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!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Faux Brick - Just Say No to Faux

Wonderful Wanda

I have seen several old school houses that at some point were covered in a hideous looking faux brick looking asphalt shingle type material.  I am sure at the time it was cost effective and seemed like a good idea but it looks terrible and covers up the original school which is what I like to see. I'm also sure it was done with good intentions to prolong the life of the building. Still, it's ugly. Just my opinion...stucco and siding covered schools will be future posts haha.

Despite their unsightly exteriors they are still schools and they still exist. Which is all that matters, since so many were torn down, moved, or dismantled.

Prepare to be schooled:


Wanda School
Calkins Valley School
Ridgewood School
Howell's Lake School
That's it for today, short and sweet. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Cummings Sawmill: From Saginaw, MI to Gull Lake, Alberta


I always stop at roadside signs, you never know what you'll learn. Found this as I was cruising by the west end of Gull Lake. We have enjoyed many days on the beach at Gull Lake so it's cool to learn something about it's history.  The marker reads:

In the year, 1898, Thomas Cummings and family came from Saginaw, Michigan to Gull Lake, and set up a sawmill on the west side of the lake.  In 1898, they also built a boat. They called it the "Kangaroo"
The Kangaroo was used to haul logs to the mill and lumber to the east side of Gull Lake,  The boat was first a sailboat. But, in 1900, they changed it to steam. In 1900, the water got so high, they moved the sawmill to the east side of the lake, They hauled the logs across the lake with the boat.
By 1906, they ran out of timber and moved the mill west of Leedale. The boat was then used for a pleasure craft.
In about 1915, the boat got loose in a bad wind storm and drifted northwest along the lake, to a point 2 miles north of where it had been built. It was beached on the west side of Gull Lake.
In 1916, it was taken apart for salvage. The boat was 84 feet long and 19 feet wide.
The Cummings Sawmill and boat was the first machinery west of Lacombe, in 1898.

Here are photos from the Glenbow Archives, the same ones on the marker:

c. 1900-1901

c. 1900-1903

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rutherford - A School, a District and a Premier

The Dignified Rutherford

Boarded Up
I have been trying to post on Mondays but I have had other things on my mind all day and could not get my brain or fingers to formulate the post I had planned. So I am borrowing an idea from my friend BWBandy, you might remember him from such blogs as Everybody Has to be Somewhere. He recently visited Rutherford School and posted about it today. I have also been there (before him, I might add, which doesn't happen often). I visited in the fall so it's neat to see the difference a season makes (another juxtaposition!).

The marker states it's dates from 1902-1949, but other sources say it wasn't open until 1907 and closed in 1952.  It was named Rutherford after the first Premier of Alberta, Alexander Rutherford, who served from 1905-1910. (I hope I never see a Notley School). After the school closed, some of the local families purchased the building and it became a community hall.  It looks like it hasn't been used in a few years, the door is boarded up and the grass is over grown.  A new-ish metal roof suggests it wasn't boarded up until recently, maybe a decade or so? I don't really know. Down the road to the West is the Earlville-Rutherford Cemetery. Many of Rutherford's pioneers and their families are buried here. Earlville was the name of the co-operative creamery that the pioneers founded in 1905 and ran successfully for 7-8 years before it was deemed to far from town and closed down.


The unmistakable profile of a one room schoolhouse.


On this same day I drove through a few different districts, each with it's own history, school and pioneer families.  Markers and miscellaneous:


Eclipse 1902-1953, now a Community Centre
Swing set at Eclipse


Nebraska District and my car..oops!

Sargent.  Original school opened in 1900
This one was built in 1946.


Sources: Our Roots - Ponoka Book; Pioneering With a Piece of Chalk







Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Juxtaposition Contemplation

 Needed a nice photo for the top of the post....keep reading!

I enjoy exploring in every season. Sometimes we get all the season in a day. The saying, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes." definitely applies here. If I had the time, I'd take a photo of my favourite places in each season but with so many places to explore, I am often not back to the same location very often, if ever.

One of the things I like best about Fall/Winter/Spring exploring is that with no leaves on the trees, things are more visible than they are in summer.  I like the juxtaposition of the following sets of photos.  Enjoy!

Leedale House - Summer
Leedale House - Winter

Hazel House - Summer
Hazel House - Winter

Hazel House - Summer

Hazel House - Winter
Schoolhouse - summer

Schoolhouse - Fall