Happy Accidents — Westerdale Church

Sometimes you stumble across something that can only be described as a “happy accident”.

Tonight I found myself doing some research on the ghost town of Alderson. Alderson is a place I have visited multiple times and I was trying to come up with a fresh perspective for an upcoming visit later this month. I was looking at old photos of the Alderson School and was thinking it would make a good focal point for the video I am planning.

While digging around the archives regarding old Alberta School Districts, I decided I should probably update my Excel spreadsheet which is where I store the information I have gathered about the various school districts I have encountered in the province.

I was searching through my photos and stumbled across a picture of Westerdale School. It was dated February 19, 2007. I don’t remember many details of that day but seeing as how it was a Monday I imagine it was Family Day and I was taking advantage of the long weekend by doing some Geocaching.

Westerdale School – February 19, 2007

I wasn’t sure where Westerdale was so I decided to look at other photos I had taken that day. One of them was of the Westerdale Church. I did a quick search online and found an article written by BWBandy about a miniature roadside church. I remembered that little church, having stopped in once and driven by multiple times. The little church stands as a tribute to the original Westerdale Church which stood on the site from 1904 – 2009. I remember during my visit I had thought “Damn, I would have loved to have seen the original building.”

That’s when I finally clued in. (Hey, it’s late and my mind is starting to wind down so I can go to bed.) I had seen the original church! It was right there, captured in my images from more than dozen years ago.

It’s unfortunate I hadn’t taken more time to look at the church back in 2007. I should have taken better photos; I should have tried the door to see if it was open. Unfortunately, that opportunity would never come again as the church would be torn down just two years later. That surprises me considering I have seen buildings in much worse shape last much longer than the Westerdale Church. All things considered, it didn’t look that bad in those snapshots.

So, the whole thing is a series of happy accidents from how I fell into a rat hole that I started digging in Alderson, moved to schools in general , and then to Westerdale specifically. Those throw-away snapshots are also a happy accident. A long gone church from a long-forgotten road trip now brought back to light. While photographically the images are nothing special, just quick “documentation shots”, they now hold a much deeper meaning to me.

Westerdale Church is just another one of the constant additions to my list of “Places I Have Photographed That No Longer Exist”. Remember to capture those photos when you can because you never know what will disappear next.

A windswept prairie road in front of Westerdale Church – February 19, 2007
Westerdale Church just two years before it would be demolished
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