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.

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 ...