Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Our Summer from Hell

It felt like our summer from hell . . . like a roller coaster ride . . . we had our ups and downs . . . the highs were great and the lows had me wondering if we would ever climb back up.  But we survived and had some interesting road-time.
The end of May and we needed a break.
The mountains are my 'go-to' place when I need to get a perspective on life. 

Once I see Chief Mountain, I just sense the anxiety starting to dissolve.

The mountains are so majestic and encompassing . . . they remind me about my place in the world . . . but I feel protected and serene.
Cameron Falls in the middle of Waterton’s Townsite exemplifies the beauty and overwhelming power of nature. 

The road to Red Rock Canyon winds through the hillsides of wildflowers . . . 

only to meet up with a local Mountain Sheep
and culminate at a crossing of the river that runs through the Red Rock Canyon.
The Bridge
We haven’t done much touring around Lethbridge for years so when we have visitors we see all sorts of new sights as well as enjoy showing off some of the features exclusive to ‘The Bridge’.
Yes, of course . . . there is The Bridge.

This is a wonderful shot taken by Chris Oates of The Bridge during the eclipse.

And then there is Fort Whoop-Up. Lethbridge has a replica of Fort Hamilton – a fur trading post -  that was renamed Fort Whoop-Up in honour of the infamous Bug Juice traded with the natives for furs.
It now sits in the Indian Battle Park in the Old Man River Valley that runs through the middle of Lethbridge.

Originally it stood a few miles south of Lethbridge and became a legal trading post and then a North West Mounted Police fort in 1875. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Whoop-Up#History) It does have some colourful history.
A local historical group was the custodian of the Fort until just last year when it was taken over by the museum (Galt Museum) and the City of Lethbridge.
The Native/Arts Program at the University had exhibits there that we went down to see.

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens
The Japanese people have a significant presence in this Southern Alberta community. For the most part, they were relocated here from BC temporarily during the war to get them away from the coast and alleviate fears of their supporting the actions taken by Japan during the Second World War.
As was typical for this region, outside people were considered very useful during the War, but were not particularly welcome to stay after. But stay they did and became integral and respected parts of the communities.

In 1967, the Nikka Yuko Garden was opened as a symbol of Japanese and Canadian friendship.
When our friends from New Mexico (Deb & Jer), arrived, it was just in time to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Gardens. 

 it wasDeb and I did.
ens .lp celebrate the 50th ere not particularly welcome to stay after.
m (Galt Museum) here and the City.Aspen Crossing
We wanted to show Deb & Jer the Blackfoot Crossing (http://www.blackfootcrossing.ca/) so off we went. The Crossing was closed so Aspen Crossing became our destination. One of the few times we have been misled by our GPS. He wanted us to proceed off road – across country – to get to Aspen Crossing. Needless to say – we took the long way around on the paved roads.
Aspen Crossing It’s just past Mossleigh on a secondary road to Calgary
 The name Aspen comes from one of the few tree species that grow naturally in the Southern Alberta prairie area. The term crossing is a natural outcome of Jason’s (the owner) extreme passion for trains.
It has developed a lot since we were there in 2011.
They have acquired more train cars and now offer a number of different train excursions.

And John Diefenbaker’s (an old Canadian Prime Minister) dining car has now expanded into two cars and they now have three caboose-cabins that have been transformed into cabins that sleep up to 6 bodies.

The Museum and Gift Store have also expanded.

 Aspen Crossing is a labour of love that keeps growing and growing and growing.

Bar U Ranch
Many, many, many years ago, my Grandfather was a fur trader along the Fort Benson Trail out of Montana. We know he worked further north in AlbertaEdmonton, Wetaskiwin – and he later ran a Clothing Store in Calgary. I remember my father talking about Pat Burns being a good friend of Grandpa so the Bar U Ranch has a special significance for me.
Pat Burns was an eminent ranching and food processing magnate in Southern Alberta and he purchased the Bar U in 1927.

The Bar U’s development really started after the signing of Treaty 7 between the Government of Canada and the Southern Alberta Native Tribes . . . Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee and Stoney . . . in 1877 and grew existentially until the final cattle drive in 1948.
In the 1890s, the rangeland covered 157,960 acres with 10,410 cattle and 832 horses. The cowboys on the Ranch included the famous African-American Cowboy, John Ware and Harry Longabaugh reputed to be the Sundance Kid.
The Ranch went through many stages and phases in its 125 years . . . the growth of the ranching and the cattle industry; the Percheron (work horses) Breeding Program; training and developing working cowboys; and finally the inauguration of the Ranch as a National Historic Site.
The cattlemen who were involved in the Ranch over the years were influential in preserving the character of ranching on the prairies of the Southern Alberta foothills. They were instrumental in starting the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition and are memorialized by the Big Four Buildings on the Exhibition Grounds.
In 1991 Parks Canada acquires 367 acres comprising the original ranch headquarters to commemorate ranching history in Canada.
Historically, the Bar U was where cowboys learned to be cowboys and still is.
The Visitors’ Centre reminds me of a typical sprawling ranch home and a bronzed statue of a working cowhand watches over the operation. The dedication plaque below the statue reads: “Dedicated to respect the initiative, resourcefulness and persistence of the cowhands of the open ranch era, and to honor the ranchers of those early days.”

And the wagon waits at the gate to take the guests down to the barns, workshops, bunk houses, kitchen and the other dozen or so other out buildings.

 As we travelled towards the working area of the Ranch, young Joe tells us some of the history of the Ranch.
We pass all different types of farm equipment and out buildings.

The wagon drops us off at the Fire Pit where Miriam pours a cup of coffee from the pots hanging over the fire and tells us about the life of the Cowboy on the ranch.

Then we wandered through the buildings . . . bunk houses and kitchen . . . and watched the staff working with the horses. Most of the folks working there seem to be from ranches in and around the area.

Even though the ranch dates back over 125 years, the cowboy spirits still roam here.

1 comment:

Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak said...

Sure looks like some interesting places that you explored. Great photos!

I hope things continue to improved for Fred.