Tuesday, 27 June 2017

On Sunday, June 25, 2017, we traveled through the back country and ended up at the Cardinal Divide, it is a very slow but beautiful drive up the Elk River Road to the Trunk Road and then on into Cadomin, through the Valley to Mountain Park which is the headwater of the McCleod River. We stopped at the Mountain Park Cemetary to pay respects to some of Chris's family members who resided in the town of Mountain Park. The Cheviot Coal Mine is adjacent to the Cemetary, the historical and the modern all in one valley. The elevation at Mountain Park is about 5800 feet, the Cemetary is at 6200 feet. Mountain Park was known as the highest civilized point in Canada at one time. Due to generally declining coal markets, the residents of Mountain Park moved to other towns and the town itself soon became a ghost town, some moved their homes board by board from there to a new location, several of these were moved more than once. We had the opportunity to have dinner with a lady who lived in Mountain Park, we will be going back with her in tow to absorb more of the history of this fascinating part of our Alberta History.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

In the early years of building and getting children to country schools, was sometimes an adventure.
The "School Van" pictured here was one of six that were used in the Hoosier Saskatchewan School District No. 1145. There were six different routes that were tendered on by local farmers and townspeople. They were tendered spring and fall and driven by the winning tenderer or his or her spouse, son or hired man. During the thirties, the tenderers were paid an allowance that went against their land tax. The Vans were constructed of wood with a canvas enclosure and was designed to run on wheels in the spring, and fall and could be converted to sleigh runners for winter. There was even a little wood stove inside to keep everyone warm and cozy. These Vans were eventually replaced by motorized School Buses, which made life much easier for all, drivers and students alike. Hoosier is a few Km. east of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, north of Marengo Sk. and not very far from where I grew up and lived for many years.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

In the early days, there were schools situated in very unique places, usually when small communities felt the need for a school in their area. This particular school was located a few km NE of the town of Esther, it is the Claremont School District No. 3018. The school district was formed in 1913 and plans were made to build a school, the community took out debentures from the government, a carpenter was hired and with volunteer labor, the dream became a reality. The school was situated on Neil Blue Sr's land and since he had come from a town in Ontario called Claremont, that was the name given to the school. For many years the school was also used as the United Church and ministers came from Compeer to give the Sunday Sermon. The last records of teachers and activity in the school were in 1940-41, it seems the school closed after that year. The school still stands today on the Blue farm north of Esther.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

When I was growing up and learning to curl, one of my hero's was Ron Northcott. One of his curling mates was Fred Storey from Empress, Alberta, pictured in the center, he threw lead rocks for Northcott. This team of professional curlers Won the Alberta Championship seven times, Canadian Champions three times and World Champions three times.  Fred is a member of the CCA Hall of Fame and also the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Fred started his curling career at the age of 13, by hanging out at the old curling rink in Empress, substituting whenever he could. This is a great achievement for a young lad from the tiny little town of Empress.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Lundbreck Falls, just a bit west of the town of Lundbreck along Highway 3 is typically a lazy little fall with a 30-meter drop. Last Sunday we stopped there and grabbed a few shots, it is roaring over the rocks and is incredibly loud with a spray mist. I was told that there is still parts of the high country that still has a lot of snow and the run-off has only just begun. I am always awed by this little falls and have photographed it in all seasons and many variations, including one with the train in the background. It is well worth the drive from Black Diamond past Longview and on down to Lundbreck on a Sunday afternoon. The scenery is incredible and the drive is very relaxing.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

                                                         Wenger Heights School
Wenger Heights School was situated southwest of Esther, it was built in 1914 making it the second oldest school in the Esther area.It was situated on a high point of land on the NW 29-30-3-W4 on land owned by J.D. Wenger. The school operated from 1914 until 1934 when there were only eight students attending, in 1937 the School District was incorporated into the Acadia School Division and students had by that time gone to several different schools in the area. As many of the old schools from this era, they were bought by local farmers and either used for grain storage or for shops. This particular school was moved to New Brigden and then eventually purchased by Innozenz Hertz who in turn tore it down for the lumber.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Sharing my Experiences.
During the winter of 1968 my friend and neighbor, Ron Barnett, asked me if I would like to work on a seismic crew. I discussed it with my parents and they suggested it would be a fantastic experience. After Christmas, I drove with Ron to Hanna, Alberta to begin my career with Velocity Surveys, a Seismic company from Calgary. We spent a couple weeks living in the old Seymour Hotel and working south of Youngstown, near Big Stone, after that, we moved to a camp job south of Grande Prairie on the Kakwaw River. We spent the winter there and at breakup moved all the trucks and drills back to Calgary.
The following winter I went back and had the opportunity to work on the survey crew, eventually ending up behind an instrument, working with two great guys, Bill Pajak and Brian McBride. When spring came, instead of shutting down, we all boarded a plane and ended up in the Arctic on Prince Patrick Island at a place called Satellite Bay. When I stepped off that airplane, it was -60 F and very windy. I asked myself, what on earth possessed you to do this? Well, long story short we stayed there from April 1 until July 1 and I got to experience 24 hours a day daylight and had the opportunity to work with some great people, who became lifelong friends. When I got home I helped on the farm then back to a crew doing Gravity Exploration near Caroline. My younger brother Brian joined me on this crew and that is where he began his career as a surveyor. He too has had some fantastic adventures throughout BC., Ab., NWT and now in Saskatchewan with Stantec.
All in all the many different experiences I had during my time on seismic crews prepared me for the rest of my life, preparing me for life's experiences and allowing me the ability to be able to work with confidence in myself.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A New Twist.
Blogging is something I never thought I would do, today I am trying something new.
I normally try and include some history from where I grew up and surrounding communities, today I am going to write about something different.
I joined several photography pages on Facebook and find them interesting and enjoyable. Photography is my hobby not my business, at one time I thought it would be fun to be a starving artist but now I just enjoy taking photos and posting them for others to enjoy. I have made so many new friends on these sites and I have to say it is a great place to meet many wonderful people. Sharing our photos and stories that are part of our many weekend adventures, have become trips we excitedly look forward too all week.
It is amazing how many abandoned structures there are in Alberta, we find farmsteads, churches,
schools and ghost towns in all parts of the province. In areas northeast of Edmonton, the European
influence abounds some beautiful old churches and schools. In one particular area we found a Romanian church and a school built completely of stone. Recently my friend and I went back to the area and discovered two abandoned churches still standing and in reasonably good shape. We also discovered a beautiful old stone house, built from stones out of Beaverhill Lake.
I hope to write more of these type of blogs in the future, two people who have influenced and
encouraged me to create my blog site are Dale Stewart and Chris Doer, both experienced bloggers. I
want to thank them both for their confidence and encouragement.
I have been told I am supposed to broaden my horizons and take photos other than abandoned
buildings so our next trip out for photos I am going to be doing some landscapes and experimenting with filters and lenses. Photography can be such a rewarding hobby, one you can enjoy looking back on and also sharing with family and friends. All of the different sites on a Facebook are wonderful to share on and learn new techniques from fellow photographers.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life, breath the fresh air and enjoy everyone around you.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Once again, traveling around Alberta is full of surprises. My friend and I took a run through the area NE. of Edmonton on Saturday of the long weekend. I have not been able to find much history on this old garage other than what it says on the front, it appears it was built and established as Beauvallon Motors in 1940. The entire structure is built of stone, although rare in Alberta, appears to be common in this part of the province. We have come across stone homes, school, stores and now this garage. This part of the province has so much European history, typically Ukrainian and Romanian, it is well worth the trip to experience the massive old and new churches, schools and beautiful old homes in communities rather than in towns. I have been in this area several times and it seems every trip has a new experience and surprise in store.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

I have traveled up and down Highway 43 many times with work and when I lived in Peace River. I have driven underneath this trestle many times but never thought much about it. Late last fall, in November on a trip to and from High Level, we stopped and snapped this photo of the Rochfort Trestle Bridge, it is the longest wood trestle in North America, it is 736 meters long, and 33.5 meters tall. The bridge was built in 1914, over the Paddle River, two short portions of the bridge have been replaced by steel and it is periodically used by CN. You can park on the hill on the west side and get a great view of the bridge, in 1914 it was a huge undertaking to construct a structure of this size and intricacy.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Occasionally, when we are traveling about this beautiful province, we will drive by things several times before you realize, hey this is pretty cool. The above photo is one of those things, the four cement blocks are the remains of a bridge built in 1913 by Canadian North Railway. Pembina River area coincides with the extension of two railways, Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern. Both companies decided to build railroads to the Pacific Coast via the Yellowhead Trail. The duplication of both railways proved inefficient and forced both companies into default in 1917, In 1922 the bridge built by Canadian North was dismantled and these four cement blocks remain as a historical reminder of the railway race.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

                                                       New Brigden Train Station.
In 1925 The CNR, a crown corporation made up of two bankrupt railroad companies, Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Railway, began laying track from Loverna west to Hanna, Alberta. By 1926 it had reached New Brigden and continued west to Hemaruka, It ended there and never did continue on to Hanna. The new found wealth of a railroad brought many services to New Brigden that helped the residents build their new community. Grain elevators, hardware store, grocery store, restaurant and other businesses popped up in the community. The community flourished with a school, community hall, curling rink and skating rink and in later years a joint venture between New Brigden, Esther and Sedalia built a curling rink with two sheets of artificial ice. Today, the curling rink and school and new community hall are still open and the hub of activity. The New Brigden Drama Club has for many years taken advantage of the incredibly talented people in New Brigden and surrounding communities, putting on Musical Plays that are second to none in this province. I went to high school in New Brigden, played baseball there and participated in some of the Drama Club productions and I have so many wonderful memories of this tiny little prairie town.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

                                                  Hauling the whole grain elevator.
In October of 1925, the UGG Grain Company opened a recently constructed grain elevator in New Brigden, Alberta. The first elevator manager was W.A. Holmes. In 1928 a second elevator was constructed in New Brigden by the AWP. As time went on, millions of bushels of grain were bought, sold and loaded on boxcars at these two elevators. Eventually, the railroad company decided to shut down the rail line and these elevators along with others along the Bigger Line were closed. The original UGG elevator which had been purchased by AWP was torn down in 1982. The picture above shows the Original AWP elevator traveling on the highway, in 1984, heading towards Consort, Alberta to its second home.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

                                                             Oil & Gas at New Brigden
In 1920 an oil company started to drill for oil near New Brigden, it brought a lot of activity and employment to the area. However the boom was short lived, in 1923 the well was destroyed by fire and vacated. Once again in 1941, a drilling rig was set up about 3 miles west of New Brigden. It was a tall rig (120 ft.), the diesel motors that drove the draw works ran on distillate which was hauled in by rail. A steam engine was used during the winter to keep things thawed out. It took a box car load of coal every week to keep the steam engine running, the coal was shipped from Sheerness to New Brigden via rail. Nels Holmes truck was used to haul the coal to the rig from New Brigden and the dynamite that was used for the drilling process was stored in a cutter and guarded by Ed Wilson. It was reported that the well was about 6000 ft deep and drilling would continue for a few days and then suddenly the drilling was ceased and the well was capped. To this day no one knows for sure why the well was ceased and capped. The above photo is of the 1941 drilling rig.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

                                                        Morrin Corner Buffalo.

For many years, I have, and I am sure a lot of you have done the same. Driven on the #9 Highway traveling to Calgary or points west and noticed the large herd of buffalo at Morrin Corner. I often stopped and took photos of them, one afternoon this old bull was close to the fence having a discussion with another bull on the south side of the highway.
The gentleman who owns the land and the buffalo purchased his first 25 animals in 1995 and has now grown his herd to 145 cows and bulls. The buffalo are less work and net more money in the bank than cattle do, he also has tours of the farm and buffalo for tourists and enjoys telling his stories about Peter Fidler's trip from where Red Deer is now, to where Drumheller is now with many stops in between to observe the buffalo. It is worth while to stop and check out the buffalo at Morrin Corner.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

                                                           Loverna Saskatchewan

As I have often mentioned, Loverna, Saskatchewan was my second hometown. Many friends were made over the years. Once a townsite had been arranged for on the surveyed railway route, a problem arose, a name for the new town. Mr. McFarland asked for the privilege of naming the town-to-be after his daughter, Mrs. Loverna George, who still lived in the states. SO, "LOVERNA" it became. I have so many fond memories of Loverna, living only a few miles away, we spent a lot of time there, playing ball, music lessons, curling and good old fashioned country dances. As a young lad going to dances, I remember some very colorful characters attending the dances. Today, Loverna  is a Ghost Town but is still an interesting place to visit.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


                                                       St. Julien School District #3578
In 1918 The St. Julien Community, south of Esther, Alberta held a meeting and decided to build a school for all the children in that community. A site was chosen, it was central to all the residents on the NW corner of 34-30-2W4 at the base of a hill known as Starvation Butte. The school was open in 1918 and remained open until 1955 when a new school in Esther was built and the students were taken there by school bus. One of the early teachers was Beryl (Robarts) Thurston, pictured above, she taught there in 1942 and 1943. The old school is still standing today, being used for grain storage as many of these old schools ended up doing. The St. Julien School Corner is still a landmark for many of the locals and also for those of us who used to live in the area. It has been used as a reference point for many lost travelers.

Monday, 10 April 2017

As I travel in north central Alberta I have noticed many old homes and barns with dovetail log construction and then covered with a coating that is a mud and straw mixture. I notice that often times the coating has partially fallen off but due to the dovetail construction of the actual building, they still stand straight and tall. I can only imagine the many hours of work that was involved in the precision cuts with not so precision tools, that it takes to construct these homes and barns. I have a great admiration for our pioneers in their talents when it comes to building construction. There are massive barns and homes constructed on the prairies without the aid of all the mechanical lifts we have available to us today.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

 While traveling this great province, you will be surprised at some of the histories. On one of the trips my friend Dale and I took to the far reaches of South Eastern Alberta we came across a gentleman cutting grass on his farm driveway so we stopped to chat. The above shack was one of the first buildings on the original homestead. His grandparents came from Minnesota in 1906 to Warner and then traveled by horse and wagon 80 miles southeast to the homestead. Today Norm and Barb Finstead live in that same community called Pendant d'Oreille and with their son and grandchildren, they ranch 35000 acres and raise over 400 head of cattle. The grandchildren travel 45 miles to Foremost to school and back every day. The Sweetgrass hills are very close to the ranch, it is a beautiful part of our province. That is the road less traveled.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

                                             Ryerson Polytechnical Insitute, "Jorgenson Hall."

Fred Jorgenson from New Brigden, Alberta has a very distinguished life story, After training at the Calgary Normal School, Fred taught locally at Wenger Heights School, Oyen Public School and Olds Agricultural School.  In 1956 he was appointed Principal at SAIT and was there for 10 years. He was then offered the Presidency of Ryerson Technical Institute. Fred stayed in Toronto for 3 years and then returned to SAIT. While Fred was in Toronto Ryerson built a large building and named it "Jorgenson Hall," an amazing tribute to an incredible man.

Monday, 3 April 2017


                                                        Sunday School by Post.

In the early 1900's the Anglican church developed the Sunday School Post, it was a means of reaching out to the young people of their congregations. Lessons were mailed once a month to all the families who enrolled.
The Sunday School by Post Van was a welcome sight when it arrived in Loverna yearly, traveling across the Diocese bring books to the community and holding summer classes where organized Sunday Schools were not active. I don't remember the Van but I do remember Archdeacon Hasell who was the Anglican Minister in the area, in fact, he married my Mom and Dad at my Grandparents farm south of Esther.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

                                                             Distinguished Cattleman.

Local Sibbald Rancher, Murray Huston, added to the Canadian Hereford Honor Roll for his many achievements developing the Hereford Breed in Eastern Alberta. Murray, Jean and their family raised some of the finest Hereford Cattle in Western Canada and were renowned for their many awards throughout the industry. In 1981 Murray was inducted into the East Central Alberta Hall of Fame, for his contributions to the development of East Central Alberta. I had the honor of traveling with this distinguished gentleman to many Masonic Lodge functions and no matter where we went Murray was always received honorable. Murrays family still resides on the ranch at Sibbald raising Hereford Cattle.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

                                                                        
                                                                  Esther, Alberta Namesake.

 By 1912 most of the area between Loverna and the Sounding Creek had been settled, after a devastating prairie fire destroyed everything in its wake in 1910. The Olsens and several other families arrived and settled along the creek. At that time the mail came as far as (Bideford) which is now Altario. Shortly after that, the rail came through to Loverna and a Post Office was established in the Olsen home, a half mile north of the what is now Esther. The townsite was chosen by the local settlers, Anna Esther (Olsen) Landreth was the youngest child in the community and the town of Esther was named after her. A few years later the Olsen family moved to Lloydminster area. The yard where the Olsen's lived is now the Esther Recreation Park and is used for Homecomings, Family gatherings, and ball games.

Monday, 27 March 2017

                                                          Growing up on the Prairies!!

The house I grew up in had some interesting history, In 1912 a family, The Shorts's came from Ontario to Loverna by train and then traveled by horse and wagon to this homestead on the NW1/4-31-2-W4. They built this house and lived there until 1947. My Mom and Dad were married in 1947 and they purchased this farm and moved into this old house. My family lived there until 1962 when Mom and Dad built a new home a few feet to the west of this one. The old house was sold and moved from its original location. Part of it went to George and Phyllis Pratt where it remains today. Part of it was sold to Bruce and Ann Pratt and moved on skids behind several tractors 6 miles to where it also remains today. I have many fond memories of our times living in that old house.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

                                                

                                                 Historic Kiskatinaw Bridge

The Historic Kiskatinaw Bridge is located about 30 km north of Dawson Creek BC. 
Construction of this historic bridge began in late 1942 by Dow Construction, it was one of 133 permanent bridges constructed to replace temporary crossings used by the US Army to build the pioneer road. This three-span timber truss bridge has an amazing nine-degree curve, designed to accommodate the highway's steep change in grade on the west end and the need to land at a notch in the cliff on the east end. At this time it was the first wooden curved bridge to be built in Canada. In later years the development of the oil and gas industry resulted in the need for a new bridge, to handle wider, heavier and longer loads, as a result the Alaska highway was rerouted in 1978 bypassing about 10 km of the old highway and historic bridge. The bridge is now a promoted tourist attraction due to it's history. wooden deck, scenic setting and unusual design.





Bill Dalton on the right was one of the early pioneers of the Esther District. Bill arrived with his family, William Sr. who was a Congregational Minister, his mother and sisters, Lucy, Evelyn, Ethel and Fanny.
In 1938 Bill was asked to become the Alberta Wheat Pool agent in Esther where he remained for 14 years. In 1939 Bill and Dorothy (Harley) were married. Dorothy and Bill raised their family of two boys and three girls in Esther where they worked in various capacities from store manager to postmaster and mistress. Their oldest son Bill Jr. still lives in Esther with his wife Madge and for many years they also ran the general store and post office. The other gentleman in the photo is Tom Short who lived 5 miles east of Esther, he retired and sold his farm to my Dad. These two gentlemen were pioneers of the great community that I grew up and lived in for many years. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017


                                       

                           Oil & Gas Well Site Remediation


It is important for the general public to understand what happens when a gas or oil well is drilled in remote areas.
The wells are typically drilled in the winter time so that the trucks, rigs and other support equipment can get onto the lease with minimum disturbance to the ground. Only the required amount of trees are cut down in order to make room for the lease. It is typically left for a couple years in order to let the trees that have been cut dry out and decay. Once this takes place crews will come in and remediate the lease, add the topsoil back and crunch the trees to use them for both natural fertilizer and prevent soil erosion. The lease is remediated and reseeded with native grasses, then the tree planters will come in and plant trees on the lease except for the area required to use to service the well. The above photos are a lease that I remediated in the Fox Creek, Alberta area in 2007. Picture one shows when we arrived and picture two is the finished product, seeded with native grass

Saturday, 18 March 2017

                                                            Hudson Heights School

Hudson heights School is also in the Esther area, a few miles south of St. Julien. It was opened in 1918 and was strictly for high school. I remember my Mom telling about having to ride a horse to Hudson Heights from the farm where she grew up, it was about 3 miles from school. She would go early in the morning and light the fires in the winter time so the school was warm when the rest of the students arrived. Due to better roads and school buses, the school was closed in 1954, purchased by a local farmer and was turned into grain storage for many years. The school is still standing on its original site and is in reasonable good condition.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

                                                                "John Deere Green"
For every farmer, it is always an exciting day when that first new tractor arrives. One of our neighbors, George Newton, in the picture is sporting his new John Deere D with a big old smile on his face. I remember often going past the Newton farm and the whole lineup of machinery was that beautiful John Deere Green.

Monday, 13 March 2017

                                                          Afternoon Delight.
Sometimes on a summer afternoon, a fella has just got to enjoy the spoils of a new shipment. The gentlemen above are doing just that. Some of these boys lived in the Esther Community and some of their descendants still do. Four that have been identified for me are Angus Bingeman, Joe Blaise, Nelson Bingeman and Allen Mao.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

                                                              Progress on the Prairies.

In 1924, after much deliberation, the AWP decided to build an elevator in Esther, Alberta. The railroad tracks only came as far west as Loverna, Saskatchewan and the elevator was slated to be completed and ready for business in 1925. CNR then started to extend the rail line west of Loverna. Above are a couple of the young locals who worked hard and long at building the track bed with horses, slips and shovels. the two young men in the photo are William Holmes from New Brigden and Ray Muzzy from Esther.

Friday, 10 March 2017

                                                         Beautiful old School
In one of my travels to Oyen to visit family, I had the opportunity to photograph this beautiful old school. Farming Valley School is located near a farmers yard Northeast of Oyen, Alberta. It is a very unique design, not typical to Alberta. Unfortunately, there is only one of the students who went there left and a person who supervised correspondence at this school. I have not been able to track these two down yet to get further information on the school. That will have to be a supplement to this blog one day soon.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

                                                   Dedicated Hereford Breeders.

In August of 1956, ten Hereford breeders in the area met at Murray and Jean (Beynon) Huston's home and formed what became well known around the world as the East Central Purebred Breeders Association. The first sale was sponsored by Reimen Auction and held in Cereal, Alberta. The members of the Association attended the Calgary Bull Sale which in turn led to International sales for one of the members. In 1977 the Association became strictly for Hereford cattle and became known as the East Central Hereford Association. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


                                                              "Unique Fence"
As I was driving towards Rocky Mountain House, this unique set up of fence lines caught my eye. A farmer has used antique tractors for fence going east from his yard and threshing machines going north from his yard. After some research, I found out this collection was started some 50 years ago, a few of the tractors were driven to their resting spot under their own power. There is about 1/4 mile long line of tractors amounting to almost 200 units. I am sure I am not the first one to photograph this interesting yard but I thought it was kind of cool and wanted to share it.


Monday, 6 March 2017

                                                      "I Have Two Hometowns."

When you live close to two towns, they can both become your hometown. Loverna Saskatchewan was only 8 miles from our farm and was part of our social life growing up. We would go there to Sports Days, dances, music lessons, and curling. I played fastball with the Loverna ball team for several years and I think of Loverna as my other hometown, many of my good friends still actively farm in the Loverna area. This summer a group of photographer friends and I will be in the area doing a detailed still photo and video on small towns and surrounding areas. Esther, Loverna, Hoosier and Fusilier will be on the agenda.

Saturday, 4 March 2017


                                                       The Old and the New.
For many years the small hall served as a gathering place for dances, foul suppers, Christmas concerts, and weddings. In 1956 the Esther Community decided it was time to build a new community hall. A community hall board was formed and Frank Pratt was elected President and Raymond Cartwright was elected secretary. With donations from various clubs and private investments, the project went ahead as planned. In 1958 the Grand Opening was held with a turkey supper and dance to follow. In 1959, materials for a hardwood floor was ordered and with a lot of hard work from community volunteers, the floor was laid. A ladies bathroom was also installed at the south end of the hall just off the stage, it was a wee tad chilly in the winter time but was better than going to the outdoor facilities. The first wedding dance held in the new hall was that of May and Bob Bamber in June of 1960. 1969 was the year Disking was first introduced to the community and is still active today. Disking is similar to floor curling. In 1974, it was decided that the community would build an addition to accommodate the upcoming Homecoming in 1975. A kitchen, coatroom and two bathrooms with running water was constructed. In 1983, 84 and 85 the interior of the Hall was completely renovated with new suspended ceiling and new walls and furnaces, the original building was heated with two coal stoves, one at each end. Similar to other small communities, it takes a lot of local volunteer time to keep these buildings operating and this one is still going, Good Job Esther.

Friday, 3 March 2017



                                                            Music on the Prairies.

When you live far from the big city, you make your own entertainment. Music has always been a part of my life, my Dad played several instruments and as kids, we took piano lessons and went dances in the local community halls. I remember as a young kid listening and dancing to all of the above old time orchestras that were local people. The J's, the Jorgenson family from New Brigden, The OK Orchestra, Ernie and Eva Warwick and friends from Oyen and Sibbald. The Leftovers Sylvia Ellis, Nelson Bingeman, Jim Newton, Audrey Roswell from Esther and Loverna rounded up the entertainment groups. They would play until the wee hours of the morning and then we would all sit around and have coffee and sandwiches, then go home. Those fantastic memories are all part of growing up in a small farming community.

Thursday, 2 March 2017


                                                                    "A Special Gift"

 Witching for water is not something everyone can do successfully. Marilyn Flaht has that special gift. She uses both a willow branch and rods, each has its own unique way of telling her what is happening below the ground in water streams. Marilyn has witched many wells for farmers in the area and is well known for her gift. Marilyn says that with a willow she can determine where the underground streams are, how deep they are and is able to determine the edge of the stream. With rods, she is able to determine the direction of the streams and follow them. She has a 90% success rate in finding good water. Marilyn is another one of the many talented residents of the Esther Community.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

                                              Small Community, Huge Undertaking!!
In the spring of 1990, the Rush Centre Women's Institute ladies in Esther took it upon themselves to initiate the making of a Community History Book, the above photo shows the executive of the history book. There had been one done years before and it was a very small pamphlet type of book. These ladies decided this one was going to be much more in-depth information about the history of Esther and surrounding School Districts. My mother, Olive Parks was elected Editor of the project and off they went. For those of you who knew Mom, you knew this thing was going to get done and done right. Well, it turned into a colossal event for a small community. The actual stories and photos started coming in almost immediately after the announcement and it snowballed from there. By November of 1990, the final draft was shipped to Friesen Printers in Winnipeg. As per usual, there were a few minor changes but eventually, it was ready to go to print, 1200 pages and I am proud to say we did it with only one spelling error. The books were delivered to Esther the morning of the Homecoming in June of 1991, celebrating 80 years as a community. I still pick this volume up and scan through it and a lot of my blog information comes from this book. I am very proud to say I AM FROM ESTHER, ALBERTA.

Monday, 27 February 2017

                                                              Colorful Characters

 John Heaney was born in Ireland in 1830, one of 16 children. He immigrated to the USA with his brother and uncle and during his time there he was a Pony Express Rider during the Gold Rush in California and associated with the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickock and the infamous James Brothers. He then moved to North Dakota and married a widow and Stephen and Mary were born there. In 1911 the family moved to the Esther area and farmed a few miles Northwest of Esther. His son Steve and grandson Lawrence farmed and raised cattle on the homestead for many years. John passed away in 1938 at the age of 108 years.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

                                                              Tribute to a great teacher!
Betty Rumohr, was one of my first teachers and I will always remember that wonderful smile. She was a kind person and was passionate about teaching as she was about us all learning to the best of our ability. She taught in both the Esther Country School and the Esther Town School. The Esther Town School was originally Excelda School and when it closed because of small attendance and its location, it was in the middle of a pasture close to where my Dad grew up. I will always remember Betty, she was the only teacher I ever had that consistently called me Ronald, it is my name but most called me Ron.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

                                                                    " The Orchard"

Yes, there really was an Orchard in the Esther Community. A gentleman by the name of Allan Stewart traveled from Ontario with his sister and filed a homestead on the NE 1/4-14-31-2W4. He had difficult times making a go of growing grain and surviving on a 1/4 section of very light land. He joined up with a friend and they traveled the harvest circuit in Montana and states east. When he came back to Esther he decided he needed to protect his shack from the winds so he started planting a shelterbelt. Inside the shelterbelt, he started planting fruit trees, small apples, and plums and they flourished in that type of soil. Everyone in the community would go to the "Orchard" in the fall to pick and purchase fruit from Mr. Stewart. I remember him very well as his place was only a half mile east of our farm. In 1954 Mr. Stewart fell ill and went back to Ontario, he sold the property to my Dad. To this day I believe there are still apples growing there even tho no one is there to look after them. Just imagine an "Orchard" in the middle of the prairie.