Sunday, July 17, 2016

Touring Southern Alberta – 5. Remington Carriage Museum

I never realized how much of a hub Lethbridge is - Highways 4, 3, and 5 all meet there and travel off into different directions.
Highway 4 (extends across the border from Interstate 15 in Montana) and led us to Writing-on-Stone; then we travelled Highway 3 to the Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump; and then onto Highway 5 to Cardston and the Remington Carriage Museum. So, all and all, we covered a fair amount of Southern Alberta.
Cardston and the area around there, have a rather interesting history. In the late 1880’s, Cardston became the first LDS (Mormon) settlement in Canada. They say that the impetus to come north from Utah and Montana was to escape the American laws against polygamy. Polygamy was integral part of the Mormon religion and is still up-held by certain extremist Mormon groups in North America. 
The first Canadian Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) was completed within the first months of their arrival (in 1887) at Cardston at the base of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The Kainai First Nation’s (Blood Tribe) Reserve . . . one of the largest reserves in North America . . . stretches out to the north of the community and the Canada-USA border is less than 25 miles to the south. To this day, the Mormon Church wields a strong influence over the community.
The Remington Carriage Museum is a park unto itself. It is situated on 20 acres on south end the Main Street of Cardston and covers over 64,000 square feet (5,900 m2 ).
We have been here before, but I think you can go a dozen times and still not see it all.
Before you even get to the building itself, the entrance offers a bronzed statue of the typical Western Cowboy:
(Taken in 2002 with Fred and then this year)

 Once inside the main building, there are rooms and rooms and rooms of carriages, wagons and sleighs. The Museum has the greatest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America (over 300).


 Many displays in the museum are set up to show the horses and wagons in their original settings.

others give us a glimpse of the travel mode of the times:

 And still others show the shop fronts needed to support the horse and buggy trade:

There are other incredible sites we tended to brush over lightly . . . like . . . many of the video displays; the carriage factory; the restoration shop, the stable; a carriage ride. And not least of all the Carriage Preservation Workshop where visitors can watch expert technicians carry out the art of blacksmithing, wheelrighting, woodworking, metalworking and finishing.
BUT . . . darn it, we just got tired!!
This is a different way of touring and . . . well, maybe our maturity is catching up with us!!
Our next challenge was to do the Dinosaur Trail and the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Touring Southern Alberta – 4. Frank Slide

We travel along Highway 3 west often.  At Fort McLeod, the road splits – Highway 2 goes north towards Calgary but Highway 3 is a major road to the mountains and beyond to British Columbia.
Every time we travel this, we see singular wind turbines sitting out there in the middle of the tranquil farm landscape and then we pass by the first wind farm built along the ridge.

I have always been fascinated by dead trees and the tree that marks the approach to the Crowsnest Pass is my favourite. 
They did threaten to remove it but the local folks protested and it now stands there rooted in concrete.

The Crowsnest Pass area was a magnet for immigrants – jobs abundant in the coal mines. 
Small mining towns sat along the track that carried the coal trains. The town of Frank sat at the base of the Turtle Mountain. Everyone knew the Mountain was unstable but it was rich in the coal that supported the company and, in turn, provided work for so many of the people who lived there.
In the early morning hours of April 29, 1903, the greatest landslide in North American history happened. Eighty-two million tonnes (90 million tons) of limestone - slid down the north slope of Turtle Mountain.

In 100 seconds: at least 76 people were buried alive under tons of massive limestone boulders; three-quarters of the homes in Frank were crushed like balsa wood; over a mile of the Canadian Pacific Railroad was completely destroyed; and a river became a lake.

Frank Slide Interpretive Centre does a good job of following the development of the coal communities in and around the Pass and the Frank Slide disaster.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Touring Southern Alberta - 3. Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

A day of rest (and cards, of course) and off again.
Women were not allowed in the Beer Parlours without an escort,
Indians were not allowed in the Beer Parlours at all.
I was raised in Southern Alberta and was oblivious to most of the Native peoples around me. I knew there was a reserve around Pincher Creek and another around Cardston but not much else. That was all before I started working with First Nations People both here and in Cape Breton.

Gradually over the years the Native Peoples have come into their own. The indigenous cultures have become an important and integral part of the culture in Southern Alberta  – although there are still patches of non-acceptance on both sides.

The Blackfoot Confederation is an interesting phenomenon. It is made up of three tribes — the Blackfoot proper (Siksika), the Bloods (Kainai), and the Peigan (Pekuni). Each tribe was independent, but they all spoke the same language and regarded themselves as allies.
They were a nomadic people and their movements were governed by the location of the buffalo, along with the weather and the season.

Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump has been constructed to remember and celebrate the history and traditions of the Prairie People. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1968, a Provincial Historic Site in 1979, and a finally a World Heritage Site in 1981 for its testimony of prehistoric life and the customs of aboriginal people.

The Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump has long been a sacred place for the Blackfoot tribes of Southern Alberta as has Writing-on-Stone. More than sacred places, Buffalo Jumps were critical to the survival of their people.

The ever-present winds creates waves through the prairie grass that lead to the imposing Rocky Mountains to the South and the sacred Vision Quest Hill to the North. 

The winds and dark, cool weather soon drove us inside the building. The passageway through the Centre unveils the environmental condition that enveloped the era of the buffalo hunt; the life-style of the indigenous peoples; the buffalo hunt itself and the consequence of Europeans migration.

Inside, you will discover five levels of exhibits that explore: buffalo hunting culture, the art of driving the great herds from the cliff, the eventual demise of the buffalo hunting culture, and the work of archaeologists at Head-Smashed-In.
I was most taken with the depictions of the Buffalo Hunt – the most vital aspect of their lives.

I felt like we just scratched the surface of all there was to see and do. We’ll need to go back again.