Take a scenic ride into the forgotten plains of Alberta, filled with miles upon miles of farmland and little towns. Relax and enjoy the horizon that seemingly goes on for days, while taking in layers and layers of history – forgotten and sealed under cobwebs, rust and golden wheat fields.
Deep in the seldom visited spaces of Alberta’s Special Areas, we shine some light and point out that there is more than farmland, cattle and cold nights. Here’s three unique (and Instagram-worthy) places to explore in Alberta’s Special Areas.
1) Fairacres School near Oyen
Fairacres School was built in 1911 and was named after the local post office, by a Mrs. Cara Nelson. The school was later moved to the Warwick Farm, where it stayed until its closure (due to lack of attendance) in 1944.
Captured in this photo is the old school sitting on the prairie horizon. This farm school is located near Oyen.
Founded about 1925, the now extinct settlement of Naco, Alberta derived its name from a town and former military post on the Arizona – Mexico border. According to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, the word “Naco” means “nopal cactus” in the extinct Ópata language of Sonora in Mexico. Wikipedia also states that “nopal” is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti, commonly referred to as Prickly Pear. The Opuntia polyacantha, or Plains Prickly Pear, is a hardy variety of cactus found in Southern Alberta that thrives in sunny, hot, and dry locations, such as Naco. #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta #specialareas #rolandschool
This little town located 21 km north of Cereal now joins the ghost towns of Alberta list. A town which had a population of seventy people at one time is now home to the prairie wind.
The CNR arrived in this once bustling town in 1925 which brought in the next Alberta Wheat Pool, which was only the second in Alberta at the time. A high school and public school were quickly built, but soon after the residents moved on. The last business closed in 1955, with that the very last resident leaving town in 1963.
In 1926 the C.N. railroad came through Hemaruka, and the following year, Rose Healy started a restaurant, the Kayo Café. Rose remained in Hemaruka, serving meals with the help of her daughter, Frances, until Rose’s passing in December 1935. (Source: Where the prairie meets the hills: Veteran, Loyalist and Hemaruka districts) #Alberta #Canada #history #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
The first large group of homesteaders came to New Brigden in 1909-10 from Brigden, Ontario, Another large group from the United States was joined by homsteaders from western Alberta and other points. According to newbrigden.ca, the community was named in 1912. At a public meeting a migrant from Brigden, Ontario, Frank Tye, proposed that the hamlet, because of the number of former Brigdenites, should be a “new” Brigden, and New Brigden it became. #Alberta #Canada #mybadlands #anglican #church #FABTrip15 @gregfarries
Hemaruka is a ghost town located on Highway 884. A community hall and seven houses are still occupied, but all the other structures have been moved or torn down. Hemaruka is in Special Area #4.
A plaque at Hemaruka reads: “Hemaruka – 1926 First settlers arrived 1909. C.N.R. came in 1926. Town is named after engineers four daughters Helen, Mary, Ruth and Kate. There were 15 businesses. Anglican church and community hall. The post office and last business closed in 1966, a school in 1967, elevators in 1975. Dedicated to the pioneers of this district Hemaruka Community 197.”
Here you will also find a beautiful plaque devoted to a woman and her daughter who opened up a cafe shortly after the arrival of the railway.
Within the forgotten Alberta towns, where history is held deep under dust is a mass amount of history and stories. It’s all about the adventure. Take a rural roadtrip and discover the history and stories of some Alberta’s Special Areas’ forgotten places – and don’t forget to tag your pictures with #TakeARuralRoadtrip or #TravelSpecialAreas.
Header image source: Jonathan Koch (Forgotten Alberta)