Yes, we’ve been neglecting the then and now posts. We’ve read the many emails asking why. There’s a couple reasons. First, we’re busier than we’ve ever been documenting old historic places and as a result, sadly, other things we do have to take a back seat. We have to go where the money and action is, and trust me it’s NOT these then and now articles, as much as we really love doing them. The biggest problem, however, is a lack of suitable “then” photos to use as fodder*. The well’s almost run dry it seems.
Still, here’s one. And know this, there’s more in the pipeline. We’ve shot a half dozen or so, thus far and it’s just a matter of finding the time to post them. This here one is interesting as your author takes credit for both the then and now photos. In the 1990s, I was kept busy delivering oil field equipment in the area documented and in a rare moment of spare time shot the then photo. Then it was back on the road.
This then and now plays out in tiny burg of Queenstown on the plains southeast of Calgary. The town was established in the 1920s and never grew to be more than a few blocks square. Today, a couple people call it home and many streets lead to nothing.
Seen in both shots…there’s the garage in back, a popular place with ghost town photographers then as now. Look online and see a million images showing it. Heck, some might even be ours – we’ve documented it a number of times over the years.
Anyway, most recently we got an invite from the owner to go inside (it’s not abandoned) and shot this resultant then and now during that visit. The building dates from the 1920s and to know it more, please go here: Queenstown Garage. It’s an interesting read!
Notice how little it’s changed over the years. There used to be an old car sitting out front that’s now inside. In it’s place are a couple pieces of vintage farm equipment.
The power poles. They’re all still there, each leaning as it did way back then. These were in fact useful in helping us line up the shot – and it’s done in-camera by the way, no with only super-minor tweaking and adjusting in post production (mostly in relation to “keystoning”).
Looks like there’s more poles in Queenstown than people!
Back when the first picture was shot, there were a fair number of grain elevators in Queenstown, of which two can be seen in the then photo (the furthest one, just). Some of these structures dated back as far as the 1920s. The one in front still wore old Federal Grain colours and company logos. This firm was a big player in the industry with outlets in many prairie towns and was bought out in the 1970s. The elevator behind wears Alberta Wheat Pool colours, the firm took over Federal (Alberta outlets only). These buildings were all gone by the 2000s.
We did a piece on these elevators some time ago. The article is an old one and is not as well done as we like with lots of missing history. Still, here it is: Prairie Sentinels – Queenstown Alberta. Maybe one day we’ll revisit the subject and do a better job. If time ever permits.
There used to be a prairie branchline running in behind the elevators. It dated from the 1920s and closed about 2000-ish. Spent a huge amount of time near those tracks back then and never once saw a train pass. Or even signs of one (like grain cars on the elevator sidings).
The field in front differs – old vehicles and such are stored there today and a fence now surrounds the property. In the 1990s, it was an empty field. Very long ago there were businesses and houses here. Lots of old bits of metal can be found by kicking aside the grass in that area.
Not seen in the photos but just behind our shooting position is another interesting building in town, which we toured a couple years back. Here it is: Queenstown Community Hall
* Wait, there’s a lot of old pictures out there. What do you mean by scarcity? We knew you’d ask so here’s the reasons why some old photos don’t qualify for inclusion in a trademark BIGDoer then and now…
- We can’t establish copyright.
- The view today is obstructed (often the biggest problem).
- Shooting would require us to do something dangerous like standing in the middle of a busy road.
- So much has changed from the old days there’s zero to connect the two eras.
- Up close and tight shots (IE downtown scenes for example) rarely work for technical reasons.
- We rely on others sending in photos and fewer are doing it today (hey, ask how you can help).
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: 1997 and 2017.
Location: Queenstown, AB.
Article references and thanks: Dave Lawson, Book: Snake Valley – a history of Lake McGregor and area.
All shots were from public roads or where permission was given.