Alberta snapshot: Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.

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My brother, my hubby, and I had the incredible opportunity to take a guided, interactive tour at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary near Cochrane, Alberta a couple of weekends ago.  The sanctuary is a permanent home for several rescued/surrendered wolfdogs (and one coydog), all of which would probably not be alive today without this amazing facility and its staff.  (The Sanctuary also rehomes adoptable wolfdogs).

Education about wolfdog behaviour and correcting the unfortunate misinformation about their breeding is the focus of the talk that accompanies the tour, and the highlight was the ability to feed treats to some of them (and get in a few pats if willing).  The high content wolfdogs such as Zeus and Kaida in the photograph above, are of course not receptive to touch but they were certainly keen on the chicken we offered!  If you want to learn more about the Sanctuary and its work (plus see photos and learn the histories of the other wolfdogs), check out their website here.

Alberta (historical) snapshot: East Coulee trestle bridge.

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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.

Alberta snapshot: The Badlands.

Instead of trekking out to the mountains, my hubby and I took an afternoon roadtrip to the Badlands a couple of weeks ago.  We didn’t do much hiking on this go, opting instead to take in the jaw-dropping scenery (it never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve been there), cross a ridiculously terrifying suspension footbridge, picnic with garter snakes on the banks of the river, and linger over drinks and grub at the Last Chance Saloon.  An absolutely perfect day!

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Horsethief Canyon, Drumheller 

It seems so appropriate that there was a turkey vulture and a couple of large crows feasting on a gopher carcass on the highway as we drove towards Horsethief Canyon.  It’s not difficult to imagine that, way back when, unsavoury characters hid stolen horses in this place – the canyon seems to stretch on forever.

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The 117 metre (384 foot) long Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Rosedale may be an easy crossing for some, but as many of you may recall, I have an insane phobia of heights. The bridge was originally built in 1931 for mine workers to use to commute to work (the mine was located in the hillside that you can see behind the bridge upright).  Of course, the bridge had a wooden deck at that time, which is far more anxiety-inducing than the metal construction the Alberta government replaced it with in 1958.

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The hamlet of Wayne is in the Guiness Book of World Records because in order to get to it, you have to cross the “most bridges in the shortest distance.”  In the 6 kilometres (3.73 miles) between Rosedale and Wayne, you encounter 11 bridges (most of them one lane only).  We stopped to eat at the empty municipal campground, and while my hubby was photographing a couple of wandering garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans) we found in a nearby hole, I was busy gawking wildly around and coiling the ol’ reflexes so I could drop my pasta salad and spring up onto the nearest bench as soon as those snakes (or any others) decided to make a slithering bid for my feet.

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In the few milliseconds I was not on snake watch, I enjoyed the view of the lazy, muddy Red Deer River.

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The Last Chance Saloon in Wayne is a famous landmark, having appeared in several films and commercials.  The interior is stuffed to the rafters with fascinating antiques and artefacts of historical significance to the area, as well as souvenirs from visitors from all over the world.  The adjacent Rosedeer Hotel, which we didn’t go into, is purportedly haunted – apparently, the third floor has been completely sealed off for decades, with much speculation as to why.   

Flowery Friday: Senator Patrick Burns Garden.

A little red and white for Canada Day!  I came across these blooms last week while at the Senator Patrick Burns garden here in Calgary.  The garden is adjacent to Riley Park, which boasts some pretty lovely formal mixed perennial/annual beds this year, despite the drought.

And early best wishes to those celebrating Independence Day in the States!  Enjoy your weekend, everyone!