To say we have a “couple” articles in the works would be a gross understatement. We’ve been busy exploring and photographing all over the west, at some crazy accelerated pace, Chris & Connie seemingly possessed or something and accumulating a huge number of photos and information for new posts. We’re full of it…energy and passion for the subject that is…and not what you were thinking you darn sickos…and so when the chance to document something comes up, we take it. Even if it means the piece gets published well down the road.
So for now, enjoy these short previews and teasers, a showcase of just some of the more interesting things Team BIGDoer has documented in the last while (yes, there’s even more). Hopefully these will help pique your curiosity. As we publish each we’ll update this post so it’ll include a link to that full article. Presenting, in no particular order, coming attractions…
Hanging with Jason Sailer, we’re roaming highways and backroads in search of abandoned things. Seen here, an old farm, a particularly intact one too. Most we find it seems are pillaged and vandalized, sadly, so this is a nice change. With permission here. These post has been waiting since last fall to be published. Better get on it soon! Of course, I’m wearing my trademark yellow jacket. And my near always present tuque.
The post, online and ready for viewing, September 22, 2017…Eastern Alberta Abandonment.
Coming soon, a fly on the wall look at large scale farming and the machines that make it happen. There’s been some shall we say “legal issues”, awkward and complicated which we won’t get into, with those who commissioned the piece and until the ugly has passed us, we can’t do much other than show some random pics. I’m sure it’ll be all done soon! Shot this in 2016!
Our new back road cruiser. Rush hour on Deerfoot sounds almost fun now. I wish. An Oshkosh “Logistics Vehicle System”, sometimes called a “Dragon Wagon”, ex-US military and still in combat colours, repurposed as a fire fighter for the farm. That’s one big tank.
Hauling into the crushing plant in a nicely customized grain truck. Perhaps mundane for the fellow who’s done it million times, but bloody interesting to those on the outside like us. This was part of the farm series mentioned earlier, so this pic is all that’s seen the light of day so far. Talk about a long time in post! This has been the first and only legal battle BIGDoer.com has ever experienced. Perhaps battle is a bit much – more like a bad boil on your butt that won’t go away (nice mental image there).
Dead bird, dead museum. This is Shandro, officially the Historical Village & Pioneer Museum at Shandro – Kalyna Country (on private property by the way) in Nothern Alberta, showcasing Ukranian Culture and not seeing many visitors since the 1990s. This one was shot some time ago but it due to be published soon. For any number of reasons some posts get delayed for a time, or bumped. Just the way it goes I guess.
There’s lots of interesting buildings here at Shandro which you’ll get to see soon. It’s incredibly eerie to walk around the place, once vibrant and now all forgotten and unloved…weird stuff.
That caption? No lie. The circa 1920s Ogilvie Grain Elevator in Wrentham Alberta gets the once over from a dedicated group of volunteers. The grounds are tidied up, things fixed, junk hauled away and rotted grain and thick layers of pigeon doo-doo, accumulated over eons, disposed of one shovel at a time. No fun, but it’s gotta be done. Wanted to be supervisor, but they gave us a broom instead. The group seen, C&C included, owns the elevator.
A link to the piece, published July 24th 2017…The Last Wood Ogilvie.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that we have a thing for pinball and any opportunity to document one, well, we’re there. Got to watch this one being tuned up, the work being done by friend Gary Makota, of Gary Makota Pinball Repair (the last of his kind almost). The dude’s amazing! It was common for 1970s pins, as this one is, to use First Nation’s themes in a rather stereotypical way. Connie takes a stab at the high score – we’re looking over her shoulder – and fails miserably at it. Curses were heard…she stormed out defeated…she’s got a quick fire temper!
Published! And it happened August 03rd 2017…Golden Arrow.
At Rowley Alberta, a ghost town, for their famous once monthly pizza night. It’s off to the Sam’s Saloon, dreams of beer and pepperoni soon to be realized, then between slices a walk about town and a few pictures snapped.
Bandit and the town’s grain elevator, seen while being filmed for a TV production. Don’t worry we’ll let everyone know when it’ll be broadcast. Simply this, a videographer followed us, and a couple friends along for the adventure, as we explored four separate ghost towns near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border over four days. It was cold, miserable, and damn enlightening. Held back a lot of tears that weekend in April. Not all were from the biting cold.
We never intended to document this place. It just happened. As things often do for us. Not much time to take it in, but we’re making plans to go back. Lots of old stuff here, cars from the 1910s to today, machinery, farm equipment, this and that. And this old TV. There’s a good quarter section of stuff here. It’s a playground!
A couple farmers own it (private property). It’s a pretty photogenic place, Fuslier SK, dare I say even perhaps a bit better than Bents, with a couple old houses, some former businesses, and that cool grain elevator seen in back. A fisheye lens disorts the scene. Connie fights the cold. Damn it was freezing. This was one town visited for that TV production mentioned.
More from the TV piece…by this point in the production we were getting big heads. Where the hell is my Latte?! I’ll be in my trailer! Seen here, deep inside the bowels of an old school, Byron Robb, and film photographer Rob Pohl and his big view camera. We shot mostly inside, given the frigid winds this day. It was a hard day to shoot. But we toughed it out.
This old church has a collapsing foundation, perhaps terminal. How long it’ll last is hard to say. On the vast plains of Saskactchewan.
One house, in a near ghost town, Western Saskatchewan, everything simply left behind. There’s dishes in the cupboard, food on shelves (perhaps petrified), and stuff hanging in the closet. Picked up the phone, fulling expecting to get a dial tone. Nothing but silence.
The strangest repurposing of a Boler Trailer ever! This one’s an empty shell and is a giant rolling Camera Obscura (Google it). Those crazy art types! The images projected inside have a level of clarity that’s mind blowing. Check it out at the next Beakerhead.
The post has been published! September 06th, 2017…Camper Obscura.
Maybe you’ve seen this place in the show “Hell on Wheels”, or some other similar themed production? I bet you have. Seen here, just a small part of a full western town, not terribly far from the city of Calgary, but looking remote, and as though from another era. But it’s all a facade. A convincing one at that.
This ranch house is a bit deceiving. The second story is false, the stone work is fibreglass or some kind of foam. But does it look the part. The location looks far removed from civilization, but in fact is a short distance from a huge population base. This is why film makers love the area for western productions.
We know you’ve been eagerly awaiting it. Here it is! The article, published July 26th 2017…Scott Ranch.
Closed since the 1990s, the location here the Red Deer River Valley, among the hoo-doos, in the Drumheller region. The place is hike in, since the road in has badly deteriorated, meaning few people visit it (anyway, it’s on private land). Once a rockin’ joint, with on site camping, it’s all quiet now. The occasional sighting of some ghostly boozehound apparition has been reported, however.
Was to act as guide for a visiting train buff from across the pond, taking them for a full on tour of the Aspen Crossing operation in Mossleigh Alberta. Including a complimentary ride. They no-showed – not even a phone call (shades of my dating life in the 20s) – but no worries, there’s trains to photograph. So it wasn’t a total wash. Thanks to Jason Thornhill here, even if it didn’t pan out.
Spent the day there…and didn’t see it all. A nice friendly museum, great staff, dedicated volunteers, and a wonderful collection of stuff, all manner of things, which to view. We shot more photos than I care to count. Now we have to figure out which ones to use! Seen, the inside of a former church.
Have a thing for old phones. It’s a weakness. For your approval, the interior of a vintage farmhouse. Like everyone, we picked up the receiver to see if it was live, which of course it wasn’t. Interesting side note: you author has rewired a lot of old phones like this to work on a modern landline. Yes, with some changes, that do not alter the appearance or even the interior bits, it can be done. One down side, of course, is there is no dial. Best used for incoming calls (alternately you can tap-tap call the operator, or add an exterior dial unit).
Here’s a link to the article, published on July 5th 2017…Museum Tour: Viking Alberta.
Paced this one – the track parallels a paved highway – once we caught up with it that is – 100kph. It was moving! Up near Viking Alberta, where the trains come often, outpace cars on the highway, and seemingly stretch from horizon to horizon (the car count for one: 212). There will be random stuff for this post, heavy on the trains but also showing other things we found as we aimlessly drove about.
Take a look, the piece posted September 18, 2017…The Trains Here, Do They Fly.
We won’t hold it against him. Included in this fellow’s collection are some that run, many that don’t and other miscellaneous machinery. All protected by a huge swarm of mosquitoes!
Amen to that! Have a thing for this onion-dome topped churches and never miss the opportunity to document them. Nuff said.
Time for church, September 14, 2017…Kopernick.
Potash cars involved in an, ahem, “little” derailment near the town of Bawlf Alberta. They’ve been loaded on flat cars, their destination, who knows. Usually they’re scrapped on site, but perhaps the insurance company needs to looks at them first. Or something. In total several dozen of them left the rails, just down the track here. They wouldn’t let us get close to where it happened. Understandable I guess…not like they want that sort of publicity. We pulled the journalist card and still lost the bet.
Published! On October 12th, 2017…The Bawlf Incident.
Just over century old, this operational steamer has just been loaded onto the flat-deck, it’s destination, the Rails and Tales event in Stettler Alberta, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, July 1st. We documented it getting loaded, which due to mud problems (it rained hard the night before) took most of the day. But it was handled with a level of precision and expertise that made it a joy to watch.
One of the most eagerly awaited posts, and the 1000th one (yes 1k!) here at BIGDoer.com, published August 30th, 2017, here it is…Canadian National Railways #1392.
Just a small sampling of the collection at the Alberta Railway Museum, just north of Edmonton Alberta. They got a lot of stuff shoehorned into a small space. A joy to visit for any train buff, it was hard to leave and no doubt will be the same for you. Article coming soon. I promise.
Once used to access coal mines, in Canmore Alberta, it’s now a link a walking trail network. A more stunning location could not be imagined. Ever.
An all concrete building, looking more like some strange above-ground cold war era bunker than anything else, found by chance. It’s not the most exciting historical study, and is not even that old, but for sheer weirdness and visual appeal, it can’t be beat.
Here’s the article, published on August 21st 2017…Concrete Monolith.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: 2016 and 2017.
Location: All over Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Article references (and thanks): Those will be for later.
Many of the places seen are on private property with BIGDoer.com being given permission to enter.