Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Heritage Park – Calgary Alberta, Canada (#2)

Continuing with our tour of Calgary Alberta’s Heritage Park Historic Village, this is Part 2 of 4 in total.  In addition, there will be multiple blogs about the automobile/transportation museum which is located right at the entrance to the park.  There was so much to see and do at this major historical tourist attraction!

This is a partial view of the 1880s Pre-railway Settlement at the park.  The Canadian Mountie Post is to the left and Drew’s Saloon is to the right.  Note the gentlemen in period dress sitting outside the tavern. 
Henry "Boston" Drew was a well-educated ex-U.S. army officer who first came to Canada in 1884 on a cattle drive from Idaho.  He decided to settle in Alberta, and built a saloon, called the Drew Reserve, on his property at Spitzee Crossing in 1886. (This is now the town of High River)
The saloon wasn’t licensed at first but that didn't deter patrons from stopping by for a drink.  In 1891, Drew added four second-story guest rooms to his saloon, turning it into an inn for weary travelers who needed a drink and some rest.  Drew later changed the name of his stopping-house to the High River Hotel.  It passed through several hands over the next 100 years before the Town of High River gave the building to the Heritage Park as a gift in 1977.

This is the former Berry Creek North West Mounted Police Barracks or, as they call it ‘encampment’.  It was built in 1905 about 90 miles east of Calgary.  There was a serious problem with horse rustling…and many thought that some of the thefts had been the work of Montana’s Hole-in-the-Wall gang.
Heavily armed bands of outlaws used to sweep up from the coulees of the Missouri River to make periodic raids upon lonely Alberta ranches.  Then they would drive the stolen livestock back across the border. The Mounted Police of the Berry Creek detachment made regular patrols of the surrounding countryside to prevent these thefts.  In just a few years, horse and cattle rustling in the region was greatly reduced and the Berry Creek detachment was disbanded in 1915.

Laurie and I like the animals as much as anything… In addition to trolley and steam train rides, free horse drawn wagon tours are available to visitors in the park. 

Laurie and I really liked the fact that all of the work vehicles we saw in the park…as well as their park employees…were in character.  There were trucks and wagons in use that had been built new but which looked old.  It really helped to keep you focused on the time periods that the park strives to project.

This bucolic scene shows a late 1800s, early 1900s ranch/agricultural scene in central Alberta.  It looks so natural that you might think that Laurie had photographed it along the road during our travels…

This is the Burnside Ranch House.  It was built in 1904 by Ewan Donald MacKay.  He established his ranch or mixed use farm in 1887.  ‘Ranches’ in this part of Alberta tended to be relatively small family operated ventures that planted grain and raised livestock.  Among his other operations, MacKay raised and sold registered Clydesdale horses. 
This house, which was located near Cochrane Alberta, was known for its lively parties during the early part of the 20th century.  When naming his ranch, Mackay resorted to his Scottish roots.  ‘Burnside’ in Gallic means ‘beside the creek.’  Subsequent owners donated the home to Heritage Park in 1964.

A lady acting as a living history character was on the porch of the Burnside ranch house hooking a chair cover.  Throughout the park, employees either played a part in the life of whatever time period they were representing, or they served as docents explaining the exhibits.
Hooked rugs represent a fond memory for me as both my grandmother and my mother both hooked classic rugs at one point in their lives.  We have 2 very nice hooked rugs from my grandmother that are at least 70 years old and one from my mother that is between 62 and 65 years old.

This docent or re-enactor was hard at work in the kitchen of the Burnside house…baking bread and rolls.

This is a ‘Soddy’ or sod shack.    It’s estimated that between 1900 and 1910, over one million sod houses were in use on the Prairies of North America.  Upon their arrival on the Prairies, many settlers discovered that there weren’t enough large trees in the area for them to build a log cabin.
They turned to the only building material abundant on the prairie, sod. Heritage Park drew on the expertise of many people in erecting its own sod shack in 1971.  An elderly carpenter who had grown up in a sod house in Saskatchewan was instrumental in this reconstruction.  His memories of the many finer points of building with sod, such as attaching factory cotton to the walls using small saplings, helped build the most authentic sod house possible.  I can't imagine living with dirt floors and a roof that gets soggy and drips whenever a hard rain takes place!

This is just one of the many working draft horses on display and/or in use at Heritage Park.  Did I mention that my editor/wife loves horses!  This is a Belgian Draft Horse.

This barn was built in 1927 for the P. Burns and Company Bow Valley Ranch in Calgary.  Its owner, Patrick Burns, was one of the celebrated ‘Big Four’ who first invested in American Guy Weadick's Calgary Stampede in 1912.  Over the years, Burns bought thousands of acres of rangeland throughout Western Canada.  P. Burns Ranches Ltd. of Calgary donated the barn to Heritage Park in 1977.  The Burns' Barn currently serves as the home for the Talisman Heritage Education Centre and it’s also used for the Park's summer camps and educational programs.  It truly is a gorgeous barn!
If you aren’t aware of it, the Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary.  The ten-day event, which bills itself as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", attracts one million + visitors each year.  Activities include one of the world's largest rodeos, a parade, a midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations/Native North American exhibitions.  For more information on The Stampede, go to

Here are a couple more of Laurie’s friends…  The one on the right did like the attention…but the one on the left…not so much!

Yes indeed!  What would an historical park be without some representation of riverboat transportation…so critical in those early days.  This is the S.S. Moyie.  In those areas of British Columbia and Alberta that could not easily be reached by road or rail, steamships served as the primary form of transportation.  They could move large quantities of freight and/or passengers.  With their shallow draft and paddles that could function in a few inches of water, paddle wheelers could travel in shallow rivers and access settlements that didn’t have docks.  
The original S.S. Moyie, built in 1898, was intended to ferry miners to the Klondike gold rush.  Instead, the Canadian Pacific Railway put her to use on Kootenay Lake to ferry passengers from its rail terminal at Kootenay Landing to Nelson, B.C.   She was named Moyie after a prosperous mining community in the region.  That town got its name from the French word for wet, mouillé.
The S.S. Moyie was North America's oldest sternwheeler that was still in service when she was retired in 1957.  The original ship is still on display in Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada.  Check her out at  In 1965, Heritage Park commissioned the building of a half-size replica of the S.S. Moyie, which uses a diesel engine.

The cruise was not one of the high points of our visit to Heritage Park Historical Village.  But…it was a welcome break for our feet following about a third of our stroll through the Park!  The S.S. Moyie cruises the shores of the ‘smallish’ Glenmore Reservoir.  At one point, the ship turns around to head back to its dock and, as it turns, there is a good view of downtown Calgary. 

This postcard gives you a better view of the city of Calgary.  With a population of roughly 1,250,000, Calgary is the largest city in Alberta.  As you can see, a river passes through the city.   Widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta, including on the Calgary’s Bow and Elbow rivers, forced the evacuation of over 75,000 city residents on June 21, 2013.  The floods were barely mentioned on US News broadcasts.  Large areas of the city, including downtown, were left without power.  The Calgary Stampede was to open on July 5 and their show grounds and stadium were underwater.  Adopting the phrase, “Come hell or high water”, the city, the organizers and volunteers made it happen!  The 2013 stampede did go on as planned. 
To learn more about Calgary Alberta, you can go to or
 Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to take a look at Part 2 of our blogs about Calgary’s terrific Heritage Park!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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