The Grange Hotel in Carmangary was built in 1909. We woke up this morning to word that it had been destroyed by fire overnight. Unfortunately, even though the fire department in Carmangay is just a block or two away, once these old wooden structures catch fire they are pretty much impossible to stop. The dry wood is one factor and often these buildings have been renovated multiple times over the years which creates all sorts of voids and hidden spaces which allow fire to spread quickly. Often there is nothing that can be done other than protecting the exposures and then “surround and drown”.
It seemed appropriate to re-post a link and some photos from our visit to Carmangary back in September of last year. We didn’t get to go into the hotel (closed due to CoVID) and now we’ll never get the chance. Remember, no matter how busy you are, stop and take photographs whenever you can because you never know when something is going to disappear from the landscape. You may never get the chance to “come back later when we have more time.”
St. Louis, Saskatchewan is home to the impressive Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Bridge, which was built in 1915. In 1928 two roadbeds were added to the outside of the bridge for automobile traffic, which at the time made it the only bridged crossing of the South Saskatchewan River between Saskatoon and Prince Albert. The rail line was abandoned in 1983 and the tracks were removed but the bridge continued to serve highway traffic for another 31 years.
Saskatchewan Highway 2 was re-routed and now bypasses the town of St. Louis and the bridge was closed in 2014. We were fortunate enough to be in the area in July of that year and took the opportunity to look at the bridge and make one last drive across it. I recently came across our footage and decided to share it with you.
Recently I had an email from a former student who attended West Hope School right up until it closed in 1960. She had seen my posting about West Hope School and she let me know that the school is at a critical junction in its history and was likely going to be put up for sale for development into an acreage. We all know that “development” and “historical preservation” are often mutually exclusive terms.
She ended her email with this statement: “At the heart of this is whether subsequent generations have the interest and committment [sic] to safeguard it’s future. Sadly this seems doubtful…”
Always one for a healthy internet debate, I would love to prove her wrong, but I know I can’t. It’s not just the subsequent generations, it is the current people in power and the people with money who don’t have the interest and drive to preserve history. Too many are content to let it slip away and focus on the prospect of some quick money.
There has been discussion on some local Facebook groups talking about the property being for sale. Sadly, it appears the end is near for West Hope and another one of Alberta’s historic one-room school houses is destined for the scrap heap.
On my original post from 2017, I posted a few pictures of the school I took back in 2007. At that time the school was open and accessible, whereas now it is posted as No Trespassing. So, for those who will likely never get to see it in person, especially the inside, here are all of my photos from November 17, 2007.
(Don’t judge me for the quality, I’m posting them all regardless of how poorly composed they are! That said, my old Canon S3IS was a great little point-n-shoot camera back in the day.)