There’s still time today to take in some of the festivities, and I hear the Farmer Olympics are in progress (as of 4 p.m.), but here are some sights and sounds from the Parade through the early afternoon, enjoy!
An annual reminder, of amazing work being done in the world, to ensure no goes hungry:
Thank you Rosemary, Aberta for another fun family event!
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.
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.
Say What? Dollars and rumbles? Are these the Saloon Doors that would take Marshall Dillon to Miss Kitty (for those who unfortunately do not know the great Gunsmoke, listen to to Toby Keith’s Should’ve Been a Cowboy). Nope, these doors though took one to the action…Wrasslin’ and bowlin’ that is.
They are the saloon doors to Frank Sisson’s Silver Dollar Action Centre (now the Century Casino) which was once part of the landscape in Calgary, AB. As a kid, I knew of it, due to bowling and, like I said, wrasslin’ (the kind of Stampede, not WWE). Stampede Wrestling had just been bought out but the local 2&7 television station still had a Saturday afternoon contract open for a show, and Mr. Sisson was a fan…enter Canadian Wrestling Alliance which ran out of the Silver Dollar in 1990 on Friday Nights live (it concluded it’s run in 2013 through other venues), with the edited show on Saturday’ at 1 p.m. Later in the 1990’s the saloon would be open to all ages during WWF (now WWE) pay-per-view events.
But what does this have to do with the Royal Line History and Countess, AB in particular you may ask?
The answer is simple, it all started at a Bassano rodeo…with a won Silver Dollar…
(On July 27, 2019 a wind storm wiped out our storage huts for the Countess Country Museum, we are still unsure how many of the artifacts were lost).
Living in the County of Newell and on the Royal Line, one thing you get used to is the wind. What you do not expect upon returning from a day-cation is that you have entered the MGM wonderful Wizard of Oz and be Aunty Em’s farm. This is what the reality of Wayne and Sherry’s return from Maple Creek, SK to Countess Country Museum.
The Prairie History start-up was blown away by the wind. Any Albertan can share that this summer has been a cycle of heat-severe thunderstorms- tornado warnings…to windstorms. On July 27, 2019 the weather had the heat of 30 degrees, and thunderstorm warnings rolled through Southern Alberta. But a picture is worth a thousand words:
At this point we are unsure of the damage as we attempt to get the carriage and stage coach free, but there is damage.
For more information or to help, please contact Wayne (403-701-0775) or Sherry (403-701-0778) as we rebuild and renew the history of the Royal Line, with all the bumps, hiccups, and challenges of the prairie pioneers along the way.
The 152nd Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day) was a blast. The Chronicle family was on the road of the Royal Line down to the Village of Rosemary for the annual festivities. This year saw the fun of the bubble people on water, pickle ball, air brush tattoos, food trucks, the 30th Rosemary School Reunion, Gem MB Youth fundraising, bungee seat, Beach Volley Ball Tournament, Mobile Escape Room (sorry need to catch our breath)…. oh and it kicked off with a pancake breakfast, a Parade (10 a.m.)-where you will note first responders from Patricia, Duchess and Rosemary— with many vintage and fancy cars in the Show & Shine along main street that followed, oh and a pop-up market of vendors.
Whew! Poppa and Grandma met us from Countess for a picnic in the midst of the fun. This evening there will be fireworks at dusk if you are in the area!
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words…so I leave you with a photo montage of a great day!