Friday, September 22, 2023

Just Another Crappy Photo

Hold on to your (toilet) seats friends! You're in for a treat today. Rarely has a trio this magnificent ever been seen in the wild. Enjoy this rare sighting and I hope that wherever the road may take you, that your journey is flush with adventure. 

Don't worry, this blog will not become the butt of any jokes. Back to regular content next post!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Courtenay Train Station

I like finding unexpected things. While exploring Courtenay, British Columbia, I found myself in a part of the city I had apparently never seen before. I have memories of places and stores just a few blocks away though. 

In 1912, work began and land was being cleared in order to make room for a roundhouse, machine shops, and a station, as part of a stop on the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway. 

Courtesy of the Courtenay & District Museum 

Courtesy of the Courtenay & District Museum 

Courtesy of the Courtenay & District Museum

The Courtenay Train Station was completed in 1914 and the first passenger train arrived on August 6, 1914. The line was to continue north to Campbell River. However, World War I put a stop to all future plans. As the war ended, highways and trucking services had improved and this became the end of the line. 

Though this was the end of the line, it was still an important part of life in Courtenay. Passengers, mail, farm equipment, trucks, and sometimes livestock arrived by passenger and freight trains. Trains here would use the wye (Y), instead of the more common roundhouse, just past the station to turn around and head back south towards Victoria. 

2009 Prior to closure. Photo from Wikipedia

The station was given heritage status by the City of Courtenay on 2002 and when it closed permanently in 2011 it was the Northern Terminus for the Dayliner service by Via Rail. 

It appears that in 2014 a deal was signed (but not ratified) to restore passenger rail service which included money earmarked for improving track safety, replacing deteriorating wooden ties, steel repairs, and bridge upgrades. There was another news article from 2022 involving one of the same groups from 2014, still seeking government support and funding to restore passenger and freight serivce.

As of August 2023 the station is still boarded up and the tracks are overgrown. 



Friday, August 18, 2023

Malaspina Galleries

We spent one of our vacation days on Gabriola Island, this is one of the Gulf Islands located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. It is a short 25 minute ferry ride from Nanaimo. 

Gabriola Island is know for it's scenery and it's arts & culture. As one lady said to us in passing, "everyone here thinks they're an artist." We did see some amazing art and it does have a high concentration of artists. 

One of our first stops was the Malaspina Galleries, however, this is not the type of gallery you may be thinking of. It is a natural formation that has been carved into the sandstone of the cliff by the waves. An awe inspiring testament to the power of nature.

Stayed tuned for our next stop!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Prettiest Barn Ever

I seem to be really hot and cold with this blog, so thank you for sticking around! The next few blog posts will not be from my usual stomping grounds of Alberta, but instead all the way west to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The ocean is always a welcome sight for this landlocked, prairie girl and it is where I have some great childhood memories. This trip I brought my son for his 2nd visit to the Island, but first to the areas we visited this time. I always call it 'the Island' as if it is the only one...

On our last night there, we stayed at a charming tiny house and just down the lane was the most magical looking barn. By this point I had already passed it twice without seeing it and perhaps I noticed it on the 3rd pass because the light was just right. Or maybe it was magic, it sure felt like I had stumbled into a story book or a secret place, but maybe that it just me being excessively imaginative. 

Speaking of tiny houses, here is the one we rented. In the future I could live in one like this near the ocean and be completely content. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Wild Weather

2 nights ago, my area received 2 emergency alerts for tornado warnings. A strong storm cell was moving in and myself and a bunch of other like minded smart people did the opposite of what the alert said and headed outside towards the storm for some photos. Normally, these tornado warnings don't amount to anything and this time the storm did pass by with just some strong winds and a spectacular lightning show that lasted for hours. 

The very next day, which was also Canada Day, a large tornado did touch down south of us and did do some damage. I was going to say about 45 minutes south of me, but it has come to my attention recently that Canadians measure distance in time....which doesn't really make sense to most. By the map it was roughly 80km south. 

Here are a couple images of the storm cell:

Stay safe out there everyone! 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Summer Storm

One of the benefits of living in a lake town is the summer storms rolling in across the lake that make for some great subject matter. I took these pics just before the downpour. 

That's all folks. Short and sweet. Just like me. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Lilac Szn

Lilac season is almost over here. I love the splash of colours that you can find almost anywhere you go during this time of year. What I don't love is their smell. Next up...canola season. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

What the duck?

2 animal posts in a row is unheard of on this blog, but I liked this duck couple.

I spotted them behind my sisters house, just beyond her patio. This small green space has a resident rabbit and a cheeky squirrel, but ducks are unusual. I assumed, that Mallards tend to stay near water but this was nowhere near any water and is actually in a dense residential neighbourhood next to a major roadway. I hope they made it to their destination, wherever that may be. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Fox in the Rocks

Now that the weather is nicer, I have got back to evening walks around town. Tonight on my walk I spotted a fox watching me as I walked by a little hill in the field behind my house. I didn't want to get too close or be 'that person' that gets too close to the wildlife, so I kept going but as I went around the side of the hill there were baby foxes playing amongst a big pile of large rocks on the back side of the hill, at least 6 or 7 of them. They saw me and darted back into their den but would peek out and look. 

I have know that there were foxes back here for years and would see one occasionally but always just fleetingly. One night a few summers ago, I was awoken by the sounds of 2 of them barking/shrieking at each other in front of my house in the middle of the night. The sound is hard to describe but it did answer the age old question, 'what does the fox say?"

I snapped a quick zoomed in photo, told the fox family to have a good night and be safe and I headed home. 

Did you spot the 2nd fox?

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Signs & Rooflines

Long before Forest Lawn was a neighbourhood in Calgary, it began as settlement of homesteaders in 1910. In 1935 the Village of Forest Lawn was formed by amalgamating 2 villages (Albert Park and Forest Lawn). Forest Lawn became a town in 1953 and a few years later, in 1961, it was annexed by the City of Calgary. 

If you're from Calgary, the name Forest Lawn probably brings up an opinion, stereotype, or pre-conceived notion of the area. While it may have an 'it's complicated' relationship status with the rest of the city, there is no doubt that it is also a unique and culturally diverse part of the city. The main street through the area, 17th Avenue SE, is now known as International Avenue. 

I lived and worked in the area for many years and saw lots of good things, met great people, and made great memories. I worked at a bank and also a flower shop on 17th Avenue SE and also owned 2 homes in the area, one of which is where I was living when my son was born. I also saw some not so good things, including my first ever dead body...but that is another story. 

If you didn't already know, I am a fan of old signs, especially old and vintage neon signs. On a recent drive around my old neighbourhoods, I stopped for a picture of 2 of my favourite signs. This building below, built in 1965 (thanks to Chris at BigDoer for that info), with the wonderful roofline, is in the heart of International Avenue.

The 4 Seas sign lives on, even after the restaurant is long gone.

A block west from the 4 Seas is Paradise Lanes. Still open for business.

I barely scratched the surface of International Avenue and may have to dive a bit deeper for a future post. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Jake's Butte - Dunbarney School

I always stop at this place, it's right along a paved highway and it's easy to photograph. I have stopped here several times over the years and will continue to until it falls down or I do. 

A hill, a school, and a ranch (still in operation) in the area all share the name of Jake's Butte. Named after Jake Lewis. According to the book, "As We Remember Big Valley", round-up cook Jake Lewis set up camp at the bottom of a hill but the riders couldn't find the camp. Jake put a lantern on top the hill so the riders could spot him, the hill was then named Jake's Butte and the school was also so named. The original school was used from 1913-1943, when Dunbarney School was then moved on site and used until 1950. It closed permanently when Ozark School was moved just over a mile away and Jake's Butte became redundant. It was then sold to the Jake's Butte Community Society. It appears that it was also a home at some point.

*I have an update, I was doing some more reading and found an undated image of Dunbarney School, which was moved to Jake's Butte in 1943. I am reasonably sure that they are the same building. The roofline, 2 small windows on the north side, and the chimney match, it appears the entry way was removed but the roof piece is still there. 

References: Pioneering with a Piece of Chalk; As We Remember Big Valley

Monday, April 24, 2023

Mural Monday

I am a fan of murals and public art. Or should I say most public art....I'm looking at you 'Travelling Light', aka the Big Blue Ring in Calgary. Art is definitely subjective and sometimes divisive but always something to appreciate. 

Anyway, in the City of Red Deer, there are several sides and backs of buildings in and near the downtown core that have been transformed! I think it is such a great addition to the area and makes lurking in alleys extra fun and not at all suspicious. 

Fitting mural for the Food Bank building.

Stay tuned for Part 2! More murals!!! Want more now? Check out these murals from all over the world!  

Friday, April 21, 2023

Arthurvale Adventure

Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manor towards a vague destination.

Sometimes I coddiwomple my way through life, sometimes I have a set destination but get there in a random way. There are no wrong ways to explore, but there are wrong turns. 

On this particular trip I was actually headed somewhere specific and never ended up getting there. I made some 'right' turns and ended up finding an old church and some other signs (literally) that indicated that a community once thrived here. I had found St. Hilda's Anglican Church in the district of Arthurvale.

Image from 'A History of the Huxley Area'

Many of the first permanent settlers to this area were English men and women who belonged to the Anglican Church. It was a long trip to the closest Anglican Church and the local community asked for their own services. The first service was held on July 29, 1905 in the home of a local man, with 38 people attending. Services continued to be held once a month in various homes until a church could be built. Lumber was purchased in June of 1907 and work progressed through the summer and even though the church was not complete, the first service was held October 27, 1907. Many of the churches furnishings were sent from England by friends and relatives. 

I found out that occasional services were held there right up until COVID happened and that there might be a Spring or early Summer service in the works. This church used to be unlocked for all to enjoy and sign the guest book, until recently when items were stolen from the church, forcing the caretakers to lock the doors. Makes you wonder what kind of person would steal also, it seems particularly evil to steal from a church. 

Just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road is a sign for the short lived Arthurvale Post Office. By the end of 1905 the community met and discussed having the Government establish a Post Office there and the Stephenson House was chosen as the location. The name Arthurvale was chosen after Arthur Stephenson, the only child in the district at the time. 

Post Office Sign and St. Hilda's in the Background.

Another short distance away is the location of Loyalty School, the school is long gone but the entrance gate to the property is still there, just beyond the gate you can see a stone pillar that may at one time been part of a grander entrance or sign. The school opened in 1916 with 42 pupils. The school was already too small and another room was eventually added in 1925. By 1938, High School classes were being offered and the original Arthurville School was bought and moved (about 10km) on site and a dormitory built. The school closed in 1956 and the children were bussed to the nearby town of Huxley. 

What lies beyond..

The pioneers of the area now rest in Arthurvale Cemetery beside St. Hilda's but there are still those who care for the church and keep the history alive.

Sources: Pioneering with a Piece of Chalk and A History of the Huxley Area.