We’re nearing mid-September and the nights are downright chilly, but there is still a fair amount of summery colour lingering in Beaulieu Gardens at Lougheed House. To read a bit about this historic site, which dates to 1891, click here. And if you get a chance to visit Calgary, be sure to stop in for a tour – the mansion is gorgeously appointed and the grounds feature a spectacular variety of plants during the growing season.
Bighorn Falls, Ya Ha Tinda, Alberta, September 2017. This was my first time to Ya Ha Tinda, which has the distinction of being “the only federally operated working horse ranch” in Canada. The horses that are raised and trained here are used by Parks Canada staff to patrol the national parks in Alberta and other parts of western Canada. The ranch has a long history dating back to the early 1900’s, and there is evidence that the site was inhabited well before that! (You can read more here). I was absolutely amazed by the incredible wild beauty of the area and a return trip is already planned for next year!
On a recent trip to Pincher Creek, Alberta, it was absolutely imperative that we stop at the historical Lebel Mansion and view the rose garden created and maintained by the Oldman Rose Society. It was a good thing there weren’t any other visitors, as I couldn’t stop making appreciative “ooh” and “ahh” noises. Also, I may have drooled a little.
A few highlights:
‘Morden Snow Beauty’
And here is the beautiful mansion, built in 1910 by a local merchant named Timothee Lebel. He lived there until 1924, when he donated the building to a religious order and it became a hospital. It now houses an art gallery and several studios for artists.
Another image from our trip to the Badlands a few weeks ago…. The East Coulee bridge was an essential link required by the CNR and CPR railways to cross the Red Deer River and service both the Monarch and Atlas coal mines, as well as enable coal delivery by train throughout the region. The bridge was built in 1936 but was destroyed by flooding 12 years later and had to be reconstructed. It was in use until the 1970’s, when the Atlas Mine closed. The Howe Truss design is truly unique – this is the only wooden railway bridge still standing in Canada that has this boxy design. Well, barely standing, that is…the deck is completely rotting out and although there is a big push to save this amazing piece of architecture and history, it will be an expensive fix if it is undertaken. My family has a personal connection to East Coulee: my Dad spent part of his childhood there, as he and his family lived in the village while my Grandpa worked at the Atlas mine. In his memoir, my Grandpa wrote about East Coulee:
In November 1952, East Coulee had a population of about two thousand; there was a school for grade one to nine, two grocery stores, one hardware store, a lumber yard, a bakery, two vehicle repair shops, a hotel with beer parlor and also a small church. A wooden railroad bridge, which also served for vehicle traffic, connected East Coulee with the mines on the right side of the river and the Monarch camp, which was a separate little hamlet with its own school, store, and hotel with beer parlor.
Now, this was a fascinating find! A short (about 2 km, one way) hike west from the Heart Creek parking lot near Canmore, Alberta leads you to this gigantic cave carved out of the base of Mount McGillivray. My hubby and I headed out there a few weeks ago to check it out.
There is plenty of speculation about the purpose of this huge excavation, but it seems that a private enterprise called The Rocky Mountain Vault and Archive Company started digging it out in the late 1960’s, presumably so that they could rent space to individuals and corporations to store documents (in the event that the Cold War took a nasty turn, perhaps?). You can read more about their ambitious plans for the site here (it was slated to become operational in 1970) – but there doesn’t seem to be any information about why they never finished the project. At any rate, it’s an amazing place to visit (and fortunately, there weren’t any creepy Hallowe’en masks hanging from the ceiling when we went – my heart wouldn’t have been able to handle the fright).
Looking towards the entranceway from inside the vault.
Very little remains of this early twentieth-century mansion in Calgary. These rough sections of foundation and walls half-buried in the grass and trees are all that’s left of Lindsay’s Folly, a man’s dream that never quite came true.
Dr. Neville Lindsay came to Calgary in 1883 and set up a thriving medical practice; he then skipped off to find Klondike gold and returned home a very wealthy man. He bought several properties in the city – one of them being the first Knox Presbyterian Church, which was no longer being used. He decided to dismantle the church and use the sandstone from it to build a house. It was a great plan, and the house was shaping up nicely, with 12 to 14 rooms in the works and huge archways erected in the entrance, but construction suddenly ground to a halt and the unfinished house was left abandoned.
Why was the house never finished? A lost love, perhaps? Or the fear that the building was on precarious footing and would slide into the Elbow River below? (Erosion can be such a bother!).
Nope. The truth is, when World War I broke out, Lindsay simply lost his fortune. The banks reneged on his mortgages, which, with a combined total of one million dollars, was an astronomical sum in those days (well, still is!). Money comes, money goes….