Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bulwark: A Prairie Ghost Town


Bulwark is a true ghost town, not a living soul left there. Just a few scattered buildings, rusty cars and machinery that hint at what used to be.

I have been wanting to see Bulwark for awhile, even before I knew the significance it held to some close friends of mine. Seeing it recently was even more special once I found out that their grandparents (Lundy) homesteaded near Bulwark.

Settlers has arrived in the area in the early 1900's. However, Bulwark officially formed as a village when the railway came north from Coronation in 1914. Bulwark became a busy hub in the middle of a large grain district. It was home to 5 grain elevators, 3 lumber yards, 2 general stores, a hardware store, garage, post office, 2 churches (United and Catholic), a school, bank, butcher, drug store, livery, dance hall, pool hall, blacksmith and even a real estate office.

The first post office, originally called Lindsville, operated from 1908-1916. The name was changed to Bulwark, and it as operated as such from 1916-1965. It is speculated that due to Bulwark being in the proximity of royal themed settlements such as Coronation, Consort, and Throne, that Bulwark was named according to that theme. Perhaps a less obvious reference than the aforementioned communities. I am still not exactly sure how a bulwark fits in here, but Bulwark it is!

In the 1960's the railway closed the line that passed Bulwark. The population was already on the decline and the was the proverbial nail in the coffin. Businesses began to close permanently and the people moved away. The last store to close was the Ogilvie General Merchant.

c.1950's. Ogilvie General Merchant
I just love this photo below! It was shown to me by Marvin Dolling through a photo group I am part of online. His Uncle owned the general store, from which this photo was taken. He thinks it was called the Bulwark General Store and that it also housed the post office. The building seen in the picture is the Atlas Garage and in the background you can see the 5 prairie skyscrapers.

c. 1940's. Courtesy of Marvin Dolling. 
Our first stop was Bulwark Cemetery, to pay our respects to the Lundy family buried there. I always take a moment of reflection when visiting pioneer cemeteries.


Down the road from the cemetery is the old townsite. You can see how Google maps shows streets where there is only farmland now. We explored Kitchener Street from Roberts Ave. to Beatty Ave. French Ave. is where the grain elevators once stood, you can still see part of an old grain elevator annex along the long pulled up rail line.




Free parking



There is a house in those bushes.

Rub a dub dub


Former site of Bulwark School, along former Kitchener Street

A solid foundation.

Former residence? 


Interestingly, the old Pioneer elevator from Bulwark ended up on a farm belonging to another Lundy family member, thus saving it from demolition. Looking north and a bit west from the Lundy elevator you can see a 2nd elevator, also originally from Bulwark and still being used on another farm. The other 3 elevators that used to be in Bulwark are long gone.

Former Pioneer Grain elevator from Bulwark
Even though the Lundy elevator is only 1 of the original 5 and not in it's original location, I can get a sense of the view the farmers must have had as they hauled grain to the elevators. Threshing crews worked long hard days and the farmers at that time hauled even in the winter with teams of horses pulling several wagons. This province was built on the hard work of these people and you can feel that when visiting a place like Bulwark.

Almost there
As always, if anyone has stories or photos of Bulwark, I would love to see/hear them!

Thanks to Cindy and Callee Lundy for letting me tag along. The next post will be about the old homestead! 💖

References: Pioneering with a Piece of Chalk; In the Beginning: A History of Coronation, Throne, Federal and Fleet Districts; Place Names of Alberta Vol. III Central Alberta
Photos taken on Sept 4, 2017.


18 comments:

  1. You are much smarter than I am. I drove here and took photos in -30C weather.

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    1. LOL I'm smarter but you're braver, I do not like winter travelling.

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  2. Great photos! Love the historical ones too.

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    1. Thanks Debra, I love when I can find a historical photo to go with my photos.

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  3. This is very very awesome and interesting :) Thank you Jenn!

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  4. Such a proud history! I love these posts, Jenn.

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    1. Thanks Marie, I enjoy finding them and learning more about them.

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  5. Bulwark was a happening place! Great post as usual. Thanks, Jenn.

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    1. Thanks Michael! It sure was...it amazes me how these places just disappear.

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  6. Great story and photos. I love seeing what the place looked like when it was a bustling community.

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    1. Thanks Vicki! I love being able to add the old photos, makes it more real.

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  7. Great writeup of a fascinating prairie ghost town.

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    1. Thanks Steve! I can't imagine what it must be like to have lived there and then see it now.

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  8. Hi Jenn :) I LOVE this ghost town! Beautiful photos and thanks for always posting such interesting stories!!! Gotta love the free parking! :)

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    1. Thanks Rain! It was such an interesting place to be and stand where there used to be a busy village.

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  9. It's nice to be able to read about these ghost towns. Reminds me of the pioneers in Alaska. Raise a family, work the land, then eventually leave the town when there is nothing to support you. It's sad but it seems to happen in a lot of places. In Alaska it was the gold rush that brought the people and when that dried up, the people and the towns disappeared.
    Excellent post, a wonderful narrative and great photos. Very nice, Jenn!

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    1. Thanks Bill! The gold rush is fascinating also! In British Columbia there are lots of old mining ghost towns...I hope to explore there someday.

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