Tuesday, 31 January 2017

                                                               The Beef Ring.
In the mid-1930's a Beef Ring was organized in the Esther area.This was done so the families in the area would have fresh meat once a week, the membership was $5.00. Walt Cartwright who was a butcher in England assisted by his brother Frank did the butchering, in later years Jeff and Beth Barnett did the butchering, cutting and wrapping. Each member donated one beef for butchering, they would receive two pieces of meat, a choice piece and some stewing meat, cut and wrapped each week and by the end of the year, they would have received the equivalent of the beef they had donated. The Beef Ring eventually extended as far as New Brigden and Sedalia and the meat was delivered to Esther on Friday's. In 1953 a Locker Plant was opened in the Loverna and at that time the Beef Ring was disbanded.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

When we travel around Alberta taking photos of old buildings, we see structures that resemble schools. Typically they would have three or four windows together where the children would sit in class. I have discovered recently that on some of our small towns there were hospitals and they were built similar to schools. The one in this photo sat in Altario, Alberta, I lived close to this town and until recently did not know there was a hospital there in the early days. It was a Red Cross hospital, opened in 1920 and was instigated by a lady name Mary Conquest and staffed by a Dr. Robinson and two nurses, it had 4 beds. Dr. Robinson later opened a store in Altario also.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

In 1966 and 67 I lived and worked in Medicine Hat, my new found friends and I were always looking for things to do. It seemed one of our favorite places to hang out and give the car-hops a bad time was at the good old Dog & Suds. The burgers and hotdogs were great and the sodas of many varieties were always cold and tasty.
Dog & Suds began in 1953 in Illinois, then in the 1970’s they had expanded into Canada. Their slogan was “World’s Creamiest Root Beer” served in frosted mugs.

The one in Medicine Hat was the place to go in the evenings, there would be rag top cars and music playing and everyone hanging out and having a great time. It is unfortunate that we don’t have cool places like this today where everyone can go and just have fun while they have a snack and a pop.

Friday, 27 January 2017

My Dad bought this old snow plane and he and Frank Pratt hunted coyotes in this contraption. I remember as a kid riding in it, it was incredibly noisy but it went like the wind. Dad used it in the winter time to get from the farm to town as the roads back then were not good in the winter and there were no Special Area plows then, just local snow plow clubs. I had to remind him in later years when I bought my first snow machine that his snow plane was kind of like a snow machine As our Dads hunted coyotes together so did Murray and I hunt coyotes together when we got our first snow machines.
I am amazed at the ingenuity of my Dad when it came to McGivering things together and making them work.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

In 1914 the Municipality of Canmer was formed and took in the surrounding area of Esther, Alberta. In 1932 the Municipality was awarded a contract to build 9 miles of road near Oyen, Alberta which is now the #9 Highway. The work was all done by horsepower and shovel. I remember my Grandfather telling stories about building the highway with machinery like the grader above and a team of horses and a slip. It took years not weeks or months to build the highway we take for granted today. In 1937 the municipal office was closed and the Special Areas took over.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

This morning as I was having breakfast the train was passing through close to where I live, I was reminded of years gone by when Friday was Train Day in Esther. All of the locals who had cream cans to ship to the creamery in Saskatoon would be there to drop the cans off on the platform of the old railroad station, I remember Mom getting a check from the creamery for 5 bucks for a can of cream. At one time the mail and groceries would also be on the train. Bill Foot would have his old one-ton truck backed up to the box car and everyone would help unload the groceries and mail and haul them over to the store. Good Friday was a special day as the CNR would add a passenger car to the train and all the school kids got a ride from Esther to the end of the line and back again. The railroad served the Esther community with various essential services for many years. Please excuse the quality of the photo as it was the only one I could find.

Monday, 23 January 2017

In 1911 the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway surveyed the route of their branch line from Bigger, Sk. to Hemaruka, Ab. In 1912 the grade for the railroad was constructed to Loverna and the following summer the steel arrived. Along with the railroad arriving in the area the town of Loverna sprang up with restaurants, a Chinese laundry, a poolroom and a lumber yard. It was a grand celebration the day the steel was completed to Loverna, people were invited to drive some of the Last Spikes as Loverna was the last station in Saskatchewan. That night homesteaders from near and far gathered in the pool hall and danced and celebrated. The line was completed on to Hemaruka, Alberta in 1924.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

I have met a lot of friends in my years of working in the Patch but this one takes the cake. I am doing compliance inspections in the Hythe, Alberta area and these two buddies came along looking for a scratch and a pet. My friend who was working with me snapped this shot, they were in no hurry to leave once they got a few scratches. These guys hung around with us all day as we were doing inspections on their turf all day.

Monday, 16 January 2017


In 2001 the Esther Community hosted a homecoming with over 400 people present. Above are some photos of one of the most popular teachers who taught in the Esther School. Doreen Trevor, as you can see was a pretty popular lady with all of her students. Today Doreen lives in the Acadia Lodge in Oyen and is still regarded as Mrs. Trevor by all of us.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

I have had many opportunities to go out on weekends and photograph abandoned farmsteads and barns. While I was going through my files of photos I came across this photo of the house I grew up in for the 12 years of my life. My Mom and Dad bought the farm this house sat on in 1946/47 and I was born in January 1949, I was told when I came home from the hospital I rested in a basket beside an old potbellied wood stove. My Dad built an addition on the south side a few years later so we had a bit more room for the family, my two sisters and a brother. In 1963 my folks built a new Nelson built home on the west side of this house and we moved in there in early 1964.  Parts of this old house are still being lived in on a couple farms in the community of Esther, Alberta. These old houses have an amazing history that we need to try and preserve by taking photos and asking about family history if we can, so if you see an old farmstead, snap a few photos and ask the landowner if they can give you a bit of the history.

Friday, 13 January 2017

We often hear of small towns in the north being nestled in a river valley. This is one of those beautiful little places, Peace River is nestled along the Peace River on both sides of the river. I had the opportunity to live and work there for a couple years and it was, to say the least, a very unique experience. In the summer it is one of the most beautiful places on earth with long days, sunshine and amazing foilage and grain crops throughout the whole region. However, the winter is an entirely different story. In the dead of winter, it is dark for 20 hours a day and gets down to -35 and sits there day and night for weeks on end. I have to say I enjoyed my stay in Peace River and love to go back when I can but to live there again would take a great deal of thought.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

You can drive down almost any secondary highway in Alberta and eventually you will find a Ghost Town. Wostok, Alberta is one of those places. On New Year's day, a friend and I were traveling the countryside of northern Alberta and he suggested we check out Wostok, I had never been there before so off we went. It is a unique little hamlet which has been deemed a ghost town, it has several abandoned houses and businesses like the one posted here. Once again, being a weekend warrior photographer has presented the opportunity for me to find a new and interesting place to add to my list of adventures.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

I spent some time on the weekend traveling around the countryside of northern Alberta with a friend taking photos. As we are traveling from place to place I notice the monster tractors and combines that are being used today. It prompted me to find the photo above of my Grandfather, Tom Hewines south of Esther, Alberta with his first tractor. As I was very young at the time I do not remember the exact year he purchased the tractor. I remember it being a Cockshutt 80 and it had a fibreboard cab, he always commented, the cab was a great place for the mosquitoes to hide out in. Note the drum of fuel with a hand pump in it, that would have been purple gas and he would fill up the tank twice a day when he was working the tractor hard. I have operated both the tractors of old like this one and also the new monsters and yes you get over a lot of ground today but that old tractor was a pretty peaceful place to spend the day.