A Canadian singer we are so proud of: – Congratulations on your marriage Michael Buble.
This year is the 60th Anniversary of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas‘ movie. Listen to Bing Crosby sing one of the most beautiful Christmas Carol’s.
Calgary is situated in the foothills of the Blue Canadian Rockies, where the snow-capped mountains often look as though they are painted on the sky for an awesome sight when you have your morning coffee. The weather is moderate. Although there is a saying in Calgary ‘If you don’t like the weather – wait 10 minutes and it will change.’
Calgary is situated on the clear, clean waters of the Bow River – which runs out of the glacier fed Lake Louise. It was originally a popular gathering point for the Blackfoot natives. The Bow River was a place where the tree branches were material for bow and arrows. With a chinook that can blow through often, the temperatures could warm and the snow go away at any time, including the winters.Calgary is Canada’s newest city and in my opinion, by far the cleanest city. With the head-offices for oil companies galore, it has the largest population of Americans outside the USA in the world. Most people share optimism and a desire to work and thrive.
A fort was established in 1875 by the North-West Mounted Police and the original founder – Sam Livingstone – was already settled in the area; The fort was called Calgary which is Gaelic for ‘swift waters’.
The settlers of the area were mainly ranchers and often those ‘second-sons’ of aristocrats. The Canadian Pacific Railroad ran through Calgary and created a settlement of what is known as ‘China Town’ now as well as a landmark hotel made of sandstone – The Palliser, which is still in downtown Calgary.
Calgary was a small settlement until oil was discovered in the Turner Valley, Black Diamond area and in the early 1900′s the city started thriving. There has been no looking back. Calgary is a bustling, thriving city where it always seemed to me – about every 10 years, old dirty buildings/areas are torn down and new, clean buildings replace them. Some people don’t appreciate that – but to me Calgarians definitely understand the difference between old junk and real heritage landmarks. There are old buildings that are maintained of course.
It is a transient city and may be a reason people are so friendly. My two sons were born in Calgary but that seems to be a rarity. Most people seem to come to Calgary to work. My romance story One Dance with a Stranger takes place in Calgary. My romance story Alberta Wild Rose takes place in Calgary’s fascinating surrounding area (the Lost Lemon Mine) and the story I am working on now Seraphim will mainly take place in Calgary.
The book – Calgary, Spirit of the West by Hugh A. Dempsey is a great book on the history of Calgary.
Here are a few websites with information on visiting Calgary.
Edmonton became the hub for all of western Canada. It was the ending of the Carlton Trail (the overland route for Metis freighters between the Red River Colony (Winnipeg) and Edmonton. It was also the western hub for York Factory Express (on Lake Superior) for the Hudson Bay Company and Fort Vancouver by the Pacific Ocean.
River lots were the first farming settlements established around Edmonton. Edmonton, became a city in 1904 with a population of 5,000 people.
The site of Lloydminster was originally decided by Isaac M. Barr, and called the Barr Settlement. It was on the present day Saskatchewan, Alberta border. George Lloyd led the expedition to start the colony.
Both men had visions of a good, solid English settlement rather than the many settlements being created by other European countries, mainly German and Ukrainian. Unfortunately the settlement was doomed for failure. Unlike the European immigration who were farmers escaping for religious and political reasons, the English farmers were content and not about to leave their homes in pursuit of the harsh Canadian west. So, consequently most the settlers were from the streets of London, people escaping poverty. There weren’t many farmers. It is said that most had to be taught how to harness a horse and had little idea of what farming involved.
The unrest in the area culminated into the Frog Lake Massacre, where eight people were killed. The Frog Lake Massacre was headed by Big Bear and Wandering Spirit and part of the 1885 Riel Rebellion. Most settlers sold their lands and moved elsewhere.
In my story Paradise on the Horizon, I have my hero and heroine go to the Barr Settlement to escape their pasts – a Russian princess and soldier.
In the south, near the border, in a bleak setting of dry, prairie grasses and high winds, a few men discovered a way to make money. It was a dangerous mission, not for the faint of heart.
Moving north in search of gold, prospectors from Montana realized there are different ways to make money. They set up a fort, a Whiskey Trading Fort, Fort Whoop-up, in the hills of present day Lethbridge, Alberta. But the Blackfoot Nation was a powerful nation who didn’t like settlers on their lands. It was truly ‘No Man’s Land’, and with no one to stop them once they assured the natives they weren’t interested in destroying the land, men from Fort Benton, in Montana, started a lucrative trade with the Blackfoot. In return for furs, the natives were highly encouraged to exchange for booze, many succumbed.
Finally in 1874 Canada’s Eastern Government sent out a group of soldiers to bring law and order. The Northwest Mounted Police (now the RCMP) set up their first fort in Fort MacLeod, a short distance from Fort Whoop up.
In the east, the government watched the lawless west unfold and thought of ways to stop the chaos. Fort Whoop-Up threatened the stability of the western plains, and the growing American presence worried Canada’s government.
For many natives especially, it was too late. By now some avoided Fort Whoop-up, calling it Many Ghosts, for all the natives who perished there. Whiskey and repeating rifles were a dangerous combination. Smallpox and whiskey decimated the population, and the repeating rifles rained death on hundreds of Cree and their allies at the great “Battle of the Belly River,” yards away from Fort Whoop-Up.
I have written a historical in rough called ‘Moonbeam’, about a Metis girl (mixed blood) caught in the trap of troubles plaguing the area at this time. I hope to have it polished and edited soon.
St. Joseph’s Colony is a huge part of Saskatchewan. The settlers were predominantly German. Unlike the east, which is predominantly English and French as settlers, Saskatchewan’s two largest groups of people were the German and the Cree (Natives) in Saskatchewan. St. Joseph’s Colony followed Prime Minister McDonald’s dream of an organized grid of square land plots. Two miles long and one mile wide, then broken into four quarter section plots. The roads, often dirt and sometimes gravel, made for many roads and it was hard to get lost.
If you could build a house (often sod in the southern part), dig a well and cultivate 10 acres, the land became yours. I grew up after the area was settled. Most farmers around now owned at least a section of land. But it was still wild, still isolated. It was my ‘Little House on the Prairie’ upbringing. Fortunately, our house in the northern part of St. Joseph’s Colony, was not a sod home. My grandmother, however, didn’t have my good fortune. With a family of nine kids, she lived and raised her children in a sod hut. When my mother was born, they finally moved into a wooden house. I have seen a sod hut at Heritage Park in Calgary, and I cringe to imagine living in one. I doubt many people could actually do it today.
Life Changing Days, follows my ancestry on my father’s side. It was an eye-opening experience to know the hardships they faced. I will always be proud of my ancestor’s, tough, ambition and determination as they helped create the west we have today. They were only happy to escape the religious persecution and the uprising communist regime taking place in Russia at the time.