A good sixty five years separate the two images used in this then and now article. The scene is Rosedale Alberta, in the Red Deer River Valley badlands, first along the train tracks in 1948 and then again in 2016, the same spot, but with the rails now gone. The original image is a postcard that shows some people’s belonging pilled up next to the rails during a flood – it appears the background area is partially under water and flow ice.
The town of Rosedale was founded around a century ago with the coming of the railway. Coal mines drove the local economy for many decades. Today, the place is home to several hundred people and was amalgamated into the town of Drumheller in the 1990s. Interestingly, in both the then and now photo nothing of the community can be seen – but it’s close by, behind that hill in the back and also a bit to the west and northwest, a bit off frame. Still, it looks as though there is nothing here.
Not seen, but just to the left, is the Rosebud River. At this point it is very close to where it joins the mighty Red Deer River (also just behind that hill) which cut the wide valley here. The flood mentioned in the old photo was caused by an ice jam several kilometres to the east down that larger waterway causing it and all those feeding it, in the immediate area, to back up and spill their banks. We found numerous documents that spoke of the Red Deer River flood of 1948. It seems a lot of people were affected.
It’s not clear who the people seen are, there are two if you look close, and where they and their belongings came from, but presumably they had a house nearby. Today the nearest one is a couple hundred metre behind the shooting position.
Various boxes and furniture can be seen in the pile. From the looks of it, it was all placed here hastily, understandable I guess since floods don’t make appointments. Presumably the railway roadbed was just high enough to avoid the water. Notice they placed the stuff just far enough off to the side to avoid them being hit by a passing train. I wonder how long it was before the waters receded? And what happened to these people’s lives as a result of this flood? It was tough time, I bet, for sure.
The postcard was produced by Vogue Studio of Drumheller, who seemed to be quite active in the 1930s and 1940s. Most, if not all their work, was from the local area and while a few colour examples were produced much of it was in plain old black and white. Despite spending much time researching the firm, that’s about all we found. Still, their work lives on via those images.
The railway track seen in the old photo was the CNR line running between Saskatoon Saskatchewan and Calgary Alberta. It was put down in the 1910s, by the Canadian Northern Railway (Alberta Midland charter), closed down in the 2000s and only pulled up last year. The rails being gone are pretty much the only significant change from then to now, and the rest of the scene today looks much as it did.
The postcard is a scan that comes from Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a resource of the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The image is no longer under copyright from what we could research, not unusual, these rarely are. The “then” image was sourced by this author but most seen on this website are sent in by readers.
If you have an old postcard or photo taken by yourself or someone in your family showing a scene that would make a good “then”, please drop us a line. We’ll revisit the site, shoot a similar photo and write about it in a article. You get credit and big than you from us. And you’ll likely learn something too.
Finding the exact location of this then photo was pretty simple and lining things up was a piece of cake too. This was in fact one of the easiest then and nows we’ve done. Recall we find most of these places by researching (we’re rarely told, and request to not be) and by simple footwork. As always, the now image was lined up in camera and not in post.
The BIGDoerMobile can be seen in our photo. It tends to sneak into these posts without us even realizing it.
A nearby grain elevator…
Prairie Sentinels – Rosedale Alberta.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: January, 2016.
Location: Rosedale, AB.
Article references: Book: Hills of Home – Drumheller Valley, CNR records.