Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whistler's Murder

My third novel in my series is titled Whistler's Murder. It takes place in Whistler, B.C. in the summer and features Elizabeth Oliver and her best friend Sally Matthews.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day Tripping From Edmonton

Day Tripping From Edmonton
Elizabeth Oliver
Author’s Note
The following are three, loop trips from Edmonton. Each of these drives makes a nice one-day outing. However, this article in no way claims to cover all that there is to see and do on these routes and, due to space constraints, not all places along the highways are mentioned. That doesn’t mean however they aren’t worth a visit. The intent of this article is to get you, the reader, out and exploring this part of the province. You may discover the perfect antique or a hidden little park. Bring your own picnic lunch or stop and sample the foods along the way.
Trip 1 Gibbons, St Paul, Andrew Loop
Take Highway 28A out of north east Edmonton and follow it to Gibbons. On the corner of 28A and 50th Avenue in the town is the Emmanuel Anglican Church. The interior, with its U-joint style and large beams, is modelled after the inside of a ship and is unique in Alberta. It was constructed in 1902 and is still in use today.
The Sturgeon River Historical Museum is in Oliver Park on 48th Avenue. McLeans Store has a counter with an antique cash register, shelving full of boxes and cans, books, photographs, desks and an old sewing machine sitting on a hardwood floor. A log building with artifacts from the area and a small home with 1920s furnishings are two of the other buildings on the grounds.
At the opposite end of town is Echo Glen Park. The park is beside the Sturgeon River and there is a hiking/biking trail that will take you along the high banks of the river.
Continue past the park to reach a stop sign on Highway 28. Turn right and head to Redwater.
One of Alberta's major oilfields was discovered near Redwater in 1948. To commemorate the oil industry the town has preserved the Discovery Derrick which was used to drill the first well. The derrick, which at 51.2 metres high is said to be the tallest oil derrick in North America, is in a park on 53rd Street.
Follow 48th Avenue out of town to the junction with Highway 38 where you go right. Turn left at the Victoria Trail sign to head towards Fort Victoria itself. The road is fifty-eight kilometres long and mainly gravel, and although is doesn’t exactly follow the route since some of it has been plowed under, it uses as much of the original trail as possible. The Victoria Trail was part of an overland route from Fort Garry (Winnipeg) to Edmonton dating from the 1820s and called various names such as the Carlton trail, Winnipeg Trail, Fort Pitt and Saskatchewan Trail depending on the section referred to. Victoria Trail is that part between Edmonton and Fort Victoria.
There are signs along the road so don't let the number of twists and turns stop you from taking this enjoyable drive along a trail that natives once walked and, beginning in the 1820s, early settlers travelled in Red River carts. They would probably be surprised at the changes along it: the large, modern homes, the big barns, the rows of metal granaries, the machine sheds with their full line of farming machinery, the open fields of grain, and the animals. The biting smell from the barn yards would certainly be unlike the sweet smell of flowers, trees, and open air to which they were accustomed.
The road winds through farmland and beside farm houses and old buildings. You will come to the original site of the Jack Pine Grove School PSD No. 2051, which operated from 1910 to 1951. Just past that is a cairn for Jack Pine Grove School District No 2051, Eldorena, founded in 1909. The church behind the cairn is the Eldorena Ukrainian Catholic Church built in 1912.
As you continue driving watch for the valley to your right and the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. At one point the road is like a country lane with trees lining it. But it is also narrow and winding with blind corners so keep to your side of the road. At about the half way point you reach Highway 31. It goes to Waskatenau if you wish to get off the gravel road. Proceeding ahead watch for the road to the left that goes to the church and cemetery of the former Lobstick Settlement.
Return to the Victoria Trail and soon you will come to the RCMP Memorial Sculpture. The thick, plate steel statue of an RCMP officer astride a horse sits on a base made of rock. Names like S.B. (Sam) Steele #1, P. Coutts #95, Sub-Inspector S. Gagnon, R.E. Steele #7 are painted on some of the rocks. These are the names and rank or regimental number of the twenty members of the newly founded NWMP who left the main group on July 29, 1874 and headed to Fort Edmonton, passing along this trail in October of that year. The cairn was erected on August 4, 1998.
There are two sharp curves after cairn and then a dangerous curve, with an old house to the left, so proceed with caution. When you reach SH 855, the road to Smoky Lake, continue across and you will be on pavement heading to the Victoria Settlement. Here there are two cemeteries, the Pakan Church constructed in 1906, and the clerk’s quarters built by the Hudson Bay Company in 1864. The quarters is said to be Alberta's oldest structure still on its original foundation. It has been restored and on the inside walls you can see where the Hudson Bay employees carved their initials.
Stroll along the asphalt paths under the spreading branches of the tall maples planted during the early years of the post. If you brought a lunch have a picnic at a table on the large lawn. Or grab your fishing gear and hike down the wide path to the North Saskatchewan River. You can fish from the banks where the fur traders landed their canoes over one hundred years ago.
In Smoky Lake the old CN station, on West Railway Drive, is now a museum. Inside are photographs and posters on the wall, an old telephone and telegraph, the original desk, and the old wood stove.
The town of Smoky Lake was named for the nearby lake which was initially called Smoking Lake by the Cree. In one version of how the lake received it name, the aboriginal people, who stopped by its shores to smoked their pipes during their hunts, called it Smoking Place. In the other story, it was selected because the mist lifting off the lake resembled rising smoke.
Smoky Lake bills itself as the Pumpkin Capital of Alberta. This is because the town holds the Great Pumpkin Fair and Weigh Off on the first Saturday in October. Prizes are given for the largest, the ugliest, and the best looking pumpkin.
Drive into Vilna to see what are claimed to be the world's largest mushrooms in a little park. They are six metres high and are from the Tricholoma family. They are called uspale mushroom which is a traditional mushroom used in Ukrainian cooking in the area. The mushrooms were erected in August, 1993.
Glendon bills itself as the Pyrogy Capital of Alberta. You drive into town on Perogy Drive and in Perogy Park is a giant perogy, said to be the largest in the world. The pyrogy, which is held up by a fork, is over seven metres in height.
The pyrogy was unveiled on August 31, 1991 to coincide with the beginning of the 1992 nation-wide celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. If you want a sample of the Ukrainian fare, visit the Perogy House across from the park.
As you drive into St. Paul watch for unidentified flying objects hovering overhead, waiting for an opportunity to land on the world's first man-made UFO landing pad. The circular platform, with provincial and territorial flags flying overhead, waits patiently for its first UFO landing on the corner of Galaxy Way. It was erected as a centennial project in 1967 and a time capsule inside the pad is to be opened in 2067.
The land beneath the landing pad has been designated international by the town of St. Paul. Climb the steps onto the UFO pad and walk across the pedway to the visitor information building which has been designed to resemble a UFO. Inside you will see an interpretive display complete with photographs of UFOs and crop circles, and write-ups on the different hoaxes that have been pulled. The town operates a UFO hotline with the number to call being 1-888-SEE-UFOS.
As you enter Elk Point, on your right is a statue of Peter Fidler in the Peter Fidler Peace Park. This park was officially dedicated in 1992, Canada's 125th anniversary of confederation, as part of the Peace Parks Across Canada project.
Fidler joined the Hudson Bay Company when he was nineteen and studied surveying. In 1792, he helped build Buckingham House and became its Factor five years later. He then travelled throughout the west constructing other fur trading posts.
As you leave Elk Point follow the signs to Fort George and Buckingham House. At the parking lot you will find an interpretive centre with replicas of voyageurs, buffalo, teepees, and a gift shop. There is also a map showing the layout of the forts. A short interpretive trail takes you to the sites of Fort George, constructed by the North West Company in 1792 and Buckingham House, built later that same year. Both were fur trading and provision posts providing pemmican for the canoe and York boat brigades.
They were situated on a plateau overlooking the North Saskatchewan River and the fur traders had the difficult task of hauling their supplies up the hill from their canoes. The posts did, however, have a beautiful view of the river valley.
Follow the scenic highway to Two Hills and check out their museum on the corner of 51st Street and 52nd Avenue. In Willingdon is the Willingdon Tourist Park with a campground, picnic tables, and a mural on a huge rock. At the end of town is SH 857 which will take you north to the Historical Village and Pioneer Museum at Shandro. A few of the more than twenty buildings to tour are a blacksmith shop, a post office, a funeral home, and a reproduction of a sod house, all of which are furnished appropriately. You will also see the ferry used on the North Saskatchewan River north of the museum before the Shandro Bridge was constructed.
In Andrew is a small park. Besides a caboose, a playground, mini golf, and tennis courts there is a statue of a giant duck. The colourful Mallard duck was chosen as a symbol for the village of Andrew and this replica was erected on April 29, 1992. It is said to be the largest Mallard in the world.
On the corner of Highway 45 and SH831 is the Skaro Shrine. The shrine was designed as a replica of the Grotto of Lourdes in France and constructed in 1919 by local residents. The first pilgrimage was held on August 14, 1919.
And this ends your journey for today.
Trip 2 Radway, Lac La Biche, Athabasca Loop
You can follow the beginning of Trip 1 to Redwater and then carry on Highway 28 to Radway. In this village is an old, red-brick school that now houses the John Paul II Catholic Bible School. People come from across North America to live here for a year learning to pray, to study, to heal, and to incorporate the Bible into their lives. Some have been computer experts, some have been retired. The bible school opened in 1984 and accepts twenty-one students each year. While most students apply for entry themselves, some have been recommended by the Vatican while others have come from Germany, Zambia, Ireland, and Kuwait.
Also in the village is the Krause Milling Company in the tall, white elevator. This elevator has been restored to show the process that is used to mill the grain into flour. In the building next to it is a museum and gift shop.
Stop in at the Waskatenau Creek (Pine Creek) Nature Trail in Waskatenau (pronounced Wa set na) for a pleasant stroll on an asphalt trail. The first section is through trees and then you slowly work your way down until you are beside the creek. There are interpretive signs that tell about the wildlife and plants.
Continue along Highway 28 to Highway 36 and turn north to Lac La Biche. Soon after Highway 36 becomes Highway 55, you cross the Beaver River and come to the Little Divide (Continental Divide) with an elevation of 575 metres. This narrow height of land between Lac La Biche and Beaver Lake separates the Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean drainage systems. The Beaver River drains Beaver Lake, and flows east to the Hudson Bay. La Biche River issues from Lac La Biche and eventually spills into the Arctic Ocean.
You enter Lac La Biche on 100th Street. Turn right on 91st Avenue and Portage College is to your left half way down the block. Here you will find the Native Cultural Arts Museum Collection with native handicrafts showing much of the aboriginal culture.
On Churchill Drive is a statue of David Thompson and two companions as they arrive at Lac La Biche, then known as Red Deers Lake. Thompson explored, surveyed, and mapped most of western Canada. He is the first recorded non-native in the Lac La Biche area and his exploration here led to the building of Red Deers Lake House by the North West Company in 1798.
East of the town is the Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, reached by a man-made causeway. Watch for pelicans as you drive to the park and enjoy a picnic at one of the sandy beaches.
Go west of town on Highway 55 to the Old Mission Road to reach the Lac La Biche Mission on a slight hill overlooking the lake. The original Mission Church and some other buildings were destroyed in a tornado in 1921. The present church was built the next year and contains the alter, which was undamaged, from the first church.
It is about a one hundred kilometre picturesque drive to Athabasca. Just before reaching the town you will pass through Amber Valley, the home of Alberta's first black settlers. In 1910, almost two hundred Afro-Americans were led into the province by Jefferson Davis Edwards and they settled on land in what was then known as the Pine Creek area. They had left Oklahoma and the discrimination against their race for what they hoped was a better life.
Athabasca has many historic buildings dating back to the beginning of the early 1900s, including the Union Hotel and the Canadian National Railway Station, both on 50th Street, and the United Church on the corner of 48th Street and 49th Avenue. At Riverfront Park you can stroll beside the Athabasca River.
Head south out of Athabasca on Highway 2. Turn off the highway at the sign for Perryvale. From Perryvale to Twatinaw you will be driving on part of the historic Athabasca Landing Trail. The Hudson Bay Company developed the trail, at a cost of $4059 in 1877. The trail followed a native path and was really a 161 kilometre portage between Fort Edmonton on the North Saskatchewan River and Athabasca Landing on the Athabasca River.
Legal has a large collection of murals on their downtown buildings that show the contribution of the Francophones to the west. The murals were sponsored by the descendants of the early pioneers who are shown in the murals.
As you travel south towards Morinville look ahead to your left and you will see a tall spire rising above the trees. This is from the St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church of Morinville. Completed in 1907 it has been modified over the years with the brick exterior added in 1929.
In St Albert is the massive, three-storey Grandin House on St. Vidal Avenue. Initially the building, completed in 1887, was to be operated as a Grey Nun's hospital, but the design was unsuitable so it became the official residence of Bishop Vital J. Grandin.
Just past it is Father Lacombe's log chapel, constructed in 1861. It was moved in 1871 and some restoration work was done in 1927 with about forty percent of the original material being replaced. In 1977, the chapel was returned to its original site on this hill above the Sturgeon River.
On the other side of the chapel is St. Albert Parish Church, erected in 1922. Walk behind the church and view the crypt, where the body of Father Lacombe lies in honour. Then take the long, flower-lined path to the grotto, a replica of la Grotto des Apparitions de Lourdes (the Lourdes Grotto) in France.
During the summer, what is called Western Canada's Largest Outdoor Farmer's Market takes place on St. Anne Street. Here you can buy meats, vegetables, fruits, and dessert for your evening meal at home.
Trip 3 Elk Island National Park, Wainwright, Tofield Loop
Watch for wildlife, especially bison, roaming freely as you drive through Elk Island National Park. If you see one take your picture from your vehicle or just sit and admire it. Do not get out and approach the animal and do not feed it.
Besides the animals to see, there are a number of walking or hiking trails, a Ukrainian pioneer home, and a monument to the Plains Buffalo, which provided food, clothing, and weapons for the natives, and meat (pemmican) for the fur traders and explorers.
The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village can be a quick stop on this tour or a full day visit. Each building has its own history, and interpreters, who are dressed in period clothing, will converse with you only about events that took place in that era.
In Mundare is the Basilian Father's Museum where you will see Ukrainian clothing, photographs, stamps, typewriters, books, and a display of Ukrainian liturgical books from the 16 and 17th centuries.
Sts. Peter and Paul Monastery is across the road from the museum. It was built in 1922 and is one of the oldest Basilian Monasteries in Canada. Beside it is The Grotto built in 1934. Steps lead up to alcoves housing statues. Follow the side paths up the back of the hill, which represents Mount Calvary, to different levels and the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Ivy hides much of the walls and colourful flowers adorn flower beds.
Vegreville’s most famous feature, the Pysanka, is at the east end of town in the Vegreville Elks/Kinsmen Community Park. The Pysanka, or giant Easter egg, was erected in 1974 to celebrate the centennial of the R.C.M.P. in Alberta and to commemorate the early Ukrainian pioneers of the area. The egg is suspended over a lovely park, with red rock paths through green grass and a footbridge over the river. The park also has a pond with ducks and swans swimming in it, two gazebos, and a picnic area.
The Vermilion Provincial Park in Vermilion has camping, a wading pool, walking and equestrian trails, and a man-made lake. When a bridge was built over the Vermilion River, part of the river was dammed to form this lake.
On Main Street in Wainwright you will pass the large statue of a buffalo and drive to the Memorial Clock Tower or cenotaph. It was built as a memory to the men who died in the two world wars and stands in the centre of the intersection. The Wainwright Museum, with over fifteen rooms of exhibits, on 1st Avenue in the old railway station. The Wainwright Railway Preservation Society grounds, across the tracks from the museum, has numerous displays about the railway history in the area and the province.
Camp Wainwright is one of Canada's largest forces training facility. During the Second World War, over one thousand German officers were interred at the camp. A reconstructed P.O.W. tower, with artifacts, commemorates that time.
On the highway again, drive to Fabyan and turn left into town. Follow the signs to the viewpoint for the Fabyan, or Battle River, Trestle. The trestle, which is 845 metres long and stands 59 metres above the water, was constructed in 1907-08 for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The first train crossed it on December 15, 1908.
After Fabyan you begin your descent into the Battle River Valley. The river was named Chacutenah by the Cree natives which means `the river that flows through the tremendous valley'.
To see the Viking Ribstones, watch for a historical sign on the left side of the road. After reading the sign go back along the highway to the first right turn and follow the signs to an area surrounded by white posts with red tops. You park here and climb a slight hill to the ribstones and a cairn.
The large, quartzite stones have markings similar to the ribs of a buffalo and they were carved as a monument to Old Man Buffalo, whom the First Nations people believed was the spirit protector of all the buffalo. While on top of the hill, turn in a circle and enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding farmland.
The Viking Museum, founded in 1966, is inside the former hospital on 60th Avenue The hospital was built in 1921, and each room depicts a different time period in the hospital's, and the town's, history.
Holden has the Beaver Regional Arts Centre with a 285 seat capacity on 50th Street. Here a `Chautauqua' similar to the theatrical groups that toured in the early part of the 1900s, a Christmas concert, and a comedy or mystery thriller are each held annually. Besides the professional performers who come to the theatre, the Beaverhill Players, a community theatre group, also puts on many performances.
George's Harness and Saddlery in Ryley is a working museum on 50th Street. As you enter, the smell of leather overwhelms you. Look up and see the tin ceiling brought from an old schoolhouse in Saskatchewan. Walk along the aisles to view the harnesses, bridles, hats, and saddles many of which are antiques.
At the Beaverhill Lake Nature Centre along the highway at Tofield, you can see stuffed birds, look at pictures of birds, read books on birds, and gather information on Beaverhill Lake, one of the best places to see snow geese on their spring migrations. If you are a birdwatcher you can pick up a pamphlet at the centre listing the over 250 recorded bird species that have been sighted on or near the lake.
The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife, and Recreation Area has 150 kilometres of trails for equestrian, hiking, bicycling, snowmobile, and cross-country skiing adventurers. There are a number of staging areas and the trails from each are designated for the different activities. Coyote, elk, moose, deer and more than 200 varieties of birds occupy the reserve along with cattle.
After a hike along the trails you can head home.
The End

The Crowsnest Highway

In my Travelling Detective Series my main character, Elizabeth Oliver, is a travel writer who somehow gets drawn into solving mysteries while visiting various places to research her travel articles. When my first novel titled, Illegally Dead, came out I had many people say they wanted to visit the Crowsnest Highway where the book is set. So I have posted Elizabeth’s article that she wrote up for the travel magazine.

The Crowsnest Highway: Medicine Hat to the Crowsnest Municipality
Rudyard Kipling dubbed Medicine Hat as `the city with all hell for a basement' because of the gas fields discovered beneath it in the early 1880s. By the early 1900s homes, offices, schools and churches were being heated by gas.
The city was named after the Saamis, or Medicine Man's, hat which was lost by the Cree's medicine man during a battle with the Blackfoot. This was considered a bad sign and when the Cree were all killed the site was given the name `Saamis'.
The Saamis Tepee was originally constructed for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. After the Olympics it was bought and moved to Medicine Hat where it overlooks the Seven Persons Creek Coulee. The teepee is 20 storeys or 65.5 metres high and its poles are made of steel with a concrete foundation. There is no buffalo skin or equivalent covering.
Inside the teepee are round storyboards which are paintings depicting stories about the history of the first people, such as the Plains Cree, the Blackfoot Confederacy, the arrival of the non-natives and the Metis.
With the abundance of clay along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River in the Medicine Hat area it was natural that a pottery industry began and grew in the early 1900s. There was natural gas to fire the kilns and a railway to transport the finished products to market. Three potteries, Medalta, Medicine Hat and Alberta, were all operating at the same time. Medicine Hat Potteries later became the Hycroft China, Ltd.
To see the Great Wall of China at the Clay Products Interpretive Centre housed in the old Hycroft China building, turn left onto Southridge Drive when you come out of Seven Persons Creek Coulee. Southridge Drive becomes College Avenue when you cross Highway 1. You reach a four-way stop at Kipling where you go right. Head straight through the lights at Dunsmore and when you come to Allowance Avenue turn left. You cross the railway tracks on an overpass and just after the tracks is Prince Avenue where you again go left. Head one block to North Railway street and bear left once more. You have the railway tracks to your right as you drive and then turn right on Highway 41A east. At Wood Street you turn right and in one block is the Hycroft China Ltd. There are signs to follow to make these directions easier.
You can only see the Great Wall of China by tour. You will see thousands of pottery pieces in various colors and watch a pottery demonstration. Once you've finished your tour, visit the large gift shop which sells all their pottery.
When you get back onto Highway 41A you will see signs for Highway 3W. Follow them out of Medicine Hat. At the west end of the city you will come to Holsom Road and in 20 kilometres from Holsom Road you turn left on SH 887S to go to the Red Rock Natural Area also called Red Rock Coulee.
The road is paved and at kilometre 24.7 from Highway 3 it curves to your left. You continue 1.8 kilometres ahead on the gravel road to the parking area. After walking through the gate, stand and look down at the large masses of stone in the coulee. You will be intrigued by the huge, red or reddish brown rocks that are shaped like gigantic balls with flat tops. These are called concretions and are scattered over a wide field. Many of them have been split by the elements. While they seem to have been randomly thrown in the coulee, they are actually finely layered, red sandstone boulders emerging, through erosion, from the softer ground around them.
They were formed over 74 million years ago in a shallow sea which covered the area. The reddish color is from hydrous iron oxide or rust. They are as small as half a metre and as large as 4 metres.
Just remember as you wander through the rocks that you are in rattlesnake country. And because the soil content is comprised of bentonite (volcanic ash) and clay, which when mixed with water forms gumbo (smectite), if it starts to rain get out of the field as quickly as possible. You could sink in the soil up to 8 centimetres or even slip and fall on the gel-like surface.
Back on Highway 3 you pass by Seven Persons which was established in the 1880s as a siding for a narrow gauge railway used to haul coal from Lethbridge to Dunmore.
Kilometre 35 from SH 887S you reach Bow Island.
As you come into town watch for what is claimed to be the world's largest putter on the right side of the road. It is advertising the Bow Island Golf Club, which is two blocks to your left.
Bow Island bills itself as the `Bean Capital of the West' and just after the putter you will see Pinto McBean, a tall replica of a pinto bean wearing an orange cowboy hat, a holster and gun. Beside him is the visitor information centre where you can pick up a packet containing the various beans that are grown in the area.
The first region in Canada to use the pivotal irrigation system was the Bow Island area. Across the service road from Pinto McBean is a derrick and a write-up explaining about the Bow Island gas field that was discovered in 1906 and served the area, as well as other markets, until 1996.
Kilometre 56.7 from Pinto McBean in Bow Island is the junction with Highway 36 in Taber. Because of the extended hours of sunshine received in the district each year, Taber's motto is the `Land of the Long Sun'. The brilliance and warmth from the sun along with the extensive irrigation systems, allows farmers to produce a number of different crops from beans to beets and potatoes to peas.
You continue on Highway 3 to the set of traffic lights at 50th Street on the west end of town and turn right. In half a block you turn right again and the Taber Irrigation Impact Museum and Taber visitor information centre is immediately to your left. Through changing displays, the museum gives a history of irrigation and how it has transformed the dry prairie land into rich agricultural land which supports communities, businesses and people.
Taber is called the `Corn Capital of Canada' and Taber corn is sold throughout Alberta and parts of the United States from the backs of trucks and the vegetable departments in stores. In the middle of August, the town holds a celebration called, not surprisingly, the Cornfest Hootenany. Check the museum yard for the giant corn stalk.
Kilometre 36 from 50th Street in Taber you reach a set of traffic lights at SH 845 in Coaldale, once the largest settlement of Mennonites in Alberta. The towns bills itself as the `Town That gives a Hoot' and if you wish to see why, turn right onto 845 and in half a kilometre go left onto 16th Avenue. In one block is the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre.
The 185.6 square metre centre is dedicated to captive breeding and the rehabilitation and release of injured raptors such as eagles, hawks, owls and falcons. Inside there are owl displays, bird books for sale and pictures on the wall. Outside is a path around the site, a picnic area, fishing ponds and a playground. Watch where you walk because Canada geese also make this their home. Bring your camera for a close-up of some of the birds, maybe even have your picture taken with one of them perched on a leather gauntlet on your arm.
Some of the events you will want to take in are the flying falcon and eagle demonstrations held every 90 minutes, the feeding of the orphaned babies, and the hawk walk, a trail with hawks sitting on perches beside it. Also at the centre is one of the largest breeding populations of the endangered burrowing owl, the only owl in the world that lives underground.
Heading west on Highway 3 you enter Lethbridge in 11 kilometres. If you are tired from travelling, stressed out from fighting holiday traffic, and hot and sticky from too much sun, a walk in the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens is what you need. To reach them exit south onto Major Magrath Drive, head to 7th Ave S where you go left and then right into the parking area.
The gardens were arranged to bring peace and serenity to those who take a slow and leisurely stroll along their paths. There are no bright flowers just green shrubs and lawn, quietly flowing waters, rock gardens and white sand. The gardens are on 1.6 hectares and have five distinct sections, each one offering a chance to forget the rest of the world for a while.
Designed by the City of Lethbridge and its Japanese residents as a Canadian centennial project they are a symbol of the Canadian-Japanese friendship. A Friendship Bell hangs on the grounds, with an inscription indicating that if you strike the bell, good things will happen in both countries at the same time.
Return one block north along Major Magrath Drive to 6th Avenue and turn left. Continue to Scenic Drive where you go right. At 3rd Avenue you bear left for the Lethbridge visitor information centre. Go downhill past the centre into the coulee containing Indian Battle Park. You can see the High Level Bridge towering over the park as you descend. This bridge, one of North America's largest bridges of its height, was built in 1909 and is over 1.6 kilometres long and 96 metres high. Maybe you'll see a train travel over it during your stay.
The Indian Battle Park marks the site of the last great native fight between the Cree and the Blackfoot Confederacy, made up of the Blackfoot, Blood and Peigan Tribes. In 1870, a group of Cree and Assiniboines attacked a camp of Blood Natives. A band of Peigans came to the rescue and about 200 Cree and Assiniboine died in the clash. Except for a few minor altercations, that was the final native war and a peace was finally declared between the tribes in 1871.
A replica of Fort Whoop-Up, the first of the `Whiskey Forts', complete with Indian teepees and covered wagons, is in Indian Battle Park. Fort Hamilton, as it was originally called, was built by John T. Healy and Alfred B. Hamilton at the junction of the St. Mary and Belly rivers, the location of present day Lethbridge. The first fort burned in 1870 and a second was constructed becoming the most powerful and active one in southern Alberta. It is believed the fort received its nickname from a remark made by one of the men who took the furs back to Fort Benton. He is supposed to have said, when leaving, "Don't let the Indians whoop you up."
The Helen Schuler Coulee Center and Nature Reserve are also in the park. The reserve is situated on 78 hectares and has prairie, coulee and floodplain habitat. You can take a nature walk on self-guided trails through the park, but don't expect to see trimmed green lawn or flower beds. Everything has been left in its natural state, and deer, rabbits, birds, beavers, muskrats and many other animals continue their untamed existence in the park.
Return to Scenic Drive, turn left and drive to Highway 3 where you go left. You cross the St. Mary River and this is where you set your odometer. If you look to your left you will see the railway bridge and the coulee as you leave Lethbridge.
The highway divides through Fort Macleod and you are on a one way. As the highway curves, to your left is the visitor information centre and to the right is the hospital. To see the NWMP cemetery and Jerry Potts' gravesite go to SH 811 North which is Sixth Ave in town and turn right. In one block you turn right onto 26th Street and in another block go left. One more block and its a turn right at the church. You reach gravel and in half a kilometre from there the road curves left beside the cemetery.
Park in front of the cemetery and walk through the gate. Head to the far left corner where you will see a tall, white spire and a white, picket fence. Enter the gate, go to the right and in the second row Jerry Potts' marker is the second from the fence.
Jerry Potts, whose parents were Peigan and Scot, was born in 1840. He was a guide and interpreter and led the NWMP troops under Col. Macleod to the original island site of Fort Macleod. He spent many years acting as a guide for the force and educating them on survival in the west before his death in 1896.
Continue on Highway 3 to the west end of town to see Fort Macleod which is on the right with a parking lot to your left. Fort Macleod was the first post built by the North West Mounted Police in Alberta. It was constructed on an island in the Oldman River in 1874 and was named after the commanding officer. In 1875, a sawmill was put into operation and Alberta's first drug store was opened by John D. Higenbotham in 1884.
The present-day Fort Macleod is a reproduction, but some of the log buildings inside the Fort Museum are original and house numerous historical native and NWMP-RCMP artifacts. Don't miss the Musical Ride staged four times a day during July and August. Young men and women dressed in NWMP uniforms present an exhibition of horsemanship and precision, similar to the world famous Musical Ride.
Some of the men who operated the whiskey forts established legitimate businesses after the arrival of the NWMP. One of them was Harry `Kanouse' Taylor, who set up a hotel in Fort Macleod. Due to the changing times and transient population, there had to be certain rules in his hotel. They were:
1. Guests will be provided with breakfast and dinner,
but must rustle their own lunch.
2. Spiked boots and spurs must be removed at night
before retiring.
3. Dogs are not allowed in bunks, but may sleep
4. Towels are changed weekly; insect powder is for sale
at the bar.
5. Special rates for Gospel Grinders and the gambling
6. The bar will be open day and night. Every known fluid,
except water, for sale. No mixed drinks will be served
except in case of a death in the family. Only
registered guests allowed the privileges of sleeping
on the bar room floor.
7. No kicking regarding the food. Those who do not like
the provender will be put out. When guests find
themselves or their baggage thrown over the fence,
they may consider they have received notice to leave.
8. Baths furnished free down at the river, but bathers
must provide their own soap and towels.
9. Valuables will not be locked in the hotel safe, as
the hotel posesses no such ornament.
10. Guests are expected to rise at 6:00 a.m., as the
sheets are needed for tablecloths.
11. To attract the attention of waiters, shoot through
the door panel. Two shots for ice water, three for
a new deck of cards.
No Jawbone. In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash.
Fort Macleod is southern Alberta's oldest settlement. The downtown district, on 24th Street between Second and Third Avenues, was declared Alberta's first provincial historical site on May 14, 1984. There are many wood frame buildings that date back to 1890s and some brick and sandstone ones from the early 1900s.
You can view the area on guided walking tours or wander around on your own.
The easiest way to get to it is to walk through the archway from the parking lot across from the fort. You will be on 24th Street and the second building on your right is the Empress Theatre. The theatre opened in 1912 and was used for vaudeville acts, minstrel shows, silent films, political rallies and talking films. It has been renovated, but the original pressed metal ceiling, double seats in every second row, and the old radiators remain. The Empress Theatre Society presents movies or live performances during the summer.
To see what is said to be the western Canada's largest mural, walk to the corner of 3rd Avenue and 21st Street. At 2.5 kilometres from leaving Fort Macleod you exit right off Highway 3 onto Highway 2 to go to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. You soon reach the junction of SH 785, also called Spring Point Road, at kilometre 1.4 and turn left. After driving through beautiful flatland and seeing the cliffs of the jump for a ways you reach the parking lot at kilometre 16.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, accepted as a cultural World Heritage Site in 1981, is one of the oldest, largest and most elaborate buffalo jumps in North America. It covers an area of 595 hectares and incorporates a variety of cultural specimens linked to communal buffalo pursuit. The remains are largely undisturbed and have provided scientists with an excellent opportunity to reproduce the evolution of shared buffalo jump hunting from its beginnings 5700 years ago to its demise in the 19th century.
The Head-Smashed-In Interpretive Centre is a multi-level structure built into the cliff. Each level is an artistic reproduction of a different segment of the Indian buffalo hunt. Once you have seen the displays on each floor, ascend the final stairs for a walk along the cliffs of the top of the jump. From here you have a panoramic view of the unspoiled prairie below.
From the walk along the top of the jump, return to the entrance and stroll the paths below the cliffs. Interpretive signs tell how the bodies fell over the cliff and how the wounded ones were killed by waiting braves. The buffalo had to be skinned quickly so they would cool and the meat wouldn't spoil. Because of the layers of bones the jump is much shorter than when it was first employed between 5600 and 5700 years ago.
From the Head-Smashed-In parking lot turn right onto SH 785 for a lovely drive through the brown, green, yellow and gold of the Porcupine Hills where every time you crest a hill a new vista awaits you. Since many animals, including elk, deer, lynx, red squirrel and cougar make the Porcupine Hills their home, you can also expect to see some wildlife.
In 2.4 kilometres you reach gravel and at kilometre 27.9 you turn right at a stop sign. The junction with SH 510 is at kilometre 32.8 and you go left to Heritage Acres Oldman River Antique Equipment and Thrashing Club. To your right as you enter is the caretaker's house. A donation box sits on the fence and the money from it is used only for restoration costs because all the work is done by volunteers.
At Heritage Acres is the Crystal Village which was begun in the early 1970s by Boss Zoeteman. He constructed each of the concrete blocks by placing about a dozen glass telephone insulators inside the square cast iron frame he had made. He then poured the cement over the glass, left it to dry then removed it. Over 200,000 glass telephone insulators and 900 crossarms were used to construct this miniature village. Some of the buildings include a church, school and coal shed. Narrow walkways connect the structures and colorful flowers and shrubs grow in the tiny yards.
Tour the quonsets full of old equipment and see the old steam engines, the sawmill and the elevator before entering the restored 1917 Doukhobor barn (about 300 Doukhobors arrived in the area in 1915) to see carriages and wagons including an 1881 Amish town wagon. Each carriage and wagon has a write up about its history, its use and who restored it.
Back at SH 785, turn left and soon you will see the rocks of the Oldman River Dam along the road. Kilometre 3.7 to your left is a parking area and viewpoint overlooking the spillway and downstream river. Interpretive signs tell the story of the building of the dam.
Kilometre 4.8 from the viewpoint you turn right onto Highway 3. When you reach the junction with Highway 6 at kilometre 3.3 go left to Pincher Creek. Three kilometres later you arrive in Pincher Creek.
Pincher Creek received its name from a pair of pincers (no one knows where the `h' came from), a tool used for trimming horse hooves, found (or depending on the story, lost) on the creek bank by prospectors in the 1860s. In 1876, the NWMP established a horse farm, with 200 horses, in the area. Eight mounties had to patrol from the Porcupine Hills south to the border and west to the Rocky Mountains. When the fort closed in 1881, many officers stayed to cultivate the land.
You keep going south down the hill into town on Hewetson Avenue and at the Frederick Street you turn left. When you get to a stop sign at Bridge Avenue go right and in one long block to your left is the large log building of the Pincher Creek and District Museum. Inside is a gift shop, two galleries with travelling exhibits, a library and archives.
Outside this building is the Kootenai Brown Historical Park where there are a number of historic buildings including a NWMP barn and Kootenai Brown's log cabin built in the late 1800s. If you want to stretch your legs, beside the park is Pincher Creek and paths wander through the trees along the creek bank.
Once back on Highway 3 watch to the left for the line of more than 50 huge wind turbines along Cowley Ridge. In 6.4 kilometre from the turbines you turn left to go to Lundbreck Falls Recreation Area and Lundbreck Falls. You climb a hill and in 1.9 you reach the campsite to your right. There is an upper camping area where you are above the river and a lower one beside the river to chose from. Fishing for whitefish and rainbow, cutthroat and eastern brook trout is popular in the Crowsnest River and paths run on both sides of it. However, one of the best places to fish is from the cliffs to the east of the upper campsite.
To see the falls continue less than a kilometre past the campground and you will cross the bridge and reach a parking area. The Crowsnest River tumbles 12 metres and makes a lovely picture. Another great photo opportunity is the bridge, with its arch support, over the river. Continue to the highway and turn left. Kilometre 7.2 you enter the Crowsnest Pass.
By the beginning of the century, the Crowsnest Pass was one of the largest coal producing regions of Canada. In 1898, the CPR built a line to a settlement called The Springs, later renamed Blairmore, and development began in 1901. It quickly became the center of a coal mining area and men came from Europe to work the mines. Soon towns such as Frank, Coleman and Hillcrest, also called Hillcrest Mines, sprang up.
In one kilometre from entering the pass you will see the stone ruins of Leitch Collieries on the right side of the road. Leitch Collieries, one of the largest mines and the only one completely Canadian owned, was established in 1907. Passburg was built for the miners and their families about 1 kilometre from the mine. But, due to construction problems, worker's strikes, a soft market for coal and not getting contracts, the enterprise was short lived. By 1915 it had ceased operations and Passburg disappeared. You can tour the ruins and read the displays recounting the mining process.
Kilometre 4 from Leitch Colleries you turn right to go to the Bellevue Mine. Just after the turn is an intersection where you go left. You follow this road as it winds through Bellevue and at kilometre 1.3 from the highway the road divides. You go left, then immediately left again and down a hill to the parking lot for the mine.
Inside the interpretive building is a large map showing the mining tunnels and the areas the miners never reached. The mine went about 5.6 kilometres and ended somewhere under Blairmore. In the years between 1903 and 1962 the miners only removed about 25% of the coal reserve. Much of the remaining coal is under water.
Approximately 360 metres of the Bellevue Mine has been retimbered and stabilized. Slip on one of the hard hats and a miner's lamp and take the guided tour of the underground tunnel the miners followed to their jobs. You will see coal seams and a loading chute and when everyone shuts off their lamp you will experience total darkness. It is damp in the mine and the temperature is about 7C so make sure you wear a warm jacket and sturdy shoes.
Return to Highway 3 and turn right. At kilometre 1.9 you turn left to go to the Hillcrest Cemetery. You cross a bridge over the Crowsnest River and at kilometre 1.2 you enter Hillcrest and the road divides. You continue straight ahead and the turn into Hillcrest Cemetery is immediately to your right.
Hillcrest was the site of one of Canada's worst mining disasters. On June 19, 1914 at 9:30AM, a huge explosion rocked the mine and 189 of the 235 workers in the pit were killed. More than 150 of the victims were buried in mass graves at a memorial cemetery in the town. One grave is 61.5 meters long. The mine was soon reopened and worked for another 25 years before closing in 1939. The Hillcrest disaster occured just 11 years after the Frank Slide. To see the graves walk to the back of the cemetery and you will find two areas surrounded by a white picket fence. Most of the markers in them give the date of death as June 19, 1914.
Just after you get back onto Highway 3 you start driving through the rocks of the Frank Slide. During the night of April 29, 1903, a wedge of limestone 646 meters high, 1 kilometre wide, 150 metres thick and weighing 82 million tonnes roared down the side of Turtle Mountain. In about 100 seconds, the rock of the slide sealed the entrance to the coal mine near the bottom of the mountain, barricaded the Crowsnest River, covered the valley with hundreds of feet of rock and continued across the valley to demolish part of the village of Frank. Of the 600 residents of Frank, an estimated 70 were dead although only 12 bodies were recovered.
To understand just how massive the slide was turn off the highway at kilometre 2 and drive to the Frank Slide Interpretive Center. The center sits high above the mass of rock and boulders and is across the valley from Turtle Mountain. Watch the slide presentation of coal mining life and view the coal mining and early settlement exhibits positioned on the four levels. Outside stroll the 1.5 kilometre Frank Slide Trail through the rocks of the slide.
On the highway again you pass Blairmore where a huge reclamation project of the Blairmore coal piles was undertaken in 1987-88 with the removal of approximately 660,000 tonnes of coal slag. At kilometre 6.9 turn left on 85th Street in Coleman and what is claimed to be the world's largest piggy bank is to your left. The bank is TEN TON TOOTS, a compound air locomotive which, between 1904 and 1954, used compressed air to pull its loads of coal in the mines. The money collected in this bank is for community services.
Back on highway 3 in 0.8 kilometres from the piggy bank you turn left into Coleman to visit the Crowsnest Museum. In two blocks you reach 18th Avenue and the museum is to your left.
Inside the museum is a list of the displays, such as the wedding dress section, the wildlife exhibit or the blacksmith shop, that are on each of the two storeys of the old high school built in 1936. In the school yard are covered tables so you can picnic even in the rain. There is also firefighting and mining equipment and farming machinery. Check out the Greenhill Mine rail bending kiln, circa 1930. The rails were split, heated in this kiln then shaped into arches for supports in the mine.
As you drive west on Highway 3 you can look down on Coleman to your left. You cross the Crowsnest River, follow Crowsnest Lake to your right, drive between the two sides of Island Lake and reach the Alberta-BC border at kilometre 12.8.
At the border you are on the 1358 metre summit of the Crowsnest Pass and on the Continental Divide. From here the Crowsnest River flows to the Hudson's Bay while waters on the west side of the divide head to the Pacific Ocean.