Sunday, 3 March 2013

HARITAGE PARK CALGARY CANADA.


 

As the bus neared the Heritage Park I was struck by the sight of a fleet of yellow buses there. My driver (I was the sole occupant of the bus ) told me that it was the patroller’s day .7000 School Safety  Patrollers who keep  others safe , were to be thanked in an appreciation ceremony powered by the Alberta Motor Association and The Calgary Police Force .My heart lifted as I am fond of moving in a crowd of happy yelling laughing humans particularly at the tourists sites especially when I am on my own ,as the excitement is catchy.

Suddenly I felt at home . I made my way to the ticket counter and  since it was already afternoon I thought I’d forgo the ticket for the rides . I was pleasantly surprised when the young lady  at the ticket counter stamped me for the rides .The usherer the lady at the ticket counter and other staff there seemed to be out of the book of‘Little Women ’the Megs..the Jos …the Beths… the Amys…seemed to be all over the place giving a feminine delicate  dramatic  touch to the scene ‘How the West Was Once’ They went about their office  with  flouncing skirts and full sleeved blouses.  I discovered the entire staff there were  suitably dressed in historic costumes looking dignified in their attire. Patiently with happy interested expressions  answering the queries of the visitors .

The park is located in 127 acres of land on the banks of Glenmore Reservoir along Calgary’s South Western edge .

The Park is divided into 4 distinct areas reflecting different time periods in Western Canada’s history.

1.The Hudson Bay Company’s Fur trading fort-1864 .

2.Pre Railway Settlement Village 1880

3.The Railway Prairie Town  1910.

4. Newly opened Heritage Town Square depicting 1930’s and 1950’s.

At the entrance is the Gasoline  Alley Museum .It is any vintage  car lovers delight. It houses one of the best collections of restored antique vehicles ,also gas pumps .Here the kids can take a road test and can get their own drivers liscence!The children were crowded round the place .I made a beeline to the steam train that circles the  village  on one mile of track. For the ticket I flashed my stamp to the conductor looking smart in his uniform , dutifully ushered me into the coach .I took my seat near the window ,I settled down comfortably excited to see the entire historical village in locomotion! The guard blew the whistle and we were cautioned to sit firmly and thus started the noisy train. It stopped at the stipulated stations Midanpore Station where I boarded the train, Shepard Station and Laggan Station where some  passengers alighted and some boarded the train. I sat on and watched the fun! the excitement of my co passengers . While circling the village I saw the shimmering expanse of the reservoir with the picture perfect Paddlewheeler.The windmill .Saw the horses in their stable , the wigwam, marked on my map as Aboriginal Encampment..Also saw the Shont’s Grain Elevator ..a true prairie icon of 1909 their size and numbers signified a districts productivity and influence. We crossed the Burnside Ranch House ,a ranch house was the centre of Western hospitality ,offering a lifestyle of simple comforts devoid of pretense.

Had I not been short of time I would have taken another ride .Deboarded the train , happily waved to no one in particular and stood in the queue for boarding the S.S.MOYIE Paddle wheeler .At the Boat Dock  the paddle wheeler was untied by a  lady.

I was told that  it is a steamship which was  included in the Canadian Pacific Railway transportation network . The paddle wheeler  is environment friendly .The hydraulic motor uses a water soluble glycol fluid. It was double Decker full of children racing up and down the wooden staircase. I cautioned a few for the fear that they might fall off. I finally stood at the bow on the deck   where I witnessed a hilarious scene . A boy coaxed a friend of his to strike the famous Rose pose from the Titanic and as he spread his hands he tickled him and both went down on the floor rocking with laughter believe me it was so infectious. I saw a lot of greenery I consulted my guide leaflet and found it was 1860’s fur trading area . There was a lively bustle of people  around that place. For 200 years Western Canada’s economy was based on bartering furs for factory goods. I knew I could not see it for want of time and energy both. It was a bright sunny day and it seemed there were a billion stars in the reservoir, each little wavelet reflecting the sun. The sunshine wind and laughter all lifted my heart.  Downstairs there was a parlor like room with old black and white photographs .

I decided against a ride on the Ferris wheel since there was a long wait with a lot of eager kids .

Off I went to experience  the Village of 1910. It was so absorbing that time just flew! I walked down and saw a few homes to the folks of the bygone era . Mostly they were double storied .On the ground floor there were kitchen, dinning area, bathroom ,parlor ,upstairs were the bedrooms with a children’s room which was done up with dolls houses and some had a dolls tea party laid out it was so cute! One room was a seamstress room where beautifully home stitched dresses were out on display on the hangers .The houses were neat clean, aesthetically decorated .Most of them had framed pictures  In every house was a ‘Little Woman ‘ they  looked so authentic that one got a feel of actually meeting the lady of the house of the  bygone era!

I saw a never ending stream of kids going in and coming out from this particular building when I got close I found out it was the Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour.where they made ice cream the old fashioned way .

I went into the post office and telephone exchange office, Saw how the old fashioned switch board operates. Here  stamps, post office ,pens and gifts were for sale.

I entered theFletts  Blacksmith shop , there were numerous horse shoes stacked .I asked the duo there were so many horseshoes for Luck one smiled and said yes. And then he got busy with his envil,hammer and fire the three of the important tools of any blacksmith. He told me that there were woman blacksmiths too .Because most businesses  were family run, therefore everyone in the family helped with the workload..Whether they ran a farm, printing press or a blacksmith’s forge ..

There was  a board saying  no one allowed below 16 years of age .Curious I walked in .There were 5,6 snooker tables in the room . The attendant there explained that they were the original tables from the bygone era ,just a precautionary measure against anyone ruining them. .It was the Baron’s Snooker Parlour 1910. Imagine the shopname  on the entrance I missed and an innocuous looking cardboard placard caught my eye!

Next I entered the The Standard Newspaper Office that houses a fully operational printing press. As I entered the gentleman there explained the working, its importance ,told me about the importance of weekly newspapers while strengthening the bonds of community ,linked the small western towns to the world. Then he went on to print a newspaper , which I took as a souvenir for 25cents .

I went to the Alberta Bakery and sampled their famed  butter tarts, based on the  1900 recipe !At the Nightingale Colony House  at around 3 p.m there was a crowd to watch Butter Making the old fashioned way.  

The rectory had a small library ,a parlour.

The church was next door a young lady was standing and  sweeping it with a broom .She  posed for a picture also she told me that religion was a cornerstone of pioneer life and most settlers were happy to contribute money or labour to build their first church…St.Martin’s Church.

Lovely music was emanating from the Canmore Opera House.1898.I did not go inside.

Wing Chong Laundry was a well organized one . Pretty interesting.!

Also visited the Cottage Hospital with Doctor and nurses there.

In the Weedon School met the school master who taught all subjects .

At the police station the officer modeled his uniform  his gun baton and all for my video.. I found it so cute! He showed me the lock up too.

At about 4 p.m I sat on a bench to make a call to my brother to continue our onward journey to Edmonton …the capital of Alberta. Good humouredly and full of concern a couple  greeted me saying it sure is a hard day with managing the young students .They mistook me for a teacher . I gave a friendly nod !

On my way out went into  the synagogue  of the 1916.

At around 5 p.m.closing time the students were rounded up sort of marched in lines along with the teachers to their respective buses. I waited at the Heritage Town square where  my brother was waiting .We went into the gifts and shopping centre picked up some curios  .After filming a few videos we were on our way to the capital …I had so much to share …he caught on the excitement and declared that next time he visits Calgary he would experience the historical village himself!

 

 

 

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