Majorville Medicine Wheel

Revisiting familiar places is always fun.  This time we made our first trip out to the Majorville Medicine Wheel since November of 2016.  Last time we were with our friend Richard Hansen, this time we brough Chris and Connie of BigDoer.com along with Emily’s parents to join us on the trip.

We noticed a couple of changes since our last visit.  The biggest change was the addition of signage as you get closer to the medicine wheel, showing which directions to take to get to the site.  When we were here in 2016, there was nothing to mark the way.  In conjunction with the new signs, the side tracks which branched off from the main “road” in are now signed as “No Motorized Vehicles”.  I guess they really want to limit how traffic approaches the site as to limit the damage done to the native prairie grasses.

Overall, I don’t mind the changes, although it means we would have had to walk out more than a kilometer if we wanted to see if “the chair” is still present and looking out over the Bow River.  We simply didn’t have time.

The Chair

“The Chair”

The biggest reason I wanted to revisit this site is that I wanted the chance to see it from the air with the drone.  And, as you can see in the video below, there was plenty of opportunity to get out and fly.

That’s it for now.  Summer is rapidly coming to a close but we still have some more exploration and history to share before the snow flies.  Stay tuned!  Thanks for reading and watching.

 

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Return to Nordegg

When faced with a Sunday and no real plans, what else to do besides jump in the car and head out and visit another one of Alberta’s historic places?  Today’s journey takes us to the ghost town of Nordegg and the remains of the Brazeau Collieries.

This is not the first time I have been to Nordegg.  Even going back to a child on family camping trips to nearby Rocky Mountain House, we would drive past the Nordegg turnoff.  I remember asking my parents “What’s in Nordegg?” and they would answer “Nothing, just the remains of an old mine.”  Well, what a way to stoke the imagination of a child already fascinated with old abandoned places.  When I would ask if we could visit, they would tell me “No, it’s a prison now so you can’t go in there.”  Rather than being some parental white lie told as a means of shutting down my imagination, they were telling the truth for this was the era when the Alberta government was, indeed, running a minimum security prison on the site.

It was not until adulthood that I was able to visit the town properly.  In fact, I even got to take the complete tour.  The date was July 26, 2002.  My images from that era are poor quality captures, done with a JVC digital camcorder which took stills at a staggering 640×480 resolution.  Oh, how I wish I had either been shooting film at that time, or at least shooting with a “real” digital camera of the era.  As I would see on my current visit, much has changed and I wish I had better captures of that visit from more than 16 years ago.

I made a second visit to Nordegg with a group of Geocaching friends in August of 2014.  That trip was more focused on caching than history, however.  Emily and I would make the trip up here via the Forestry Trunk Road again in May of 2017.  However, being pre-Victoria Day the tours were not yet operating so we couldn’t see the mine site, just the town.  You can see the drone footage of that trip here.

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So, on my fourth official visit to Nordegg, we finally were able to do the tour.  We learned that, unlike the tour I had done back in 2002, the tours are now broken into an “upper” and “lower” portion.  The upper tour focuses on the two remaining mine entrances, the ancillary buildings like the shower house, power house, and warehouse.  The lower tour focuses on the briquette plant where the coal was fashioned into briquettes — for use in steam locomotives, not your Weber grill.

We tried to book spots on both the 10:00am tour as well as the 2:00pm tour so we could see the whole thing, but they currently weren’t offering the lower tour because of some sort of issue — I believe I heard it was related to the foundation of one of the buildings or something of that nature.  So, the upper tour it was!

The upper tour lasts about two hours.  You can only access the collieries site with a guide.

After the tour, we went back into the town and checked out some of the changes since our last visit.  The old bank has been placed on a new foundation, has been painted and sealed off from the elements.  Dang it, I knew I should have taken photos of the inside when we were there and it was open.  There also has been some touch-up work done on the old service station too, but nothing compared to the changes made to the bank.

We also took time to visit the cemeteries, both the main town cemetery as well as the grave site dedicated to the 29 miners who died in an explosion inside the #3 shaft back on October 31, 1941.  There was an older coupler doing some cleanup work in the town cemetery, clearing brush and cutting grass.  An employee of the historical site came by and shut them down.  We couldn’t hear the conversation clearly, but it sounded like their efforts were not appreciated by the staff.  Not sure what the story was there.

We tried to tour the museum housed inside the heritage centre, which is the old school.  However, it was locked and staff told us they had hoped it would be open by now but circumstances were preventing it.  Again, not sure of the story there.

Anyway, you’ve read the story so now you should check out the video of our tour.  Come visit Nordegg with us!

Date of Visit:  July 29, 2018

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Downtown Drumheller

In between our two days of exploring the Badlands, we had some time to wander around downtown Drumheller and take in some of the sights.  Two tired people, a dog, and a camera — sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

 

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Alberta Ghost Town Tour: Part 2

And, it is done.  I have finally completed the video from the second day of the annual Alberta ghost town tour.  While it seems the summer is moving so quickly this year, there are still plenty of explorations to come before the snow flies.

Hope you enjoy the video!

Kirkpatrick

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Alberta Ghost Town Tour: Day One

Each year since 2014, we get together with a group of friends and tour around the small towns and abandoned places in an area of Alberta for a weekend.  This year our tour took us back to the area surrounding Drumheller and the Alberta badlands.

In previous years I would always consider this a photography trip, but my focus this year was less on the photos and more on video.  Whether it’s a symptom of owning a drone or simply the desire to branch out into a new medium, I find myself becoming more interested in telling the story of the places we visit using video versus photos.  Is it a phase or a new direction for DanOCan.com?  I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So, I invite you to take a few minutes and join me on a video tour of our first day of the Alberta Ghost Town Tour, 2018 Edition.

Golden Grain School

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Camrose Heritage Railway Station

I originally thought this post was going to be more video-based but I failed to capture enough footage to make any sort of compelling video.  So, instead, it becomes another blog post with some photos.

We stumbled across this museum by accident.  At least it was an accident in terms of planning on visiting it.  We were driving through Camrose and saw the signs on the road and decided we should take a few minutes and visit.  It was already getting late into the afternoon and we still needed to get home to release the dog before his bladder exploded.

The Camrose Heritage Railway Station and Park is run by the Canadian Northern Society.  We are well aware of this group thanks to previous visits to Big Valley and Meeting Creek.  In fact, the group was very accommodating to us and made a special effort to get someone to Meeting Creek to let us into the railway station there as part of the Central Alberta Museum Tour 2017.  I’ll link to my YouTube videos of those places down below at the end of the post.

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The main museum is housed inside the 1911 Canadian Northern Railway station.  This is not the original location of the station, as it was originally located a bit east of the main town core but it was moved here in the early 1990s prior to becoming a museum.

The museum grounds also house the Morgan Garden Railway, a G-scale railway which contains models of a number of familiar sights, including the aforementioned Meeting Creek and Big Valley.

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In addition, there are a number of smaller buildings on the grounds as well.  These include a watchmen’s shed, which was originally a passenger shelter as well as a railway bunkhouse.  Each building contains photos and artifacts which highlight the railway history of the area.  Camrose was an important railway hub for the area, with both Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific running lines into the town.

Back inside the main museum, there is the White Elephant Gift Shop which is stocked with various items donated by the community to the museum.  Proceeds from the sales go to supporting the Society and their efforts.  We bought a couple of small things.

I feel like this place deserves a far better write-up than I am giving them but, as I mentioned above, this was an unplanned stop and a brief visit.  We’ll be sure to check them out again at some point when we have more time to do a proper visit.

This visit occurred on June 9, 2018.

Here are the links to my videos from Big Valley and Meeting Creek.

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We Finally Make it to History Road

This post is more visual than wordy.  Take a little trip with the DanOCan.com crew as we make our way up north to attend an event I’ve been trying to get to for several years.

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