Historic Calgary Week: Pine Creek Cemetery / De Winton

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.,

 

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4 Responses to Historic Calgary Week: Pine Creek Cemetery / De Winton

  1. Marjorie Fenton says:

    I tried today to go to the Pine Creek Cemetery, the original road has been discontinued at the intersection of 210 ave se and Macleod Traii south, how do I get to it?? Cannot find on Google Maps. and this page does not give a location iste.

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    • danocan says:

      Yes, the area has changed a lot since my visit in 2013. I had to go back to my photos (which I had geotagged) to find the cemetery on the map. Try these coordinates in Google Earth: 50.863050, -114.025376
      It looks like (according to Google) you can head east from the current intersection of 210th Avenue and Macleod Trail and follow it to the first roundabout. From there if you head south you might be able to access the original alignment of 210th and the cemetery. I’m not too sure as I have not been there since the original post, but hopefully the coordinates will assist you with locating it, if nothing else.

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  3. Richard Bell says:

    I rented a new apartment in Legacy, and I don’t know how many times I stood on my balcony and I finally noticed it on my right. Anyways, my kids and I took a walk and had a look. I love cemeteries, because they tell you a lot about history. They development company should have done something for the cemetery to make it nicer.

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