Sunday, June 29, 2014

Montana, heading north to Alberta, Canada

Our early summer trip took us to Montana and Canada for two weeks.  We decided to do this as a car trip and didn’t take the truck/trailer since we were going up into the Canadian Rockies.  We started with a long day’s drive to Helena, MT.  We spent a day there to see the state capital, history museum and old governor’s mansion.  From there we headed further north, stopping at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Great Falls, Montana.  This museum is located along the Missouri River where they had to portage around the falls. It’s a very nice center to learn more about their expedition.  From there we headed across the border into Canada.
Our first stop in Canada was in the small village of Stirling, Alberta.  Stirling is one of only three communities designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.  We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast in a repurposed old barn.  My reason for going to this small farming town of 1,100 people is that it is part of my family heritage.  My great-grandfather, William T. Ogden, was sent there in 1899 to help settle the area when they were building irrigation systems patterned after the ones the pioneers had built in the Salt Lake valley.  My grandfather, Sterling Ogden, was the first baby born there, so Sterling has been a family name used several times over the succeeding generations.  William T. built a large southern styled home there that the current owner was gracious enough to show us around.  Unfortunately, the current owners liked the style of the home to make it into a haunted house at Halloween, and it is not very well maintained now.  None of the Ogden family still lives in the town. 
Twenty miles further north is Lethbridge, where we toured Fort Whoop-Up.  This fort was not one for protection, but a trading post where the first nations peoples (that’s what they call native Americans in Canada) traded goods for whiskey and other things.  Because of the lawlessness of the area, the North-West Mounted Police were formed in 1874.  We toured their fort, Fort Macleod, on our way to Calgary.  Also on the way to Calgary we stopped at a World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.  This was a really interesting history lesson about how the First Nations people hunted the buffalo that sustained their lives before the Europeans brought guns and horses.  They had several methods to get the buffalo to stampede right off the edge of a cliff, killing hundreds so they would have fur, meat, bone and other parts they used. 
Calgary is a beautiful big city of over a million people.  We spent a couple days there to see some of the sights.  The first day we went to their Olympic Park.  We rode on a luge ride they have that was lots of fun.  Then we went to their military museums.  It was interesting to see the various wars from a Canadian perspective.  We were even shown around the Air Force exhibits by a World War II vet that had flown in bombing raids over Germany as a 17 year old airman.  The next day we went to the Heritage Park Historical Village.  There is a nice car museum with an especially good collection of vintage gas pumps.  The village is a recreates life in Alberta about 100 years ago.  Next week I’ll write about the rest of our trip. 
Traders post at Fort Whoop-Up (Lethbridge)

My great-grandfather, W. T. Ogden's home in Stirling, Alberta

Country Barn B & B

Ft. MacLeod, original home of the Canadian Mounties

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Chuck on the Skyline Luge

WWII Enigma machine at military museums, Calgary

Gasoline Alley Auto Museum, Calgary Heritage Park