Friday, July 13, 2018

Meandering Through Mearns

One of things I like while out travelling is spotting a church spire in the distance. Like a moth to flame, I am drawn to that church!

From a distance is how we first saw St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church (Est. 1930) at Mearns, AB. Once we arrived at the church, we saw a house on either side of it and that appeared to be all there is left at Mearns. As we continued on our trip, we unintentionally found the St. Charles Cemetery just to the NE of the church. A sign at the location stated that the original St. Charles was located here from 1902-1930.

After looking up the church, it looks like it hold services once a month. Weekend masses rotate between it and 3 other parishes in the area. I have been to the 3 other places but only happened to take a photo of the church in Villeneuve. The other parishes are in Riviere Qui Barre and Calahoo.

Nice church. Darn powerlines.

At the entrance to the cemetery.

B&W and Darn Powerlines. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Alberta Railway Museum & Dinosaurs!

Hello! I am back! I haven't really been away, I just haven't posted in awhile.

The summer of exploring new places in Alberta is off to a good start! I had a friend recommend a couple places north of Edmonton to check out, places the kiddo would like. I hadn't planned on doing both until I realized how close they were to each other.

We started our day of fun (after coffee) at Jurassic Forest, which is (you guessed it) a dinosaur themed park. There are 2 different pathways through the forest, and it really feels like you are walking through a forest or jungle. It felt extra jungle-y that day with the humidity and heat and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, dinos, DNA....some future civilization will find remains of great plastic robot dinos and a mosquito preserved somehow with our blood. Sounds kinda familiar, yet totally plausible.

As you walk, you will see signs identifying different plants and animals. But what about the dinosaurs? I am glad you you pass by sensors along the pathways, animatronic dinosaurs move and roar and make other dino noises. My son enjoyed it. There was also mini golf, play area and the obligatory cafe and gift shop.

After a quick stop in Gibbons for lunch and to see their museum, which was closed, we headed to the Alberta Railway Museum.

Gibbons Museum

Retro Coke sign
A friend called the museum a hidden gem and I agree. Even if you aren't into trains, it was fun exploring the train cars and exhibits and even a ride on a speeder (or jigger as I have heard it called also). You can't help but appreciate the collection here!

The museum also has an old water tower, I have seen 3 of these hexagonal towers now and still find them fascinating. Coincidentally, this one happened to be from Gibbons, where we had just come from.

Gibbons Water Tank 

Opal Station

Locomotive 9000

Bunk Car 69695

Combine 7379
I have put links under some of the photos if you want more info. The Alberta Railway Museum website has info on each piece in their collection, I barely skimmed the surface with my few photos (was having too much fun). I didn't even take a photo of the train station, which was from St. Albert.

 I think we explored every train we could and I think one we shouldn't have been in. A ladder to a door is an invitation to a kid and a kids mom.


Thursday, June 7, 2018


Do you ever say a name and are convinced you are pronouncing it correctly? I have always pronounced Tawatinaw as Ta-Wah-Teh-Naw. Am I right? I'm not even sure. Is it fun to say? Yes.

In case you are wondering, Tawatinaw is derived from a Cree word meaning 'river which divides the hills' or 'valley river'. It's definitely in a valley, I did not see the river. The 2016 population was 5. However it is home to a ski hill, year round resort and near the historic Athabasca Landing Trail also known as the '100 Mile Portage' built in 1876 by the Hudson's Bay Compnay as a route into the Northern Territories. It became an important route for fur traders, gold rush miners and settlers.

On the way in to the valley, I spotted an old barn and house waaaaaay out in a field seemingly with no way to get to it. We found a nearby road marked 'Dead End', and headed down it in hopes of getting a better vantage point to photograph the house. I never did find a good spot but we did happen upon the First Tawatinaw Cemetery 1918-1921 and the original location of St. Charles Church built in 1912. The dead end road kept going and it ended up not being a dead end but came out beside someones barn on their property. Oops! I made a quick getaway off their land.

Way out in right field

Left field

Onto the church! I have been wanting to see this church for a long time and I was not disappointed. With the almost overnight greening of the province, the church looked stunning against the hills. The guard dog I had heard rumours of came out to visit from the nearby house. He was a good boy. Just a friendly old dog looking for a pat.

There is no marker that I found but I read somewhere that St.Charles Catholic Church moved to this location in 1935 from the spot we discovered on the dead end road. The original log church built in 1912 burned down and this one was built in 1917.

Also spotted in Tawatinaw:

As we were leaving town, there was someone at the mail boxes. Always good to chat with a local so I asked him if he knew anything about the house in the field. He wasn't sure but he did tell me where the new cemetery was and also about the old school that used to stand on the top of the hill. After it ceased use as a school the new owners raised dogs in it. It eventually became unusable and they had a big party, invited the neighbours and lit the place up. That must have been some bonfire. He also showed me where the rail line came through and where the grain elevator once stood. No signs of any of this now. He mentioned that he was 88 years old so he has seen a lot of changes there. I hope someday, I can also say I've seen many things.

A couple photos of 'Main Street' c.1930 from the Provincial Archives:

 References: Place Names of Alberta; Provincial Archives of Alberta

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Quick Jaunt Through Jarvie and Area

On our travels last weekend, we were on a pit stop when it was mentioned by a local that a nearby town had an old General Store. I'd like to think I am familiar with many places in Alberta, even if I haven't been to them I might have heard the name or know roughly where it is. Well, Jarvie was new to me, and it reportedly had a cool general store. We all know 'cool' is subjective, so best to check it out in person.

We rolled into Jarvie, saw an old church, another old idea what it used to be, a speeder, and then the Jarvie General Store. We even drove into a park where there is a Bat & Bird Conservancy.

Here are some images of Jarvie, old and new!

c.1952 Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta
Former United Church, it looks like it might be a residence now? Unsure. 

c.1952 Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta
What was it? Photo by Kim Nolan

Speeder! Photo by Kim Nolan
At the store, we asked about the area and were told about an old school not too far away...excellent. Directions were, turn right, follow until you get to a 'Y' in the road, stay left, then there will be a 'T' in the road...we managed to find it after a few kilometers of horribly rutted, not great for cars, kinda road.

Behind the trees and bees and mosquitoes is what is left of Cedar Creek school. My 'source' says this was a log school built in the mid 20's and opened in 1928-29. It doesn't appear to be log, looks like milled lumber to me but what do I know. I wasn't about to go and inspect it any closer, that's bee territory now.

From the road. Photo by Kim Nolan

Surrounded by bees and mosquitoes. 

Also in the vicinity was an odd A-Frame house, the kind you expect to see on a lake or in a mountain resort. There is a summer village on a lake a few kilometers away.


Know anything about Jarvie? Let me know!

References: Pioneering With a Piece of Chalk; Provincial Archives or Alberta
Photos taken on May 26th, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I see a lot of barns. A LOT. I like the ones that are all alone, I am sure they used to be part of a homestead. I try to picture these busy homesteads and can get carried away with all the 'I wonder whys'. I wonder when I wander.

Here are some barns we saw on 2 separate trips. All NW, W and SW of Edmonton. No stories or anything just some cool barns.

March 24th, 2018:

 April 21, 2018 Barns:

The following is a favourite barn (also pictured above), it is easy to spot beside a major highway. I have stopped at it often. Here it is on April 21st and also a shot from last summer. I am standing in almost the same spot it appears.  If anyone else sees barn faces, this one looks happy despite it's pronounced lean.

Do you have a favourite barn? I have one, but it is not pictured here.