founded the Bresaylor Settlement in the N.W.T ? to 1905. Year unreadable but 1882 would make sense.

School Marker for Federal School #4048 1918-?
I gave Velma my address (mail not email) so I can receive the Bresaylor newsletter. I'd like to visit again and keep up with the activities. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Merna and Giant Mosquitoes

Photo Courtesy of the Sedgewick and Lougheed United Churches 

Merna is an area in Central Alberta, East of Forestburg and South of Sedgewick. I passed this area recently and pulled over to take quick a photo of a quaint looking church and cemetery right beside the highway. I made a mental note to look it up later as it was pouring rain and giant blood thirsty mosquitoes tried to gain access into my car as soon as I opened the windows. I'm not even kidding, they were the biggest mosquitoes I have ever seen. If they were smart enough to organize such a thing, they could've carried my 7 y/o away. Me that's another story, too heavy to be carried away by giant winged things. The moral of the story here is skinny people will be carried away. Go eat carbs, or cake! Also did you know a group of mosquitoes is called a scourge? Fitting.

Courtesy of Google Street View Aug 2013
The research for this one had me a bit puzzled....briefly. I though it was a different church that was also in the area and kept getting confused by a map that showed them in the same general area but the history and descriptions didn't match.  I finally found an old photo that confirmed that it is, without a doubt, Merna United Church, built in 1907.

Luckily the Google car was on this lonely stretch of highway in August of 2013. (How do I apply for that job??). As you can see from that photo to mine below, the church is sporting a spiffy new coat of paint. I kind of like the timeworn look but the bright new white coat of paint means someone is still looking after this place, which is nice too. I wonder what became of the old sign?

**Update** I just heard from the Secretary at of the Sedgewick and Lougheed United Churches, who told me that the Merna Community is alive and well. The church holds an annual service. This years service happened to be yesterday, June 18, 2017, and was followed by a potluck picnic. Sounds lovely and I am delighted to hear that the community spirit continues.

Merna United Church

Merna Cemetery

A neat barn just East of Merna United Church. 

Happy Monday everyone, watch out for scourges of giant mosquitoes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Finding Salvation in Paynton, SK

Aerial view of Paynton, courtesy of Sask History Online
Sometimes you forget about a place. I had forgot about Paynton.

I had a family friend years ago who was from Paynton, SK. I had not heard his name or the name of the town in years. It certainly didn't occur to me that I would be close to there on my recent trip to Lloydminster. However, when I was looking at my map, I saw it on my route and knew I'd have to stop there. After my stop in Waseca, we passed Maidstone and then arrived in Paynton. Much like Waseca it has a population of around 150 people. Unlike Waseca, it no longer has any grain elevators.

Some history for you! Paynton was settled in 1888 by 3 retired constables of  the North West Mounted Police. In 1903 Rev. Isaac Barr, who had secured a large area of land, brought 2000 colonists from England to settle the area. They are known as the Barr Colonists. Along the journey to the new colony, bickering lead to many of the colonists leaving to form their own communities. Some settled in Paynton and more settlers soon followed. It was incorporated in 1907.

Silver Maple.
I drove the quiet, unpaved streets and took photos of a couple of churches that have been converted into homes. I wasn't able to get in contact with my friend so I did another loop and was about to leave when I noticed someone outside one of the churches. The first person I had seen in town! This church was surrounded by a mix of outdoor decor and what I would call folk art. I stopped to ask the lady about it and she asked if I'd like to see inside the church. Uhhhh, ya I would! Her name is Mariann and she has turned the church into the Salvation Art Gallery. It features some of her art, art work by locals, and some antiques. Most of the pieces are made from recycled materials. I picked out a small metal deer figure and a tea cup and saucer set in my pattern that she happened to have. (Yes, I have a china pattern, see photo.)

The church needs some work, and renovations are ongoing (to be expected in a century old building and not cheap I'm sure). The interior though!! (insert wow face). The rich mahogany coloured wood seemed to shine and the vintage pendant lights were gorgeous. From what I read this was originally a Presbyterian Church built in 1909 and turned over to the United Church in 1925. Perhaps they added the lights, if I have my style era right.

I imagine living in a historic building, church or house has it's pros and cons. I could picture myself doing something like that someday and admire the commitment it must take to keep a place like that going.

I enjoyed looking at everything in the church and chatting with Mariann, and because it is a small town, she knew my friend and directed me to of the houses he might be at. Turned out he wasn't in town after all that. Figures.

I heard later that there are 3 former churches that are all homes now. I didn't see the 3rd one. If you look at the old photo at the top you can see the United Church in the bottom right. I think I see the 2 other churches as well but I can't be 100% sure.

Former Catholic Church, now private residence. 
A new history book of Paynton has been written and is being released this fall. I think I will look into getting a copy. Happy travels! Next Saskatchewan stop is Bresaylor!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Foto Frenzy

Butze Elevator. Abandoned. 

Alternate title spelling: Phriday Photo Phrenzy. I am not a fan/phan of either honestly but it's been a long week, I am in a disagreeable mood and I got nothin' else.

I take a lot of photos, some are just shots of things that don't really warrant a whole blog post. Most of these can be seen over on Instagram. I made a deal with myself to post a new photo at least once a day for the entire year. So far so good. If you are on the 'gram, feel free to check my photos out @jennspix.

Here is a random assortment of some recent photos from my travels around East Central Alberta and a shot or 2 across the border into Saskatchewan. In no particular order....

Wimborne, AB

Amisk, AB

Near Provost, AB

Near Consort, AB

Macklin, SK
Are you saying to yourself, 'what the heck is a bunnock?' Well it is a game of Russian origin played with horse bones (bunnocks). The object is to knock over the other teams bunnocks. Think curling/bowling on a field but with horse bones. Fun! Macklin holds an annual Bunnock tournament, If Bunnock is your jam, then get your bunnocks to Macklin in August!

South of Wainwright, AB

North of Macklin, SK

Between Macklin, SK and Chauvin, AB. 

Near Wimborne, AB

Castor, AB

North End School, north of Macklin, SK

North of Czar, AB

Edgerton AB Museum

Battle Valley School now at the Edgerton Museum.
It is almost the end of Friday, I hope you enjoyed the photos and have an excellent weekend! Comments always welcome. I love hearing from you!
I am hoping a good sleep will find me in a better mood tomorrow.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Good Hope Church & Cemetery

This church has been on my radar for awhile. I had planned to go here a couple of times and never actually made it, something else always came up. On the evening of May 28th I was heading to Sylvan Lake from Calgary and decided, last minute, to take a short detour. It was getting late but I thought I might get some nice light. I found the church easy enough, not too far from the town of Torrington, AB. Situated along a dusty back road, encompassed by trees, it was just how you'd picture a rustic little country church. It was a ideal summery evening, a warm breeze, beautiful golden light and no sounds of civilization. I can imagine someone standing on this same spot 100 years ago, turning west to face the same warm setting sun, closing their eyes and just being in the moment. Oh the feels!

My son, who I am hoping will appreciate all these adventures, quickly noticed that the lock on the church door was broken. I took a peek inside and secured the door as best I could.  A few days later I got in touch with the proper person and told him of the broken door lock. He was already aware of it and didn't seem too concerned as there is nothing of value inside. I think the old pews are simple and beautiful and am glad they are still there. He also told me that they have a Father's Day picnic there every year, which makes me happy that this place isn't totally lost to 'progress' and time.

I was surprised to see, or rather to not see, a marker of any kind here. Not even for the cemetery. In fact I didn't even know the name of the church until I contacted a local historian.

Church in front, outhouse in the back

Shots, shots, shots!
There is a small cemetery located here, a handful of graves only. I was surprised to see a relatively recent date of 2006 on one of them.

I will hopefully have some more information on this church and maybe even an old photo of it at some point soon (I have been working on it!), but wanted to post the photos now since I kind of fell in love with this spot. I have no previous connections to this place or area but I had a wonderfully peaceful feeling while I was there.

Thanks to BWBandy for sharing this one with me.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wandering through Waseca, SK

I had reason to visit Lloydminster this weekend so I figured, why not? I haven't ever been to that area of the province, so this blogger left the familiar Alberta backroads and took the show on the road. Lloydminster is an interesting place, it has the distinction of being part in Alberta and part in Saskatchewan, earning it the nickname of the Border City. Fun fact....the border between the 2 provinces is also the 4th Meridian.

I knew I wanted to explore in Saskatchewan but didn't have a lot of time, so between visiting and doing fun stuff with the kiddo, I found a few hours and headed east on Highway 16. You may think driving through Saskatchewan is boring but there seems to be enough little towns along the way to make it interesting. I always say I will stop in every new town I pass but this weekend didn't allow for all of them. I passed Marshall and Lashburn, but stopped in Waseca (upon recommendation from a friend, but I would have stopped there anyway after seeing the unmistakable shapes of some interesting looking prairie skyscrapers in the distance). The village of Waseca has roughly 150 residents, 2 cool old grain elevators and some seriously bumpy unpaved roads. I loved it.

Here are a few images of Waseca:

Welcome to Waseca!
Waseca 1911-2011. Found along the rail line.

On the corner of 1st Ave NE and 1st Street E, you'll find the Waseca Fire Hall. The old fire truck has Humboldt written on it. Humboldt is a town about 3.5 hours SE of Waseca.

Waseca Fire Hall

On the other corner of 1st and 1st is the Christ Anglican Church. It was built in 1907 and added to the register of Canada's Historic Places in 2010. It is one of the oldest buildings in Waseca and is at it's original location. It was used over the years by Anglican, Presbyterian and United Church congregations. Services stopped in 1979. The Waseca Heritage Committee maintains the building and it is still occasionally used.

Christ Anglican Church 
My main reason for visiting was to see the grain elevators. A Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and a Federal Grain Ltd. You can still make out the words on the front and sides. The rest of the town was a bonus! From what I can gather the elevators are privately owned, not sure how much they are used. There was no activity when I was there, anywhere. I saw no people the entire time I was there. Also faint but legible at the top of the Wheat Pool elevator are the words, "Use Pool Co-Op Flour."

I enjoyed Waseca, now onto the next stop down the highway.