It is amazing how life can get in the way of living. Despite recently completing my short video of the Highway 27 bridge, I had completely forgotten about the photos I had taken that weekend. It was only as I was going through my monthly ritual of reviewing snapshots on my phone and moving the “keepers” onto my desktop computer did I discover I had some RAW images from our trip to Drumheller still in my “Imported” folder. This morning I finally had a chance to sit down and get them completed and sorted away.
On that trip our overall destination was to the East Coulee School Museum to see the premier of the the film “Forgotten Prairie” which starred our friends from BigDoer.com. If you haven’t seen it yet, take twenty minutes out of your day and watch it; I provided the link for you. Getting to meet with filmmaker Rueben Tschetter at the event and at the after party really filled me with a desire to make better videos, something I am going to work hard at over the next few years.
But, as always with us, the destination is only part of the journey.
First stop of the trip was the old hotel in Acme. I find myself being drawn to old hotels more and more. While they do not dominate the skyline of small prairie towns in the way that grain elevators do, they often share a historical connection as both were often tied to the coming of the railroads.
A bit further along the trip, Emily noticed an old school just north of the highway so we detoured to check it out. It was Sunbeam School. While prairie hotels have become a more recent fascination for me, old schools have always captivated me. I have been making a concerted effort to better document my visits to these schools. This includes properly Geotagging my photos and maintaining a spreadsheet of the various Alberta School Districts, their dates, locations, and the fate of the building itself.
Sunbeam School (later Sunbeam Community Center) is your classic one-room schoolhouse. There is the main entrance at the front which leads to a small cloakroom and then the main classroom behind, complete with the row of windows which were used to capture as much natural daylight as possible. Sunbeam operated from 1911 to 1949. The school has a more modern addition on the back and a bright red metal roof. It doesn’t appear to see much use anymore, but the newer roof and with most of the windows intact, it should withstand the ravages of nature for quite some time yet.
Our next stop of note was the community of Delia. The town was having its annual Fall Fair and we wanted to stop in and see our friends Jim and Donna. Jim, of course, is the driving force behind Vanishing Sentinels and he and Donna were selling Jim’s books and creations at the fair.
Delia is a bit of a hidden gem, close enough to the highway to be an easy detour but far enough off the road that most people won’t bother. We had lunch at the Delia Cafe and managed to learn plenty of the local politics by listening in to the conversations taking place amoungst the local population. I love small towns.
After spending the night at the Badlands Motel in Drumheller, we set out sites for home. The Badlands hotel has become our de facto place to stay in Drumheller. It’s older, inexpensive and clean — the “big three” when it comes to our motel selection criteria. The hotel has a newer section and two older sections. Our room was in the what appears to be the older of the two older sections, or at least the section which hasn’t been as well maintained. There was nothing wrong with it but it certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but we like places with a throwback vibe.
Before getting on the road, we had breakfast at WHIFS Flapjack House. Likely the best breakfast in Drumheller, it is part of the Badlands Motel so motel guests get a discount on their meal.
We had been up quite late the night before so our journey home was quiet and uneventful, except for when I lost my cellphone at one of the scenic overlooks above the town which resulted in a bit of backtracking. We did pull off the highway and capture an image of the grain elevator at Kirkpatrick, however.
With that, another whirlwind weekend was in the books. Without a doubt, the area surrounding Drumheller is one of our favorite places to explore. Whether it’s Pizza Night in Rowley, grabbing a beer at the saloon in Wayne, revisiting the churches and grain elevator in Dorothy for the umpteenth time, there are always old haunts to check in on and new discoveries waiting to be made.