Thursday, 23 November 2017


Another Esther Pioneer.
Ed Affleck was one of the early pioneers in the Esther Community, he came to the area in 1913 and set up his farming operation southwest of Esther. Ed, like so many other pioneers, played the violin and Marge, Leonard Westerlund and Ed played for many of the local dances. Ed met Mildred Purcell, on Dec.29 1938 they were married in Camrose. All the years they lived on the farm, they never had power in the house, only propane lights, propane fridge and propane stove. Ed was one of the true pioneers of the West. Pictured above is Mrs. Purcell, Mildred’s mother, holding her great-grandson, Delbert Pratt. The other is a photo of Ed cutting Frank Cartwrights hair.

Delbert now ranches on the Esther flat, raising a fine herd of cattle and even doing a bit of travelling with his lovely wife Sheila.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Esther, Alberta Artifacts.
Many Artifacts have been in the Esther, Alberta area over the years. First Nations people traveling through the area left behind a puzzle which has been a challenge to Archeologists for many years. One Artifact that was left behind is located North West of Esther a few miles, it is a human effigy consisting of stones placed upon the ground in the shape of a stickman, it is approximately 8 ft in length. Nearby there are also clearly defined tent rings which are also made of rocks. These vary in sizes, but are generally from two to seven meters in diameter, they were used to hold down the edges of the hides which made up the teepees.

Monday, 25 September 2017

From 1925 until 1963, the train came through Esther three days a week with freight, mail and grain cars. There never was a station or a station master in Esther. This little building served as the storage shed and a small waiting room. Sometime after 1963, groceries and freight were no longer hauled by train and this little building was purchased by Bruce Pratt and moved to his farmyard where it remains today. It is a small piece of the community history that has been preserved and is still standing straight and proud.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

If you look on Facebook you will notice that several people travel through Esther because of the elevator and often take photos of the several abandoned buildings there.
The Esther Garage was built in the early 1940's and has changed hands many times since then. Clayton Ball and Harry Hunter built the garage to keep their truck in, Clayton also sold Fargo trucks for a few years. The Office portion was even used as a schoolroom for a few years. In 1949 Sam McKnight bought the garage and started a welding and repair shop, Jim Pratt was his first mechanic. In the early 50's Henry Kroeger bought the garage and sole Massey Harris machinery and Dodge cars, Henery's brother George ran the garage and was the mechanic. In about 1955 Bruce Pratt bought the garage and his brother Roy who is a heavy duty mechanic ran it for him. The last and current owner of the garage is Bill Dalton and today it is used for storage and is very photogenic for the passing photographers searching for the next abandoned building to take a photo of and post on one of the great Facebook sites.

Friday, 8 September 2017

I often pick up the Esther History Book and browse through it, this morning I came across several wedding pictures and thought I might post a few of my friend's wedding photos.
Roxie (Miller) Pratt from Loverna and Roy Pratt from Esther dated for some time and then became engaged and decided to be life partners. They were married on July 17, 1964, and celebrated 53 years of marriage this summer. I remember the tiny little trailer they first lived in and eventually upgraded to a bigger trailer and in turn poured a basement and developed their existing home around that trailer, including a swimming pool and hot tub. Their home was always the gathering place for the ball club and many fantastic pool parties were held there. Happy Anniversary Roxie and Roy, with many more to come.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

This statue, named after Peter Fidler, a Hudson Bay fur trader and surveyor, commemorates the bicentennial of Elk Point in 1992 and the history of fur trading posts in the region. The wooden chainsaw-carved statue measures 9.8 m (32 ft) tall and is located at the north end of Elk Point on Highway 41. 

As the 19th century dawned. No other Hudson Bay employee had as much experience in the way of the people of the plains and woodlands as Peter Fidler. He lived his life as a dedicated family man. His Cree wife, Mary was his lifelong companion who traveled with him during his explorations. In 1796  he initiated the building of the first river boats in Alberta, he received a letter from George Sutherland the chief factor at Edmonton House in the fall instructing him to build two boats to send to Edmonton House in the spring. Peter Fidler was an easy going man and traveled his Hudson Bay territory with little antagonism and was respected by all he encountered.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Herefords and Hereford Breeders in East Central Alberta raised some of the best cattle in the world. John Hagens Sr. had a dream for many years of owning a ranch, his dream began to come true when he met a gentleman by the name of Alvin Hempkin in his hometown in Germany. Alvin told him of his life in a small village in Alberta called Esther with acres of wide-open spaces. John had heard enough, he left Germany and arrived in Esther in September of 1928. When he arrived in Esther he purchased one cow for $40.00  and a short time later bought a few more. During the 30's times were very difficult and each farmer could only keep 3 or 4 cows. In the early 40's the weather changed and life got better and John purchased purebred Herefords from local breeders, Beynon, Westerlund, and Haberfield. They named the ranch Wheatsheaf Ranch and in 1944 John was presented with his life membership to the Candian Hereford Association. Today this same ranch now known as Hagen Valley Ranches is operated by John Sr's sons John Jr., Erwin and their families.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

                                                        The Royal Cafe, Loverna Sk.
I remember the Cafe in Loverna, but I don't remember ever hanging out there much.
In 1914 a one story building was moved into Loverna an upstairs was built on the building and this became the Royal Cafe. There were four Chinese Gentlemen who operated this cafe in early years, three of them moved on and Harry Seto stayed and operated the Cafe. Everyone would dash to the cafe after dances for a quick lunch. The upstairs rooms were rented out for overnight guests.
Harry had a unique sense of humor and often had things to say about people in his own Chinese humor. Harry looked on Marlyn (Red) Warrington with special affection, He was often heard to say "Marlyn crazy like hell." Vic and Liz Volk bought the cafe from Harry in 1963 and kept it open until 1965.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Sibbald, Alberta 1920, as long as I can remember, Sibbald was always a hub of excitement. Sports days on the 24th of May weekend were always lots of fun and the weather was usually very unpredictable. It might be a beautiful sunny day or it could snow part way through a baseball game. In later years we traveled to Sibbald for disking bonspiels and the infamous Sibbald Carnival, this is a story for another day. If you look at the photo above and Sibbald today it shows how small towns that flourished during the early years slowly go backward when modern technology comes to play. I have so many fond memories of social activities in Sibbald and often travel back there just for a look and a few memories. The Sibbald AWP elevator was the last Pool elevator that I hauled grain to when we were still on the farm. I have been very fortunate to have inherited my mother's history book collection, 22 in total, hopefully, I can share some of these great articles and memories with my friends here on my blog and on Facebook.

Monday, 28 August 2017

In 1961, the community of Hoosier decided to build a local golf course and in 1962 their dream was realized when a Club House was built and with the help of local residents so was the golf course. Over the years the membership was as high as 100 active members to as few as 15. My parents learned to golf on this course and became very ardent members and golfers in Hoosier. I remember many family Sundays spent golfing in Hoosier. Mom and Dad ventured over to the golf course on a regular basis and soon became close friends with Don and Babe Stevens and traveled the countryside with them to many golf tournaments. I am not a golfer but do remember trying to whack that little white ball and look like I knew what I was doing, all for not of course so I stayed playing ball.

Friday, 25 August 2017

In 1982 the CNR railroad was dismantled from Coleville, Sk. to Sedalia, Ab. There were mountains of railroad ties piled in various locations. Some of them were in very good condition and selected to be shipped to Los Angeles to be used for landscaping. I was commissioned to haul these ties to a central location so they could be sorted and graded to be shipped to their appropriate destinations. It was a lot of hard work bundling and loading the ties so they would stay on the trailer, being oddly sized they didn't always want to stay in place.
The photo above is the last load of variously sized ties that I loaded and removed from the stock pile in Hoosier Sk.

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.

Another Esther Pioneer. Ed Affleck was one of the early pioneers in the Esther Community, he came to the area in 1913 and set up his ...