A fun Sing-a-long from a distance for everyone:
I apologize for being late to posting as the roll of Covid-19 continues to impact the communities that make up the Royal Line. Our own household has just emerged from some physical and mental health impacts during this time of c-tine (a term I have coined for our current existence).
We have nothing to add, but simply, our family is praying for all the families impacted by the cases and outbreaks in Duchess, Rosemary, Brooks, and Bassano schools and outlying areas. For those impacted by needing to isolate, or having mild to severe cases, we do pray for speedy recoveries, and healthy households that rebound for our community.
For our kids, we remind you of the simple acts of neighbourliness that can be done – wear a mask in public, stay 6 feet (2 metres) a part, wash your hands, and if you are sick (regardless of illness) stay home until symptoms clear. As with all points of history when we need to overcome adversity, we are stronger together.
Become part of modern Countess history!
Yes, you read that right. As we move forward with revitalizing the hub of community building we are seeking aid from neighbours, and neighbours we have yet to have who have a passion for invention.
Have you ever wondered what a caboose transformed into a candy shoppe would be like? It may be an opportunity for leasing and refurbishment for your venture.
Or perhaps a souvenir shoppe or model train and hobby store? A shack of curiosities? or antiques?
Just imagine them in authentic cabin spacing.
Or perhaps you have a kitchen passion, and would love to do event catering and need a space to operate your business, and host events? Yes there is cabin space for that. And events?
We have had weddings, birthday parties, Kids Christmas and New Years’ fun, family reunions and fund raisers to name but a few…oh and rumours…
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CP Rail had pre-fabricated ready to build homes for those who settled the royal line. Our little blue house tells the tale on the longevity of these builds. But it is not the only way you can be a part of community history and creation!
We welcome you to Hamlet Homes 2.0 thanks to Cabin Sales eh! At Countess, Alberta you can purchase your own log cabin kit starting from $10,500.
C’mon down and wander around taking a look at our Hamlet Homes 2.0 that are already stacked (and ready for a retail opportunity).
What’s that? You want to continue the authentic look once your cabin is stacked, or just have a kitchen throwback to a time of great music? We got you covered on that too:
If you are interested contact:
Wayne or Sherry
It is great what neighbours and friends of Countess share with us. This intriguing piece of history is literally out of the Royal Line (the train line that connected Bassano to Empress, and went through Countess, Duchess, Rosemary, Gem and Patricia).
Keep the stories and pictures coming via our submission button!
In the Fall of 2005, a few years after my parents had purchased the historic hamlet of Countess, I began seeking out more information around the history. A touch point at then was CPR to gain more information, and some was furnished by the corporate Historian, which follows:
Before the Great Depression, immigrants and settlers flooded the
Prairies. CPR developed immigration and colonization programs, including
irrigating large portions of southern Alberta, setting up experimental
farms, and building ready-made farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan that
settlers could move right into and start cultivating. CPR also expanded
its hotel and resort chain and its fleet of Pacific Ocean ships. CPR
acquired a fleet of Atlantic Ocean steamships and ferries on both
coasts. CPR doubled its track mileage and double-tracked most of its
western main line. CPR was also locked in deadly competition on the
Prairies with Canada’s two other transcontinental railways – the
Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific – railways that eventually
went bankrupt and were rolled into the huge Canadian National Railways
supported by the public purse until the early 1990s.
CPR embarked on its major mainline double-tracking program on the
Prairies between 1911 and 1914. This is where Countess and its
importance comes into play.
Most double-tracking took place as track twinning, except through
Countess. CPR opted for a “kinder, gentler” route with better grades
west of Swift Current, Sask. The second mainline single track that
served as a double track in western Saskatchewan and eastern Alberta
took a bit of a circle route. It branched off the original mainline
just west of Swift Current at Java, Sask., ran up to Westerham, Sask.,
skirting the Red Deer River into Alberta, at Empress, and back down to
the original mainline just east of Bassano, through Countess. CPR
twinned the first four-and-a-half miles of mainline east of Swift
Current. And then the second track diverged northwest at Java toward
Empress, Alta. The first 33 miles out of Java went into operation on
November 2, 1911. The small gap between Mile 33 and Cabri saw traffic on
June 25, 1912. The section between Cabri and Westerham, Sask., went into
operation on September 29, 1913. In the meantime, construction crews were
busy building northeast off of the CPR mainline at Bassano, Alta.,
through the “regal” communities of Countess, Duchess, Princess and
Majestic toward Empress and the Alta./Sask. border. This whole 126-mile
section was completed before World War I and put into operation, from
west of Countess right through to Empress and eight miles beyond across
the provincial border, on June 12, 1914. There was only a missing
16-mile link left to hook it up at Westerham with the secondary main
line out of Swift Current and Java. This went into operation on November
Empress was the divisional point on this line. East of Empress to Java
(Swift Current) was called the Empress Subdivision. And west of Empress
to Bassano, through Countess, was called the Bassano Subdivision.
But the world changed after World War II. Passenger and small break-bulk
freight traffic went over the road. CPR dieselised its operations in the
1950s to cut operating costs. And CPR’s secondary main line through
Countess toward Empress and the Saskatchewan border became less vital.
CPR abandoned from Leader, Sask., to Empress, Alta., in 1990. And, in
December 1997, CPR closed down the 115.4-mile Empress to Bassano line
through Countess. Only a small stub of this former secondary main line
in Alberta exists today. It juts northeast from near Bassano pointing
toward the former hamlet of Countess and serves as a storage siding.
It was 1957, when a young man named Jim and 3 friends were searching for work, and had bused down from Edmonton to Calgary. In 1957, Jim had just fled the revolution in Hungary the year before and come to Canada at just 20 years old.
Luck struck on April 15, 29157 their first day at the unemployment office, when a gent named Mr. Curb came looking for 2 helpers, one of the 4 replied all of them or none as they wanted to stay together, to which this man took them up on the offer of the 4 workers. Mr. Curb, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormon colloquially) was one of 3 millionaires that own Vee Bar Vee Ranch. Jim would spend 6 months working the ranch. Mr. Curb on the way in would radio ahead to have chicken prepared for the new workers, which filled their bellies now that work had filled their hope. It is also noted the workers would get to know Mr. Curb’s son, Lloyd.
Within a few months of Jim starting his work, the millionaires would sell the 78,000 acre ranch. The 78,000 acres was split in half-half ranch, half farm land for wheat, barley, and corn. The new buyers were Hutterites who would come to see how to run the operation, learning the big diesel combines which Jim describes as massive closed cabin tractors with wheels larger than a man. Most notably draft dodgers from the USA would be hired on to run the combines, and the Hutterites took time to explain the farming practice where the outer ring of wheat would form a protective crust for the interior grows from wind and rain. Jim most notably remembers the kindness and generosity of the Hutterites in running the operation.
Thank you to Andrea Szakos for sharing her Dad, Jim’s memories with us (and hope for many more to be shared), and for the following update:
Medicine Hat News Newspaper Archives
January 26, 1959 Page 10
V Bar V Ranch Sold The sale of one of Alberta’s largest cattle ranches has been reported in Calgary. The ranch is the V Bar V holdings at Ward-low, north of Medicine Hat. Although the transaction has not been confirmed it is understood the ranch was sold to Los Angeles interests for a reported $1,400,000 by Cliff Walker and his partner Sam Hanen, both of Calgary. Hr. Hanen is the owner of the Betty Shoppe’s in Alberta. The V Bar V is one of the largest of the early ranches in southeast Alberta and figured prominently in the news two years ago, when its sale to Alberta Hutterites was forbidden by the provincial government.
As always we are open to sharing your memories, stories and photos about Alberta. Please reach out via our contact page.
Also Remember, like back in 1943 take some time to help your neighbour:
What follows is a poem that incorporated history of the area with creative flair. I would like to encourage the writers, poets and musicians out there to send their historic creative pieces in for publishing. If it is music I ask for a link to a YouTube video we can reference too, otherwise make submissions in word.
Thank you…and now onto the Ballad of Countess:One may catch a glimpse
Of the whisp of spectral light
As she walks down the abandoned ghostly street
In the alien’s glow a nightly
As the cows serenade the gophers
Through a thrumming mooo
Of a hamlet built on capitalist’s spikes
And Royal Line Rail Road pennies
The name bought by the Marquis,
She is the lovely wife of Bassano,
A Countess, whose money CP used to build a town.
From stage coaches
To Calgary Stampedes
To a century later,
Rolling through towns
Granting Children’s wishes
And healing sick kids
Mennonites, Buddhists, Mormons and more
Paid to settle
To farm and build
As the wind cleanses
The spectral soil of sludge
From old gas station tanks
Main Street comes alive
With Guns of the Golden West
A Cock crows
As a gator roars to life
Barn cats purr
As Dogs saunter through Tee Pee’s
And Cabins sprout from the land
One calls through ancient flames given by Prometheus
For the Fire Department of her husband’s name to rescue
As a historic Pumper Truck
Rolls through bringing cheers
From kids of all ages
For on a quiet country night
As you roll by the Caboose
Of the ol’ Royal Line
You can still see her shine
In the night light
Calling for adventure