While doing research on another project, we stumbled across an interesting old postcard in a collection of papers. It shows a street scene in the small Southern Alberta town of Fort MacLeod and in that photo, which dates from the mid-1950s we see a car (with tail fins!) parked in from the Fort Museum, while some people mill about. Hmm, I know that place, it still exists. Looks like we have a a good candidate for a trademark BIGDoer.com then and now post.
For our now photos we never crop the image to make things fit. We shoot free hand, composing the shot using a complex point-of-interest grid formula we’ve come to develop. Using this technique we can almost always make a shot that is very close to the original in angle and such. Keep in mind however, even then there are limitations and things like the aspect ratio and focal length used by the original photographer are often unknowns and something that can only be guessed at, and this means the pictures will never completely match up. We get close though.
The building seen in behind in both images is known as the Museum of the North-West Mounted Police and First Nation’s Interpretive Centre, or simply the Fort Museum. This reproduction structure, built in the 1950s (it was fairly new when the postcard image was captured) is a reasonable facsimile of the original fort and barracks which date from the 1870s and were located a few kilometres away.
If you wish to visit the museum it’s located on the east side of downtown Fort MacLeod, right on the highway. We’ve never been but its been on our to-do list for some time now. The facility is open all summer and most of the spring and fall and at select times the rest of the year.
In addition to the Fort Museum, the town of Fort MacLeod has a large number of historic buildings in its downtown core. It’s worth a visit if you like stuff like that.
The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) were a predecessor to today’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, famous the world over.
As you can see, little has changed in the almost sixty years since the original image was captured. The only noticeable differences include the Province of Alberta interpretive sign. It disappeared at some unknown date, but the frame that held it, as you can see, is still there. Also the tower right above the cars appears as though it’s been moved slightly since then. The roof line also differs.
When the postcard was shot the entrance to the museum was the door on the right, behind that group of people (one who was immortalized tying his shoe). Today you enter at a door further to the right off frame. In the postcard one can see what appears to be the poles of a First Nation’s Teepee (or Tipi) to the left of the flag pole and above the interpretive sign.
The postcard seems to be one of a series which shows various historic sites across the province. This author has seen others that are similar in composition, showing among other things, the Frank Slide and Fort Edmonton Historic Park. This is a fairly early true-colour card, which became popular starting in the 1940s. Prior to then most colour cards were in fact black and white images painted with a wash of water paints as though to appear they were shot in colour.
The car seen in the old image is a mid-1950s Cadillac convertible, a classy well appointed ride that today as then would be a real head turner. Note the “futuristic” tail fins which at the time were very popular with most car makers. The car in the now pictures is ours, a plain never-to-be-a-classic 2011 Chevy Cruze. Interestingly both vehicles are a similar shade of blue.
If you have an old postcard like the one seen in this report and would like us to visit the location seen in it to find out what things looks like today, and then document it all in this blog, let us know. We can accept actual cards (they will get returned) or scanned copies. Contact information can be found below.
To see some of our favourite then and now posts, go here…
Legends of the Fall then and now.
Calgary then and now – Dominion Bridge.
Calgary Transit then and now – The Bay.
Then and now overlooking Wayne Alberta.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: September, 2014.
Location: Fort MacLeod, AB.