Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Storm and St. Paul's at Sunset

I had intended to head west a bit on Sunday to visit another school and explore a bit. The skies were overcast but I figured I had enough time. As I headed west the skies got darker and darker, the wind picked up and the smoke from the BC wildfires became much more noticeable, leaving everything hazy and with a smoky smell that was coming in through the vents. We are a few hundred kilometers from the wildfires and still have smoky conditions, I feel for those affected and hope everyone is safe and sound.

I decided to head home as the rain was starting. I saw several very close lightening strikes and pulled over briefly to take a photo. I spotted some fortuitously placed old buildings and took my shot quickly as the rainfall started to intensify. By the time I was part way home the rain had turned into hail and visibility was poor. I got home, relocated some flower baskets to the safety of the covered porch. The petunias suffered minor injuries. Nothing to do now but get cozy in the house, perhaps watch a movie. Which is precisely what we did. Also the photo turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

The sun came out again shortly and I thought it might be a good opportunity to head to a church that wasn't too far away and take some photos as the sun was setting. I headed east this time and found the church. No storms on the horizon this time, but still a smoky haze.

A sign on the fence says St. Paul's Anglican Church was consecrated in April 1899.  However a church was not built until 1905, it was made of logs that had to be rafted down the Red Deer River. The first service was held on July 2, 1905 and the church and adjoining yard (for use as a cemetery) were formally consecrated by the Bishop in September of 1905.

On April 17, 1910 a devastating wildfire destroyed the church and many surrounding homes. The alter cloth and a few furnishings were saved. Funds were raised and work began in the fall on a new church with the first service being held on October 1, 1911.  Services are still held on the 3rd Sunday of every month.

Could there be a more perfect little country church?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Brief Moment in Diamond Valley

It only takes a moment to pass by Diamond Valley on the highway, blink and you will literally miss it.

Diamond Valley is south of Eckville, AB. Not to be confused with the Diamond Valley area in Southern Alberta. The former is an unincorporated area that used to be the centre of a pioneer community. The latter is an area in Southern Alberta encompassing several thriving communities.

The subject Diamond Valley was named after a diamond shaped valley covered with trees, I did not see the valley nor do I know where it is....but it must have been nearby. Maybe I was in it! This area is on a secondary highway and I have passed by it several times. I almost always stop for a picture of the old school, the red metal roof really stands out and you can see it peeking over the tree tops as you drive towards it. The church is across the highway and NE of the church and school (on a gravel road) is the Diamond Valley Cemetery.

The school operated from 1911-1944. It closed for 3 years. Unsure why, but not for lack of enrollment. 47 students had to be relocated. It opened again from 1947-1954. In 1967 it became the Diamond Valley Community Centre. It appears unused today, but the land in front is used for access to some granaries and a farmers field.

Prior to 1936, the school house and private homes had been used as places of worship from a variety of denominations. After using the schoolhouse for 2 years, it was decided that a log church would be built. The men who worked on the church toiled through the winter, cutting and hauling the logs 10 miles to the church site. Construction began in the Spring and was completed and dedicated in the late Summer of 1936. At that time, it was affiliated with the Apostolic Church of Pentecost. Later on as the congregation grew, the need for more room became apparent, the adjacent building was added for Sunday School rooms. Currently its called the Diamond Valley Full Gospel Church.

When I was by this area in June, the grounds had been freshly mowed. I am not sure if regular services happen here anymore. I like the log construction of this church and glad it is cared for.

If anyone reading this has additional info on the area, I would love to hear it. Thank you!

References: Homesteads & Happiness; Pioneering With a Piece of Chalk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

As Seen in Central Alberta: Gadsby, Botha and More!

While on a day trip to the Stettler Town and Country Museum this weekend, (fantastic place and subject of a future post!), I made a couple of pit stops. OK...like 5 pit stops. Mainly to view 2 old schools that a friend brought to my attention. I love finding old schools on my own, either by chance or by research, but after seeing photos of these two, I knew I had to go in person. Also, it just goes to show that even after being all over an area there is always some roads you haven't been down yet.

The first stop was at the former Shooting Lake School. It was originally opened from 1907-1938, the building was condemned by the County and sold for use as a barn. In 1949 Mathano School was moved to the district and became Shooting Lake School (version 2.0), until 1953 when it became a Community Centre. It's in rough shape, open to the elements and appears to have a crumbling foundation. Glad I saw it now before it's gone.

The second school, can be found in a neighboring district and is called Big Knife. In case you were wondering, yes, there was also a Little Knife nearby. Big Knife operated from 1906-1943. It was sold to the Halkirk School District in 1954 and then sold again in 1964 to a local farmer. It stands in the same location today.

Just north of these schools is Gadsby. It is the 'Smallest Village in Alberta'. The 2016 population was 40, up from 25 in 2011.  Population boom!! There are a few interesting buildings, including a church with a very steep peaked roof.  It piqued my curiosity. I'd love a peek inside this beautiful old place. There was no sign or marker outside, but I read that this was the Gadsby United Church built in 1910. It has been repainted sometime in or around 2010.

There is also an old 2 storey brick former bank building, common design in many small towns it seems. That picture is not included here (technical difficulties). Also found an old store front with mostly unintelligible words...I can see 'Service Shop' and 'Repairs'. Also, likely newer old writing, 'Ye Ole Ice Cream Shoppe'.

Peaked and Piqued! 

Garage/Ice Cream Shoppe, probably not at the same time.
Next stop, Botha! To pay a visit my favourite old building. I think you can see why from the photo. It's even haunted, if you believe in that sort of thing. Unfortunately its been boarded up more recently. It's sad to see this majestic building boarded up.

Last but not least, a barn. One of my favourites. It was fall last time I saw it, so it's nice to see it in the summer surrounded by lush green fields.

Happy to see me?

Special thanks to Tim for the tips on the schools and to my kiddo for coming on another adventure with me. There's no one I'd rather be with on a backroad trip.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Auburndale: Massachusetts to Alberta

I drove by this area on my travels, and since it would be wrong to pass by an old church or school without stopping, I stopped.

Auburndale is an unincorporated area in East Central Alberta, between Vermilion and Wainwright. Like many of these areas, it used to be the centre of a community. I spotted what looked like a school then the Church and cemetery. In reading more about this place, I found that a post office was in operation here from 1907-1944. The first postmaster was L.W.Crowe from Auburndale, Massachusetts.

More often than not, the community centre was once a school. The Auburndale School, as it was originally called, opened in 1908. In 1917 it changed names to become Battleview School. The Battleview School was centralized with 3 other schools in 1954. The Battleview Community Association then bought the school in 1955. I am not 100% sure if this is that school but with the original Auburndale name. I have seen that happen before so it is a plausible explanation.

Auburndale Community Centre

The Auburndale Church building was completed in 1924, but there has been missionaries in the area since 1908. Upon formation of the United Church of Canada on June 10, 1925, the Auburndale United Church was dedicated that afternoon, giving it the distinction of being the first church to be dedicated under the newly formed United Church. Boooom, HISTORY!

Auburndale United Church

Have a great weekend everybody! Alberta is in the middle of a 'heat wave', so I will be enjoying the sun and also enjoying my cool basement when I have had enough heat...the best of both worlds!

References: Pioneering With a Piece of Chalk; Earnest Minded Men: An Account of Local Government in the County of Vermilion River.

July 12th - Update! Thank you to everyone who has read and shared this post, it has reached more people than my usual posts, which makes my day!  If anyone has old photos of the Auburndale area, I would love to see them! My email is jktanaka@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Canada 150 and Staycation Destination: Wetaskiwin AB

Sunset on Sylvan Lake

I just had 6 days off and am now back to work...needless to say, I am a bit tired today. It also means that I have time to catch up on reading blogs and work on some posts that have been partially forming in my vacation mode brain.

Over the long weekend we celebrated Canada Day (the big 1-5-0, did you know a 150th anniversary is called a sesquicentennial?) by visiting family in Calgary for a BBQ, we also had friends over, did some bike riding, yard work, sat on the patio and enjoyed the nice weather. Even though we live in a lake town, we only went down to the lake once for an evening walk and some ice cream.

There are so many great museums and attractions close by so we are going to be doing a lot of 'staycations' this year. One that we visited over the long weekend was the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, which is about an hour north of home. This huge museum focuses on transportation, aviation, agricultural machinery and industrial equipment. The current exhibit is the McLaughlin Story, telling the tale of the McLaughlin family and their contribution to the automobile industry.

There are dozens of vehicles on display, from restored to as-is. This is definitely the place for lovers of vintage automobiles! Stroll through the main gallery and take a transportation trip through time, from horse drawn carriage to early autos, 1920's grain elevator (with working parts to show how an elevator operates), 1930's service station and 1950's drive in movie theater. The aviation display is in another building and is jammed full from floor to ceiling (outside as well) with early flying 'contraptions' to vintage aircraft. This is only a fraction of their collection, which is the 2nd largest in Canada. Outside is also where you'll find the gigantic 1917 Bycyrus Dragline and a variety of agricultural equipment. I could've taken dozen of photos...here are a few highlights:

Clear the road!

I would love to own a 40's era truck, I am taking donations. Any make is fine.

Neon signs, another of my favourite things


Royal Canadian Air Force jet


On the way to Wetaskiwin, you can't miss picturesque St. John's Lutheran Church and Cemetery. Of course I stopped for a photo. Beside the church is a vacant house that is for sale. I thought it might be where the Pastor lived? In any case it appears to be for sale separate from the church. I couldn't confirm if the church was still in regular use but it is well cared for and looks to be in great condition.

Matching Mailbox!

Also, because I have never been to Wetaskiwin, we took some time and drove around town. They have a 'Prehistoric' Downtown, as my son said he read on a sign. Pretty sure it said 'historic' but we were on the lookout for dinosaurs just in case.

Ghost sign, now. 
Ghost sign, then. Courtesy of Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum

Ghost sign and neon!

Wok On!
I hope everyone had a good Canada Day and a hope it was a Happy 4th of July for my American friends!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

That's a Wrap! Part 3: The Ranch House

I intended to post Part 3 (of this 3 part series) closer to the first 2 but other adventures happened and more photos got taken and truth be told, I am not very organized. So there you have it.

If you've been reading my blog, you may recall my trip to a western movie set in Southern Alberta earlier in May with the BigDoer team. You can view the previous posts here if you'd like:
Part 1: Outlaw Camp
Part 2: Western Town

Scene from Monte Walsh (Google Images)
The Ranch set was were I took the most photos. The sun was setting while we were there which made for a totally different set of photos from when we first arrived. I got to play around a bit with my camera and try some different settings.

There was a main house, a couple other smaller houses/shacks, a barn and a shed that inside looked like a blacksmith shop. The main house appeared to be a beautiful grand stone building. Upon closer inspection it was a hard foam like material made to look like stone. Well done set designers, well done. Just for fun above is a photo of the house in the movie 'Monte Walsh' starring Tom Selleck. Of course, there have been many movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos filmed here but this is the only still I could find showing the house. I don't even mind Tom Selleck blocking part of it.

There isn't much I haven't already said in the other parts of this series. The backdrop of the foothills and Rocky Mountains will forever take my breath away no matter how many times I see it (and I grew up in the area!). These buildings look like they belong here and it certainly doesn't feel like a movie set. I wonder what it is like when filming is happening? I imagine a lot of people running around making sure everything is just right. Perhaps a director on a megaphone shouting directions and actors and actresses in costume waiting for their scene. QUIET ON SET!

Barn full of prop animal skulls
One of my hosts, Chris of 'BigDoer' in his signature yellow jacket

Thanks again to Chris and Connie for allowing me to tag along on this adventure! I had an amazing time and took a ton of photos and enjoyed the company, hope to do it again in the future!