February 22, 2017
1912: An early shot of Strathmore's main street. On the right is the King Edward Hotel, centerpiece of the town's social life, while hardware stores, stables, banks and churches further up the street served the farmers in the surrounding area. At Strathmore's incorporation as a town in 1911 the population stood at 520. After that initial burst of growth the town's size and shape were set down. It would change remarkably little for over 50 years.
This is an introductory paragraph that will very briefly outline Strathmore's history and discuss the app project. It will also contain thanks fo the Western District Historical Society, Town of Strathmore and Travelodge.
1907: Newly arrived settlers set out from the colonization office on the left, to scout out the land and pick a site for their homesteads. The life that awaited these bold pioneers was one of endless work, brutal climate conditions, and crushing loneliness. Bruce Klaiber is the grandson of German immigrants to Strathmore. His grandfather, he recalls, told him a saying about the pioneer life: "The first generation dies. The second generation works, and the third generation lives well."
1925: A member of the Blackfoot Nation on horseback during the Strathmore Stampede parade. The Blackfoot suffered terribly from the arrival of white settlers. In Strathmore First Nations people were not a particularly common sight, though some did come to work as ranchers, on the irrigation projects or on farms. Others, like the man in this photo, came to perform in the Strathmore Stampede, aweing the settlers with bravura performances of horsemanship and dancing.
1920s: Ray Buker and Margaret Keeler, winners of the best dressed cowboy and cowgirl in the Strathmore Stampede, take part in the Stampede Parade down Main Street, past the Union Bank. The brick-built Bank, prefabricated in British Columbia and shipped to Strathmore by rail, is the only prominent commercial building to survive from Strathmore's early days.
1910s: The Anglican Church which was completed a few years before the war.
1940s: The King Edward Hotel.
1914: A shot of Main Street around the outbreak of the First World War. We can see that it has largely taken shape by this date. It would be decades before the street was paved, something only really made necessary by the rising popularity of cars.
1911: On this spot was once the tiny office of the Strathmore Standard, the newspaper that kept its finger on the pulse of the young community. Standing on the right is John Mackenzie, a Scotsman who was to remain the paper's editor through those exciting pioneer years. The Standard, like newspapers in towns across the prairies, played a hugely important role in fostering a sense of pride and community amongst the farmers and the townspeople, and in bringing them news of the outside world.
1912: A panorama view of Strathmore taken from the west, around Westmount School's playing field. While none of the buildings match up, the streets actually do, proving that this is quite an accurate re-creation of the original photographer's perspective. This shot is revealing in that at this early point much of the town has yet to be filled in. The Catholic Church at centre no longer stands, and neither does the United Church with the square tower just to the left of it. However the steeple at far left belongs to the Anglican Church, which does remain.
1958: A pretty shot of Kinsmen Lake at dusk, showing the big blue elevator that matched the colour of the sky.
1920s: The Demonstration Farm's distinctive barn that once stood across this pond. The Demonstration Farm was a CPR-sponsored institution that played an important role in Strathmore's development. Staffed with agricultural scientists, the farm's mission was to provide a whole range of services to the hard-pressed local farmers for free or at the lowest possible price.
1910s: The barns, greenhouses and offices of the demonstration farm.
1910s: Labourers pick potatoes on the demonstration farm.
1913: Part of the Western Irrigation District's compound. Here is the farm and water tower. Today much of the area has been turned into a strip mall.
1910: The demonstration farm's buildings are reflected in the glass-calm pond's surface.
1920s: Another view of the Demonstration Farm, this time with the huge lettering on the barn's roof visible to passengers on passing trains who stopped by to take on fresh supplies for their cross Canada journeys. The CPR was shattered by the depression of the 1930s, and like the irrigation district couldn't afford to continue running the demonstration farm. It was sold off in 1944. Battered by the rising popularity of the automobile, eventually the railway through Strathmore itself was shut down. While the railway, the irrigation district, and the demonstration farm were so crucial to Strathmore's development, except for the barn you see (built after this historic photo was taken) and the irrigation system, there is no obvious evidence the CPR was ever in this town.
1910s: A man demonstrates irrigating a field. Behind him we can see the irrigation headquarters and the public school. Irrigating a field by hand was back-breaking work, and a skill that was taught to the enthusiastic new farmers by the CPR's agriculture experts.
1914: Though the landscape has been completely reshaped, this is - within a few metres - where the original photographer was standing when they took this photo of a work crew stating out from the irrigation headquarters.
1940s: Bruce Klaiber on horseback outside his home. The Klaiber family, who took over the demonstration farm, lived in the caretakers house that once stood on this spot.
1926: On the cenotaph are inscribed the names of 35 of Strathmore's sons who never returned from the war. Behind it is a German field gun that was one of thousands captured at the end of the war and hauled back to Canada to be put on display in every corner of the country. Most of them were melted down during World War II to make new weapons. After that war another plaque was added to the bottom with the names of those who died in the Second World War.
1925: The final unveiling of the cenotaph in 1925. Strathmore is remarkable because every single eligible man who lived in the town enlisted in the military almost right away, the only place in Canada where this happened.
1932: Behind the telephone exchange we can see that a hail storm has taken a shocking toll, knocking down a number of telephone poles here, in addition to many other buildings. The Memorial Hall is visible in both photographs and this photo was taken from the property of the Berry family.
1925: The Alberta Goverment Telephone office before the sloped roof was added.
1936: A woman plays with her dog after a massive dump of snow outside of the Superior Meat butcher.
1920s: The Berry family posing for a photo on their tennis court which once stood on this spot. You can see the bank building in the background that still stands today. At centre are Ada and George Berry and their daughter Gladys. Their son Hugh is on the horse, and Gladys' husband Harold Morgan is at far left. This photo was probably taken after the war, as George and Ada's eldest son Herbert isn't present. The letters between Herbert and his mother as he was away at the front have been preserved and allow us to follow the story of this family through the war. They feature prominently in the "Strathmore at War" walking tour within the app.
1910s: The Crown Lumber Company, affiliated with the Strathmore Trading Company and providing Strathmore with most of its building supplies.
1940s: Hughes Motors was one of the many iterations of car dealerships on this block. See how the roof of the building at right shows us we have the correct spot.
1910: Another look up Main Street from pioneer times. Strathmore's dramatic growth over the last 40 years has reshaped the town again. For decades Strathmore remained a town of much less than 1,000, centered on the railway station and serving the surrounding farmers. Today over 13,000 people call this place home, mostly in rapidly expanding suburbs. The centre of gravity has moved from 2nd Avenue to the strip malls lining the Trans-Canada Highway, while most of the city's residents drive to Calgary every day to work. Amidst all the surging growth, it can be easy to miss the few remaining signs of the small farming community that this place once was.