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.

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 ...