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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 […]

The Mill

The Mill

Part two of our visit with Atco Wood Products, Fruitvale British Columbia. The day before we were in “the woods” with their crew, watching how it’s done out there, this time it’s a look at the firm’s high tech mill. Using logs harvested, in a sustainable way, from forests in the region, we watch as […]

Alberta Pool Esther

Alberta Pool Esther

Saying a handful of people live in Esther Alberta might be a stretch. There’s not many here. Even at the peak, long ago, it was never a populous place. It’s a tiny dot on the map, always has been, on some lonely back road, middle of nowhere stuff, seen and visited by few…you get the […]

In search of Mitford Alberta: Cochrane's Railway

In search of Mitford Alberta: Cochrane’s Railway

In 2013 we studied the former town of Mitford Alberta, located just west of present day Cochrane (links to those posts below). One of the earliest communities in the area it was established 1880s. It was also one of the first abandoned too and was completely gone by the turn of the twentieth century. Connected […]

University of Calgary then and now

University of Calgary then and now

Flashback some thirty five, maybe even forty years. We’re at the University of Calgary witness to a couple of “interesting” fellows hamming it up for the camera somewhere on the sprawling campus. Jumping in the time machine, it’s 2016 and C&C are on the scene, hoping to duplicate that photo in both angle and composition […]

Junction Creek

Junction Creek

This hiking trail is located in the Sheep River area of Kananaskis, just west of Turner Valley. It takes one south up a remote densely forested valley, paralleling scenic Junction Creek the whole time. While it’s in the trees most of the way, there’s enough views of surrounding mountains to make it all worthwhile. An […]

Robin's Egg Boler

Robin’s Egg Boler

Still struggling to catch up with these Boler postings. Way behind! Here’s the latest one, gosh, from exactly a year ago, so September 2015 (double gosh) and spotted in Red Deer Alberta as a storm approached. It’s a wonderful and very bold Robin’s Egg Blue, reminiscent of the colour so revered on 1960s Ford Mustangs, […]

The Woods

The Woods

Come on, jump in the truck. There’s room for a few of you. We’ll be heading up a winding mountain road, (don’t worry, we’ll be in competent hands), to a densely forested slope in the West Kootenays of British Columbia to witness something incredibly interesting. We’re hanging with the the Atco Wood Products Field (or […]

Planned Railway Line Empress Alberta

Planned Railway Line Empress Alberta

In the first few decades of the twentieth century a huge number of railway branch lines were built across the Western Canadian plains. Look at any old time map and see. It was a messy spaghetti-bowl of track, running this way and that with reckless abandon, to near every town or village and what appears […]

Providence Grain – Marengo Saskatchewan

Providence Grain – Marengo Saskatchewan

The always on the go BIGDoer.com crew are in the tiny burg of Marengo Saskatchewan to document the Providence Grain facility located there. Join us for a tour of this working grain elevator. It’s a bit different and is not one of the those high-throughput concrete super terminals common today, even if it sort of […]

Adanac Ridge

Adanac Ridge

Wanna’ a new hike in the Crownest Pass of Alberta? Some “fresh meat”? Try Adanac Ridge, a long north/south trending hill. It’s a fine objective, yet strangely visited by few even though it’s not terribly difficult to do and is easy to get to. There is no trail to speak of but getting to the […]

Creston BC Grain Elevators

Creston BC Grain Elevators

British Columbia! Endless forests, precipitous peaks, bears, lumberjacks, bears eating lumberjacks, raging rivers, a moose, a squirrel, all things wild. No arguments here! But what’s this in Creston? Grain elevators, aka “prairie sentinels”…here in the mountains – emphasis on mountains? What the? Aren’t these associated with the vast (and very flat) plains of Alberta, Saskatchewan […]

Hell's Ridge

Hell’s Ridge

Welcome to Hell, Hell’s Ridge that is, South Kananaskis Alberta, a hike you may think twice about given that dark and sinister name. In reality however, it’s something actually quite wonderful. And fun. Heavenly…oh quit! It’s a short steep climb to the modest-height summit, where some pretty decent views await. The ridge crest extends off […]

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