Monday 28th May
Today has enough information and photos to deserve its own post.
The head cold which gave notice of arriving two days ago attached itself to me with lots of venom and took over my life. I ignored the early warning signs but it was no use. Donnis and Joan dosed me up with preventatives and symptom easing lotions, potions, vaporub and Panadol.
The day dawned sunny but not warm until about 10am.
Along with Joan, Andrea and her two boys Miles and Evan, we went to Heritage Park Historical Village.
The park is built on part of what is known as the Glenmore Reservoir, water supply for the city of Calgary. The reservoir is built on the Elbow River which drains snow melt from the Rockies some 60 Klms to the west. The park is a 127 acre prime real estate on a peninsular of land. It has 180 different exhibits including an Amusement Park for younger children.
First up I should mention that the train ride which travels around the peninsular was closed. No reasons were given.
Next the steam driven paddle wheeler was not operating. For this we were given an explanation. The reservoir dam wall further downriver is being extended so the water level has been lowered to allow work to proceed…for the next three years. Basically the area the paddle wheeler operates is not much more than a few sandy waterholes.
Also closed off is an area of wonderful statues of native animals. Although they can be seen through the wire fence it is not suitable for photos . My other disappointment is the three levels of early car exhibits is confined to only two floors and much of those two floors are about early 1900’s cars plus hundreds of old fuel bowsers. There was a third floor with signs encouraging people to go to the top level to see the display. We did. The floor was empty. The rest of what we saw was fascinating but regrettably we ran out of time.
The theme of the park is the changing Calgary/Prairie life encountered since the day of the Blackfoot Tribes amongst others.
The theme follows through with life in the early days of colonisation, settlement and urban life up until the early 1950’s.
Early settlers often referred to as sodbusters made simple dwellings from sod. They were usually dark and smelly but were cheap and relatively easy and quick to make and required few tools or even skills.
Lined with canvas painted with whitewash they provided a one room dirt floor basic habitation with room for a bed, a table, chairs, a wood burning stove for meals and were reasonably dry and warm. Root cellars were usually a separate underground bunker style larder held upright with rough sawn timber and without windows all of which was covered with dirt and grass. All the winter staples, such as potatoes, pumpkins, beans, beetroot, apples and whatever grain was available were stored underground where it remained cool all year round. Just to see these dwellings gave an idea of the absolute hardships people endured. Usually the sod huts were considered a temporary dwelling to get the family through a season or two until something more substantial could be built.
Log cabins and slab huts were also featured. Slab huts were rough sawn timber with any gaps (and there were usually lots of gaps) were filled with a mixture of mud and whitewash. Often these were used as a barn.
Miles enjoyed his time at the Amusement Park going for a ride something which spun a car around while going around. He also enjoyed being on the smallest ferris wheel all by himself.
Looking around the park the staff paid and volunteers were all dressed in period costume from the late 1800’s through to about 1950. Even the staff at the Hotel Wainwright where we had lunch were all dressed in period costume.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved around the park giving little talks pointing out sights of interest and generally adding colour and photo opportunities.
Horse and hay wagon rides were popular today especially as the paddle wheeler and the train were not operating. Most people, like us, had gone to the park expecting a train and boat ride.
All the old houses from the turn of the century, that is from 1899 to 1901 were set up with period furniture and staff in period costume were there to explain certain features. One farmhouse had a cake and bread making demonstration using only the equipment available at that time including baking in a wood fired oven. (it shows how old I am, growing up in Balmain we had a wood fired stove which was mainly used in winter as it heated the entire house. The stove was called an Early Kooka. )