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Fall colours in Alberta #9
At the NE corner of Elk Island National Park

The photographs of the Fall colours on this page were taken September 30, 2000, North East of Bruderheim, about 50 miles  NE of Edmonton, and at Elk Island National Park, about 45 miles straight East (Highway 15 and then South on Highway 831) from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

If you wish to locate the places more precisely where the photographs were taken, a set of maps will permit you to do that.

The following two photographs were taken 2002 08 24, to show some of the wild life that can be found at Elk Island National Park.

Bison at Elk Island National Park, Alberta

Moose at Elk Island National Park, Alberta

Kevin's Farm, Alberta#1
Kevin's Farm

Phil's Farm, Alberta#2
Phil's Farm

Kevin's farm, Alberta#3
Kevin's farm seen from the road

The road south, past kevin's and Phil's farms, Alberta#4
Looking South to Phil's farm

Road to the old ferry landing North of Skaro, Alberta#5
The road to the old ferry landing North of Skaro

North Saskatchewan River at old ferry landing North of Skaro, Alberta#6
North Saskatchewan River at old ferry landing North of Skaro

Greek Catholic Church at Skaro, Alberta#7
Greek Catholic Church at Skaro

Looking North from the Greek Catholic Church, Alberta#8
Looking North from the Greek Catholic Church

At the NE corner of Elk Island Park, looking North, Alberta#9
At the NE corner of Elk Island Park, looking North

The structure on the left of the picture, about half-way up, is the grain elevator at Star, North of Lamont, about 7.5 miles from where the photograph was taken

The Weather Rock#10
The Weather Rock

Looking NE from the NE Corner of Elk Island Park, Alberta#11
Looking NE from the NE Corner of Elk Island Park

Pond at Elk Island Park, Alberta#12
Pond at Elk Island Park

Ukrainian pioneer home, constructed by volunteers, Elk Island Park, Alberta#13

Legend at Ukrainian pioneer home, Elk Island Park, Alberta#14

Munument to the memory of Ukrainian pioneers, Elsk Island Park, Alberta#15

Astotin Lake in Elk Island Park, Alberta#16
Astotin Lake at Elk Island Park

Astotin Lake in Elk Island Park, Alberta#17
Astotin Lake

Astotin Lake in Elk Island Park, Alberta#18
Astotin Lake

Higher resolution files of individual photographs can be made available if required. 

October Sunset (taken at home, 2000 10 12), North of Bruderheim, Alberta
October Sunset (taken at home, 2000 10 12)
Low resolution animation (109 kB) 
Higher resolution animation (945 kB)
(The animation is comprised of 23 still photographs taken in succession at about four-minute intervals)

 

Until towards the end of the nineteenth century all of Alberta was wilderness, such as that which is being attempted to be preserved in Elk Island Park.  For many thousands of years every Fall the country-side around here was coloured in various shades of yellow and golden by the growths of Aspen, Black Poplar and Birch that covered all of the area in the vicinity for literally thousands of miles, unbroken by the expansion of grain fields, pastures, towns and cities that took the place of much of the wild forests.

The only passable roads were rivers like the North Saskatchewan River, along which the fur traders travelled for centuries, until Canada's railroad got constructed and the area around here was opened up by settlers.

Roads were built — many thousands of miles of roads, some of which became upgraded into highways.  Railroad spur lines were built, and every township (an area six by six miles) had a grain elevator at which railroad cars could be loaded with grain and with cattle produced by the farmers who settled here. 
   Usually towns sprang up around the grain elevators.  Some did well and kept evolving into large prosperous centres of industry and commerce, such as Calgary and Edmonton.  Others stagnated and even shrank.  Some became ghost towns over time — a process that is inexorably proceeding even today, as farming is increasingly becoming more mechanized and less profitable.  Fewer and fewer people remain on the land. 

Children of farm families find it a hopeless enterprise to take over the farm operations that often as many or more than three generations of families created.  These children of farm families are still migrating to the cities, perhaps just on weekends to visit their parents who remain on the land, if those can afford to do that as long as they haven't been forced to sell out.

The roads that the children of farm families travel when they make their visits back home still exist, so far.  They criss-cross the arable country-side in a checker board pattern, one mile by two miles to each rectangle.

The grain elevators that were located every six miles are being shut down, and the railroad lines serving them are being removed.  Grain is still being produced and is now being hauled by large trucks to the few large grain elevators (such as that at Star) that replace the many smaller around which so many rural communities had sprung up and to which farmers formerly hauled their grain.

The road beds of the highways are slowly deteriorating due to the increased traffic that moved from the railroad system to the highways, and we don't have enough money to keep our roads in good shape anymore — because only an insignificant fraction (about 5 percent) of what is being collected for that through gasoline and fuel taxes is actually being applied for the maintenance and improvement of our road network.  About one hundredth of the money that is being reinvested in road construction is being spent on maintaining the road network of federal highways west of the Ontario-Quebec boundary.  Ninety-nine percent of it is being spent east of Ontario. (1)

No more leisurely trips by horse and wagon into town to deliver grain to the elevators, to pay bills, to have a cup of coffee or glass of beer with the neighbours, and to pick up a few needed groceries for the families.  Far fewer people now do the work that was done by many times their number, and those still doing that work have little time left for leisure.

The small towns are dying.

The schools, of which there were a few within each township within walking distance for the children, have now been replaced by a system of transporting children to a few centralized schools, with perhaps only a single high school remaining in each county.  Many children must now leave the house before 7 am to be ready for the school bus when it comes to pick them up.

Just as the little one- to four-room schools disappeared from the country-side, so family homes appear to follow them into oblivion.  Forty years ago virtually every quarter section of land around our neighbourhood was occupied by a family. 
   Today our closest two neighbours are located one mile away from our farm.  Within a two mile radius from our farm now no more than eight families are still present, and along a stretch of eight miles of highway into Bruderheim, now no more than five family homes can be seen when driving into town. 
   Have a look at the small red dots still shown on many quarter sections of land depicted on the associated maps.  Each of them identifies a family home that was occupied when the map got updated just two years ago (1998).  Many of them have since been vacated, and many more will be as the farmers living there die.  The average age of Canadian farmers is now more than 62 years.

However, think about this and never forget!  ALL of what made our way of life possible, the early explorations, the fur trading, the railroad construction, the construction of the country roads that criss-cross the land, the breaking of the land, the growing of crops, the construction of houses, fences, railroad system, schools, grain elevators, towns, network of power lines and the telecommunications network, the digging of wells and the construction of the water lines that in many areas now make local wells unnecessary, the installation of natural gas delivery system, and the boring of natural gas and oil wells for the production of natural gas and oil — 

all of that was and is still being done by MEN.


If you are interested in what is happening to our families, and if you worry about your and your children's future, or if you are a parent who has been expelled from the lives of his children and you feel powerless to do anything about it, then please visit also the Website of Fathers for Life.

_____________________

  1. Source: Gas Tax Honesty Day Report; Canadian Taxpayer Federation

Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice, at home, NE of Bruderheim, Alberta
We call it Sunny Alberta, but we don't tell people much about what kind of sunshine it is, not that during the winter the hours of sunshine are quite short.
It was -27.4°C in the morning when the Sun rose at 08:50 hrs.
It warmed up to about -20.8°C during the day, while I took photographs at about half hour intervals.  When the Sun set at 16:00 hrs, the temperature had gone down already to -24°C.

And no, I wasn't outside while I took the pictures.  It was nice and cozy inside.  The photographs for the composite picture were taken 2000 12 23.

Three years ago on Christmas Eve the temperature went up to about +12°C during the day, and the bees at our neighbour's place were making a cleaning flight.  That year we had no snow until until New Year's Eve.


Fathers for Life -- logo

Button -- Kids need both Parents, not Visitors

Posted October 2, 2000 —
Updates:
2000 10 13, to add photo and animation of sunset.
2000 12 24, to add composite picture of winter solstice
2001 06 18, to correct some of the links to graphic files
2002 08 26, to add photos of bison and of moose.
2004 01 16 (added comment about gas taxes)