Friday, September 26, 2014

Alberta Impressions

Many people do not consider the prairies to be a destination worth to visit, but traveling through rural Alberta can have many rewards. That is if one has an interest in history as I always had. Rural Alberta is interesting because there are still so many signs of the early days when settlers first had arrived ready to take the land under their plow. Central Alberta is full of old grey buildings, some of them built of logs others just sticks and beams. Many leaning against prevailing winds, some of them overgrown by trees. The buildings are small, witnessing of the need to get them raised fast. Summers often were short and winters could be extremely long and gruesome with relentless blizzards beating upon the land, making transportation of any kind impossible. Isolation on hidden-away farmsteads miles from neighbours could have terrible impact on the people trying to survive on a rather moderate if not downright meager harvest.
20140925_155037-001                           A homestead ducking down in a depression

Most recently I came across an old homestead sitting in a depression of the terrain like it was meant to huddle down and stay out of the worst weather. But these depressions were also snow holes where snow depth could pile as high as 10ft or more.
On my walk down to the main house I passed 2 outbuildings beaten to the point of being totally useless. But then there wasn’t anybody around to use them either. Junk was piled all over the place and I had to watch my step not to get stuck in old wires or open cans. The last wind had already blown much of the leaves off the trees. And trees had grown all the way to the porch steps like it was ready to consume the pitiful looking rest of the building. The front door was not locked and it opened with a screech. Inside, junk was spread out a foot deep. Old work clothes hung on nails along the wall, a table, covered in junk was the last loose piece of furniture. The adjacent room had an old stove by the wall. Prairie wind was whistling through broken windows.
What had happened here? Who had lived here and who had grown up in a place like this? What had become of them?
I had to look around, was stunned by my surroundings, unable to move, staring at the decay left after human habitation. Then I remembered… I was trespassing here. I was a stranger and with a shudder I turned around, walked out and made sure the door was shut behind me. My van was up at the dirt road and if somebody would come along they might get suspicious.
But experiences like this can provide for a better understanding the history of the settlers. Alberta has a number of good history museums, Go and visit them and you don’t need to be a trespasser if you want to take pictures of the old buildings.

Thanks for dropping by!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy your blog and particularly today's posting. Like you, I find the prairies anything but boring, there's so much those old buildings could tell us, isn't there. Many thanks.


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