Road Trip to Moose Jaw – Part 1

In what I expect to be a three-part series, we chronicle our journey with Bella the Boler to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Our ultimate goal is to attend the First Annual Swap Meet at the Sukanen Ship and Pioneer Village Museum.

Our first stop along the way is the Brooks Aqueduct Historic Site.

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First Camping Trip with Bella the Boler

It’s our first time taking our 1978 Boler 1700 out for a camping trip.

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We Bought a Boler!

We joined the vintage trailer club and bought a 1978 Boler 1700. This is a major downsize from our old fifth wheel and also represents a step back an additional 22 years from our last trailer. What surprises will owning a vintage trailer have in store for us? We’ll find out as the adventure unfolds.

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Exploring Antelope Hill Provincial Park

Established in 2014, Antelope Hill Provincial Park is one of the newest provincial parks in Alberta. The park is on land which was donated to the Province by Gottlob Schmidt. “Schmitty”, as he was known locally, originally moved onto the land in 1934 as a young boy.

He gifted the land to the people of Alberta with the intent that it be used as a park. Not long after making the donation, he moved into nearby Hanna but continued to make visits out to his homestead. Schmitty passed away in late 2018 and the Government of Alberta set about investing more than $530,000 to prepare the park for opening to the public.

We knew nothing about this park until May 30th when we saw a posting on Facebook from Alberta Parks saying it was now accessible to the public. That was all the incentive we needed to take the roughly 2.5 hour drive from Cochrane to go check it out.

Covering 940 acres of natural grassland, the park is intended for low-impact activity such as hiking and wildlife watching. During our visit we had the entire place to ourselves and really enjoyed the silence and peacefulness of this location.

It wouldn’t be a patented DanOCan Road Trip if we didn’t make a few detours along the way to check out some different things. Come along for the ride with us as we venture out to Antelope Hill, just north of Hanna, Alberta.

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Searching for the Lousana Grain Elevator

According to research done by our late friend Jim Pearson, there are five Alberta Pacific Grain elevators remaining in the province of Alberta. The company itself disappeared (was bought out) in 1967 so it isn’t surprising there aren’t many examples left for us to see.

I had never given it much thought, but one day I realized we have visited four of the five elevators over the course of our travels. Two are owned and maintained by museums (Castor and Meeting Creek), one is privately owned by a local Hutterite colony (Rayley) and the fourth is abandoned and endangered (Dorothy).

The fifth? It apparently is the newest of the remaining five, having been built in 1928. It stood in the hamlet of Lousana up until 1973 when it was moved to a private farm east of the town.

Lousana itself is a small settlement, counting less than sixty people according to the 2016 census. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway came through the area around 1912 and local settler William Henry Biggs sold some of his land for purposes of establishing a town. Biggs was from Missouri and he suggested they name the new town for Louisiana, Missouri. The postal service eventually decided to name it Lousana instead.1

After taking a quick drive around the town of Lousana, we ventured east of town to see if we could spot the former Lousana grain elevator. It wasn’t hard, for even in this part of the province with a more rolling landscape than around home, we could see the elevator off in the distance for several kilometres.

Being on private property, we could not get close to it nor could we put the drone up in the air to get photos that way. We opted to stay on the public road and capture some images from there. Once we get in the Spring/Summer planting season we might need to make a drive out to On Earth Greenhouses so we can buy some plants and get a closer look.

ABOVE AND BELOW: The former Lousana grain elevator now stands on private property east of the town. Photo taken February 28, 2022.

So, there we have it — we have completed the pentafecta (Is there actually an equivalent to ‘trifecta’ but referring to five achievements instead of three?) of Alberta Pacific Grain elevators. Unless, of course, someone out there knows of more that we have missed. If so, please update me in the comments and we might just have another road trip to complete.

Below you will find our video of our road trip:

And, finally, here are photos of the other four Alberta Pacific Grain elevators we have visited across the province.

ABOVE: Rayley, Alberta as seen in August of 2016. Reportedly the oldest grain elevator in Alberta, built in 1905.

ABOVE: Castor, Alberta as seen in July of 2021. Owned by the Castor & District Museum, built in 1917.

ABOVE: The 1920s-era grain elevator at Dorothy, Alberta as seen in September of 2012. The roof of the elevator was ripped off in a windstorm on July 22, 2015 and it is one of the most endangered abandoned sites in the province.

ABOVE: The Alberta Pacific Grain elevator (left) in Meeting Creek was built circa 1917 and is maintained by the Canadian Northern Society. Photo taken July of 2017.

1 Sanders, Harry M. (2003). In The Story Behind Alberta Place Names (p. 201). Red Deer Press.

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