Apr 202017
 
Munson AB House

We’re standing smack dab in the middle of Second Street West, Munson Alberta, much to the amusement of some locals, shooting a trademark BIGDoer.com then and now. We’ve come armed with an old photo, taken close to a century ago, have plopped ourselves down in the spot where it was captured then, our mission to shoot a “now” image, composed similarly. It should look like the “then” pic in every way possible. That’s how we roll.

We’ll not just show the resultant image here (scroll down) but will also talk about what’s changed over time, what hasn’t, and will touch on a little bit of history of the town itself. Prepare to learn something – grab a coffee and read on.

Munson Alberta then and now: one street in town and two photos a hundred years apart. Researched, Written and Photographed by Chris Doering and Connie Biggart.(BIGDoer/Synd)

First the “then” photo. It was found in an online photo archive by yours truly, the scan appearing to be in the public domain and without copyright (correct us if wrong). There’s no date on it, but we know it’s real old. We’ll get to that shortly. While this one was sourced in-house, many of these “then” images are sent in by readers. If you have an old photo you think should get our then and now treatment, please, drop us a line.

Scroll down for photos and to comment.

Munson dates from the early 1910s. It was born, as many towns were on the prairies, with the coming of the railway. This line, originally the Alberta Midland, part of the Canadian Northern Railway Network, later amalgamated into the Canadian National Railways System, ran south from Stettler Alberta and points north, into Drumheller, and points southwest. The track was last used about a decade ago and was pulled up only recently. Another line lost.

Munson has a population of around two hundred today. In times past, during the great prairie settlement boom way back when, it was more. Nothing but a sleepy little burg today, a few blocks square, the streets are lined mostly with older homes. Lots of peace and quiet here, a level ten on the solitude scale. We stood in the middle of the road, but worried little about being mowed down. No cars were seen.

The town was named by the railway, as was often the case out here on the plains. It’s said Munson was a person connected with a law firm the Canadian Northern Railway retained.

The street seen in the old photo was when shot, at the edge of town. No different today. Behind the houses on left is nothing but prairie. Small towns don’t grow much. In fact, many shrink.

The original photo shows a row of what were at the time some fairly new houses. For the now image, most of them are still there, but save for one, are blocked by trees and not visible. That one clearly seen in both, today operates as a Bed and Breakfast (Silver Fox Inn) and appears little changed from the old days.

We’re not sure what happened to the church seen in the far background, old photo. Calling around, no one seemed to know anything about it. You’ll notice a “newer” church now stands a bit closer in today. There sure is a lot more trees since the early days…said Captain Obvious. There’s been some change, but the street feels much as it did then.

While there was no date on the original photo, a number of clues suggest it’s from about a hundred years ago. For one, everything seen in it has this newness about it and we know how old the town is so that’s a no-brainer. While we don’t know the purpose of the photo, we think it may have been a postcard. Ones like it, showing small town street scenes, were common in the early days. We never saw the backside scan, which would confirm this or not, so can only guess.

The now photo was lined up and composed in camera with no post production funny business to help us along. This of course means we’ll never ace it…but we get close. Still, for this one, I felt I was a bit off, more than I liked. That’s just me though. The BIGDoer-mobile makes a guest appearance in the now photo. It’s sometimes photo bomb a shoot.

More small town then and nows…
Empress AB then and now.
Shaunavon Saskatchewan then and now.
Blairmore then and now – Sleepee Teepee Motel.

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: March, 2017.
Location: Munson, AB.
Article references (and thanks): University of Alberta Press, Statistics Canada, Book – Place names of Alberta, Volume III, Central Alberta.

Munson Alberta

A side street in Munson Alberta, some hundred years apart.

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26 Comments on "Munson Alberta then and now"

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Jenn
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Great job! Love the then and nows!

Penny Kushko
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Penny Kushko

Great photos!

Will Krueger
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Will Krueger

I believe the house second from left was originally the residence of H. H. McConkey and is between 103-105 years old as the McConkey’s were living in a house that looked exactly the same in 1914. H. H. McConkey had a general store in Munson called McConkey and Bowey at the time. The church to the far right that is no longer there was the Roman Catholic Church. The church in the bottom photo is the old United Church. It didn’t appear to be in use as a church the last time I was by there in 2010 and there was no sign out front.

Krista Forbes Embertson
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Krista Forbes Embertson

I love these so much. Fun to see how things change.

Jon Calon
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Jon Calon

My fore-bearers are all buried in the Munson cemetery…

Tracey Lynn Robinson
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Tracey Lynn Robinson

Cool. My grandparents got married in Munson church.

Coinoath Sarsfield
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Coinoath Sarsfield

(via Facebook)
I love the staged photos, years apart.

Dennis Holmes
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Dennis Holmes

Looks like the road itself hasn’t changed much….

Shauna Seibel Jensen
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Shauna Seibel Jensen

(via Facebook)
Ours was the last wedding in the United Church.

Anne-Marie Foesier
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Anne-Marie Foesier

Wow… cool. Not the same house at all. And, there was actually a side walk. Would be nice to have that back.

Alison Daly
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Alison Daly

The first house on the left (in the newer photo) was moved into town in the late 70’/early 80’s.

Alison Daly
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Alison Daly

(via Facebook)
The church closed it doors probably about 12 years ago or more.

Alison Daly
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Alison Daly

The catholic church (back, old pic) was renovated into the fire hall before the new town office and fire hall were built in the early 80’s.

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