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Brush Hill Reformed

Brush Hill Reformed

Seen here, a lonely county church, Brush Hill Reformed, standing vigil on a remote Alberta crossroads. It’s a century old and not unexpectedly, is showing its age. No one comes here anymore, there are no services. It’s been a while since that happened. The place is boarded up, unused, it’s weathered and empty. Look in […]

Ymir, Friday Nights

Ymir, Friday Nights

Ymir British Columbia, a sleepy little burg not all that different I guess from most small towns across the country. There’s not much going on. All the tired old cliches apply here…they roll up the sidewalks come dark (wait, they have sidewalks?), you could shoot a cannon down main street and not hit a soul…we […]

Iron Springs - Elbow

Iron Springs – Elbow

This is about the easiest hike ever. Following a series of multi-use trails in the West Bragg Creek area of Kananaskis, it makes a nice loop through an area of low rolling hills. It’s a very nice stroll through the woods (like that’s ever bad), with little in the way of challenges or demands. Talk […]

The Howe Place

The Howe Place

Stand in front of this old farm house and spin around slowly. Look around, look all around and know what it’s like to be alone. Totally alone. There are scant signs of human habitation for miles and miles around (repeat ad-nauseam), the vast nothingness stretching all the way to the horizon in every direction. Here […]

Dwyer Farm

Dwyer Farm

This old farm house is probably one of the most photographed abandoned buildings in the southwest corner of the province. We’ve seen countless pictures of it from any number of photographers and we’ve shot our share too. No doubt that it’s easy to find accounts for some of its popularity. But the clincher, the real […]

Cranbrook Boler

Cranbrook Boler

We travel all over. A lot. We cover Alberta, sneak into Saskatchewan, and dip into British Columbia. If we had our way, we’d even go even further afield. On these numerous road trips we keep busy playing the Boler spotting game. The goal is to “spot” one of these little egg shaped trailers out in […]

Trainspotting BIGDoer.com style

Trainspotting BIGDoer.com style

We call it Trainspotting. There are other names for the pastime, but we like that one best (loath the term “railfanning”). In its simplest form…one grabs a camera, finds a place overlooking some train tracks, snaps away and there you have it! Of course there are those who take it “higher”, foamers as they’re oftentimes […]

Herronton

Herronton

Herronton…this tiny little place, a blip on the map. A collection of homes, a small clustering, found along some dusty Alberta backroad. While not the middle of nowhere, in feel, it’s not far removed from that proverbial place. The population…it can be counted on one hand…maybe two (we saw no one in the hour we […]

Dome Home and the Boneyard

Dome Home and the Boneyard

If we had but a single word, one word only to describe today’s subject, it’d be “funky”. We present to you the “dome home”, south of Calgary and perhaps the strangest dwelling we’ve ever documented. No shortage of personality here! A guarantee – every single person driving past it on nearby roads gives it a […]

Social Plains

Social Plains

This location is remote. Blinkin’ remote. Middle of nowhere, there’s nothing around for miles, the nearest living person is in another time zone remote. We visited the area and the population doubled. You get it…right? It’s isolated! At some out-of-the-way crossroads and today acting as a community hall for those few that call the area […]

Inglewood Boler

Inglewood Boler

Seen here, one tiny Boler trailer found in some random back alley in Calgary. As is the case with almost every one of these finds, we stumbled across it completely by accident. Hey, is that a Boler over there? Yup! How the hell did you spot that? It’s Boler-radar of course…screeeeeeeeech, cop U-turn (all other […]

Waskatenau Trestle

Waskatenau Trestle

There’s an impressive wood-framed trestle along the abandoned rail line at Waskatenau Alberta. Built of massive beams it’s been here for close to a century and spans a little water course just outside town. The rail’s still in place across it, but it’s been many years since they’ve been polished by the passing of a […]

Queenstown Community Hall

Queenstown Community Hall

The community hall was heart of any small town, village or region, its social centre. Anywhere there was a population you’d find one of these structures. Typically long and rectangular, usually plain and unassuming, they were located somewhere close to “downtown”, or at some important crossroads intersection in more rural regions. Inside there would be […]

Muley Ridge

Muley Ridge

Muley Ridge is one of the “Entrance Ridges”, so called given they’re right at the Kananaskis border. Located in the Sheep River area west of Turner Valley, there’s a nice little trail that takes in this long low lightly-forested north trending hill. The views from the summit and along the crest are certainly nice, but […]

Prairie Sentinels - Bentley Alberta

Prairie Sentinels – Bentley Alberta

As old-school wood grain elevators go, this one, found in the town of Bentley Alberta is a relative youngster. Still, it follows a very traditional design and in construction, layout, function, so pretty much everything, albeit in a somewhat more massive form, it’s not all that dissimilar from ones much, much older than it. Dare […]

Liberty School

Liberty School

The one room school. At one time, long ago, there were thousands of these little learning institutions scattered across rural Alberta. There was so many of them in fact, I doubt an accurate count is even possible. Often located along some remote middle-of-nowhere backroad, every so-many clicks or so, depending on the local population density, […]

Mustang Hills

Mustang Hills

The Mustang Hills are named after feral horses that live in the area. Three bumps of very modest stature, they can be summited with little work. Two of the three tops are open and provide mighty good views of big peaks to the west and rolling ridges to the north and south. The route is […]

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

Not much is left of this cabin. Located deep in the woods of the Crownest Pass Alberta, along an old pack trail, and towered over by precipitous peaks, it’s connected to a small coal mine operation of which little information is known. We did dig up (get it) a few snippets however, but data was […]

Crowsnest Collection – Reprise

Crowsnest Collection – Reprise

The old vehicles and odd bits of metal we’ll exploring this day are part of the Crowsnest Collection but separate from the main storage yard a few clicks to the east. No less interesting however, just smaller in scale, there’s all kinds of stuff here to make a photographer giddy. We’ll see old pickups, quarry […]

Three Bridges

Three Bridges

There are three very interesting bridges spanning the mighty Columbia River all a stone’s throw from downtown Trail British Columbia. One is over a hundred years old and not long for this world, it’s going soon, further upstream and under construction is a structure that will replace the former. A bit more upstream yet again […]

Gothic Arch

Gothic Arch

A barn is a barn is a barn. In most minds one is the same as the next. It’s a rectangular-ish shaped building, usually, used for agricultural purposes sitting in a farm yard, more likely than not painted red and with a distinctive “barn roof”. It’s the latter, a multi-pitched style officially called a Gambrel […]

Salmo River Bridge

Salmo River Bridge

There’s a series of old wood truss bridges scattered across the back roads and secondary highways of British Columbia. Distinctive in design and framed with massive timber beams, all tied together with metal bolts and rods, they look a bit outdated in today’s modern world, seemingly more fitting for a time when horsepower came from […]

St Paul's Anglican

St Paul’s Anglican

Located next to bustling MacLeod Trail, tiny St Paul’s Anglican Church ranks as Calgary’s oldest. In fact, when built, it wasn’t even within the borders of the city (well then, a town) and was well south, the community eventually growing around it over time. Ir dates back some hundred and thirty years, when the whole […]

Skiff Alberta ex-Parrish & Heimbecker

Skiff Alberta ex-Parrish & Heimbecker

Almost every last town, village or hamlet across the vast Canadian Prairies was at one time home to a building much like the one we’ll be looking at today. Towering over everything, the flat expanse of the land, the community itself, they were always located in a prominent spot usually opposite or just down from […]

Oliver House

Oliver House

Victoria Park, just southeast of and across the tracks from downtown Calgary was for much of its history a working class neighbourhood. One of the city’s earlier communities, almost all the many homes that once stood within its borders are long gone, replaced by endless parking lots in support of nearby Stampede Park, and tall […]

Dive Motel

Dive Motel

Team BIGDoer has this fondness for dive motels. You might call it strange. As accommodations go, they’re low cost, which is a plus for us professional historians (yes, it’s a career) who dream of minimum wage as some sort of glorious income nirvana. We’re budget minded, we have to be, this job dictates it. But […]

Gravitas

Gravitas

Gravitas: a work of sculpture by Keith Harder. Located in a farmer’s field in Southern Alberta, it’s made of bits and pieces of vintage World War Two Anson aircraft. From the ground it looks like a scrap pile with no order or layout. Just a jumble of old planes forgotten and left to rot away, […]

The Railway

The Railway

One of the shorter short-lines in the country, this little stretch of track still serves a very crucial purpose. In that sense it’s no less important than the big transcontinental players. A busy firm, the line’s only customer, uses it to send much of their output to market. Once every couple or few days, a […]

Highway Boler

Highway Boler

We’ve stumbled across our share of Bolers. Hundreds and hundreds of them in fact, perhaps even more – we’re not keep a running total. While we do catch them out on the road now and then, it’s overall pretty rare. The great majority we find are stationary and seen in places like parking lots, back […]

Prairie Sentinels – Flaxcombe Saskatchewan

Prairie Sentinels – Flaxcombe Saskatchewan

Today we visit the lone grain elevator in Flaxcombe Saskatchewan. In the past there were a number of such structures in the community, but this is the last one. It’s a rare beast, here, and especially so when taken in the scope of the entire province – it’s one of some four hundred-ish like it […]

CPR Demonstration Farm

CPR Demonstration Farm

The home, the barn, everything seen in this yard once served a rather unique and special purpose. Operating as a fully functioning “demonstration farm”, near Vulcan Alberta, and tied to the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was a show piece of sorts a century ago, promoting the region’s agricultural potential. Come, see how to farm. Then […]

Hillcrest-Mohawk #5

Hillcrest-Mohawk #5

Time to take in another trademark BIGDoer.com history hike! This outing takes place in the Crowsnest Pass of Alberta, and allows hikers to summit a modest height bump, which we’ll call Hillcrest Mohawk #5 Hill, that long ago was home to an underground coal mining operation. Using old mine roads the going is both easy […]

Autocar Coal Hauler

Autocar Coal Hauler

Our subject today, a monster truck, in retirement but looking fine and in fully running condition, that once hauled coal in the Crowsnest Pass of Alberta. A shiny bright blue, an almost playful colour belying its brutish, all business/no-nonsense demeanour, it’s taken out once in a while for a shakedown run. And for this one […]

Rummel Lake

Rummel Lake

Another spectacular hike in the Smith Dorrien/Spray Lakes area of Kananaskis. This outing is a fairly easy going one on a well defined rail, with gentle grades and modest elevation gain. The goal is Rummel Lake, with wonderful Turquoise waters in a basin below a towering peak. But wait, there’s more. With a little extra […]

Train Day at Aspen Crossing

Train Day at Aspen Crossing

It’s Train Day at Aspen Crossing! Come join in on the adventure and ride the rails in an eclectic mix of of old-school passenger cars sourced from all over North America. The consist, pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive, travels across the rolling prairies not terribly far from of Calgary, at a relaxed pace. Take […]

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