Historic Calgary Week is a project of the Chinook Country Historical Society, which is a branch of the Historical Society of Alberta. Apparently this is the 23rd annual Historic Calgary Week, but I honestly never heard of it before this year. In fact, I only found out about it because Emily and I picked up a brochure at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre a couple weeks ago.
Between being out of town last weekend, a breakdown of the DanOCan Adventure Mobile and work prevented me from taking in any of the activities until yesterday when I was able to join in for a walk at the Pine Creek Cemetery near De Winton on the southern fringe of the city.
Actually, “southern fringe” is becoming less true every day. There are new developments being built to the north and the east of the cemetery and the south and west sides are surrounded by a RV storage facility. Urban sprawl and cookie-cutter soulless subdivisions are rapidly encroaching on this hidden gem.
By my count there were more than forty people attending this walk. They are all here for various reasons. Some have long-lost relatives buried here, others have close family members who have been laid to rest here just recently. Some are members of the cemetery’s operating board, members of the historical society, and some — like me — didn’t even know this place existed until they saw the event in the brochure.
I strike up a conversation with a fellow next to me. He is a member of the Mountain Bluebird Trails society, which was another organization/initiative I had never heard of before. They maintain the many nesting boxes you see hanging on fences along rural roads all throughout the southern portion of the province. I love learning about things like that!
That was just the first of many facts I learned as part of the tour:
- Where the intersection of Macleod Trail and 210th Avenue is today was a key crossing and stopping point for the bull trains coming to Calgary from Fort Benton, Montana. At one point there was a small settlement complete with general store and rooming house.
- While the cemetery was established in 1889, the settlement of De Winton was not started until 1892.
- De Winton was established to be a railroad siding so trains could be broken down into smaller units so they could make it over the Pine Creek hills to the west and north.
- Despite some of the highway signs to the contrary, the proper spelling is De Winton, not DeWinton or Dewinton.
- All of the land surrounding the cemetery now belongs to the City of Calgary but the cemetery land belongs to the M.D. of Foothills because the City didn’t want responsibility for it.
- All of the maintenance of the cemetery is done by students from Red Deer Lake School. They typically will mow the lawn three times per year.
After the walk I couldn’t resist the urge to drive over to De Winton and visit the elevators and abandoned railcars there.,