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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 18, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta _ Tutidoy, July II, THE LETHIDIDCI HEKALD _ Mtirgtirel Luckhurst Claresho m puts its old station to use WITH Ihc roduclbn ot pas- ecngcr train service across Canada a great num- ber ot the familiar old barn- red railways stations became redundant. Some were sold and hauled away to be utilized as homes, hunting lodges or sum- mer cottages. Others less elab- orate and substantial were bought by farmers for storage bins. The town of Claresholm had t fine railway station which served the public well for more than sixty years. A portion of the solid structure was part of the original CPR depot in Cal- gary. When a newer, larger de- pot was necessary to meet the needs of the rapid.'y growing city the depot was pulled down. A section of It formed the lias's of flic Claresholm de- pot while another section went to Hiyh River to serve the same purpose. The Claresholm station is more solid and per- manent appearing than most others of tliat genre because it is constructed of stone, hauled from a quarry in. the Pincher Creek area. Viewing Hie old building from the outside it doesn't take a very active imagination to picture the thousands of scenes enacted in and around that sta- tion. In 1910, when it was com- pleted, homesteaders were still flocking in, many understand- ably apprehensive. Would this move to a strange new land prove rewarding, or would it turn out to he a misdirected waste of years: During the First World War, volunteers bade their sad fare- wells to anxious relatives as they boarded the train on the first leg of a long journey to battlefields thousands of miles away. In the Second World War the station was even busier with wartime activity generated by the proximity of one of the largest Commonwealth Air Training schools. But following the war, air and auto travel became in- creasingly popular and cut se- verely into railway passenger transportation. Service was re- duced on many uneconomical lines and the demise of the squat serviceable stations was inevitable. Claresholm and surrounding district has many enterprising residents who were loathe to sec their station (so replete with memories) reduced to the indignity of a storage bin or some such inglorious end, and it was decided to do something about it. It was agreed that decorated and altered as need- ed, it would make an ideal mu- seum which could reflect the early history of the town, its people and environs. When these plans were put before the CPR, officials were only too happy to co-operate. An agreement was made whereby the station would be rented to the town for a year, and the company ilself undertook to restore the tele- graph and ticket office. People of the town and district re- sponded enthusiastically to the call for early Canadiana and other artifacts and in July 19C8, after much hard work on the part of the museum's direc- tors, a committee, and interest- ed volunteers the old station was open to the public once more as a museum. The vast area of rolling plains around Claresholm had, at one time, served as a hunt- ing ground for roving Indian bands and fur traders. After the arrival ot the RCMP and the subsequent influx of set- tlers in 1874-75, much of the land became open ranching country. But this loo was modi- fied in 1M1 when 0. J. Amund- sen, a Norwegian from Devil's Lake, N.D., filed on a home- stead on lard dose lo the site of the town today. He saw the potential the rich land offered and purchased still more land from the CPH and had it sur- veyed into lots. Southern Alberta was devel- oping rapidly in the early 1900s as land was cheap and settlers anxious to take advantage of the boom. A large colony of set- tlers whom Mr. Amundsen had interested in the area, arrived from Devil's Lake and quickly bought up land also. These people were expe- rienced farmers with genera- lions of agriculture behind them and were just what the country needed. In short order much of the rolling plains were turned into fields of grain. It's a proud fact of the farmers of that area that more bushels of wheat were shipped from Claresholm than any other sta- tion in Alberta during the years 1905-1910. The community was also famous fcr its prime beef cattle. Cowboys would drive their fattened cattle into the tiny village to be sliipped to markets all over the world. When this event took place the village was transformed into a veritable stampede, with cow- boys, cattle and horses raising clouds of dust. Settle m e n t s, regardless their size, soon call for the ne- cessity of routine services. Hardly had the homesteaders got themselves oriented when within a year or two, a lumber yard, post office, hardware store, grocery store, drug store, and two hotels were erected to form the nucleus around which the community of farmers and ranchers revolved. A little schoolhouse, big enough for the 25 pupils who would attend, was built in 1902 on the east side of the tracks. This was an important build- ing in the town for on Sundays church services were held there until congregations got themselves organized to build their own churches. The school now is situated beside the sta- tion as part of the museum's exhibits. In 1905 the village was large enough to be incorporated as a town. It was named Clares- holm, after Clare Nibblock, wife of the then CPR superin- tendent for southern Alberta. Mrs. Nibblock's home in Med- icine Hat was named "Clare's Home" and the name appealed to the small village along the line who adopted it. Last year after driving through this pleasant town many times always glancing at the museum with we finally made a point of stop- ping and paying a visit. We in- tend to go back many limes, for there is too much to see at once. We were fortunate in that we were given a guided lour by Iwo pioneer Claresholm res- idents who are also members ol the museum's board of di- rectors, Carl Smedslad and Fred Seymour. There are more than articles displayed in the ram- bling rooms of the old station. To greet the visitors as Ihey en- ler are Indian mannequins in traditional dress, plus a section of interesting Indian artifacts. There are countless items re- lating to Uie prairie life of the cowboy, housewife, rancher, and farmer. There are con- tributions from the Hulterian Drethern including a strange looking object which we -were told, is a noodle making ma- chine. Of special interest are items brought by the Norwegian set- tlers when they arrived at the turn of the century. One such object, a food container, goes back to the time of the Vi- kings, eight or nine hundred years ago. There is a furnished bed- room with a rope-bed brought from England in 1850 and alongside it an infant's cradle. Both articles are in mint con- dition and enough to make an antique collector drool with envy. In the kitchen there are all Ihc "inconvenient" con- veniences the housewives of. decades ago hnd to put up wilh, finch us an old wood burning slovc, a water pump and an assortment of hard to identify kitchen utensils. All other rooms have special features which are echoes from the pasl, of a lime less hurried hut still fraught wilh problems of fron- tier life. The ticket counter, the old railway timetables, and an- cient telegraphic equipment. Ml ,1 sllonl story nf days long pone by. Tlow innny pcoplp. bought Ihclr Mckcis (n somo- w h e r at the ticket, window? How many telegrams happy and and were received by the telegraphist at all hours of Ihe dny and night? How worn arc the old oak benches in Ihc wall- inp room whore passeiiRcrs pn- llently walled for Ihe Irnin lo come puffing in Ihrnuith the night] Outside the museum and in front of the old schoolhouse is an ancient school bus; the first school bus in Canada, and it still runs! A model T Ford built to order in 1919, it carted kids from outlying ranches and farms to the schools in Clares- holm. Its spindly little wheels and narrow seats didn't prom- ise a comfortable ride, but it must have beaten walking. In the old schoolhouse are pictures of the first classes. If everyone can identify himself or herself they are fortunate for the hairdo's and caps almost hide the features o[ some of Ihe scholars. On the. old desks are some ot the texts kids used in the long-ago, and the observation was made that the stories in readers of then were much more interesting and exciting than some of the puerile stuff the kids have to put up witli today. Many small Canadian towns which once showed promise particularly those whose econ. omy centred largely around railway have shrunk and be- come ghost towns. Not Clares- holm. It grows slowly, but it grows. Tlie industrious town council is constantly on the lookout for more business and industry which will expand the and enrich the commu- nity. A couple of hours in the mu- seum awakens one's awareness of the life in tile early west. Later, cross the street and have a cup of lea and for just a little while you will be able to catch the energetic spirit of Claresholm. Books in brief "Canada and the United Slates: The Civil War Years" liy Robin W. Winks (Harvest House Ltd., 432 pages, (1.50 'jpIIIS detailed account of tin civil war years in Ihe Uni- ted Stales and its effects on Canada is a revised paperback edition of a hardcover book- published in I960. H chronicles the strains lhat Icil lo a bloody upheaval that pitied the established southern landowners against the rising northern industrial class in the Unilcd Stales. Of interest here arc the effects the conflict has had on American Canadian re- lations and on Iho polllical and social fabric of this country. Oilier books by Yalo Univer- sity professor Winks Include: British Imperialism, Recent Trends nnd New Literature in Canadian History, The Cold From Ynlla lo Cuba, The ARC of Imperialism nnd The Hlnoks in Canada. GREG McINTYBE Carnage in the Phillipines By Jine Huckvale troops sent to halt Christian- Moslem warring" shouts the headline In the International Herald Tribune. Most readers would pul the ilcm aside with the thought that it is just another indication of endemic unrest in Southeast Asia, where pocket wars are part of the way of life. But it brought back memories to me of an encounter during a short sea voyage we took last spring, a little cargo ship sail- ing south from Manila to Cebu City. For two days we chugged slowly southwards In the serene waters, mesmerized with the warm, damp air and the beauty of the lush jungle-clad islands in Ihc distance. Narrow white beaches ringed with gently waving coco palms edge the dark green islands rising sharply from the water. Sometimes we could see a collection of stilt-houses nestled together on the shore, ar.d through the binoculars watch the vil- lagers go about their daily tasks in the casual way of those to whom work is incidental lo Jife, which is for the enjoy- ment thereof. Pocket paradises, the islands looked from a distance like the kind of re- mole tropical hideaways, one sees adver- tised in travel brochures but seldom really sees. Sitting there on the sunwashed deck of the sturdy little ship we let the lovely world drift by. A fellow passenger intro- duced himself. As there were no others who could speak English, and he felt sure we were unable lo make ourselves under- stood in either Tagllog or Ihe Cebu dialed, he thought we might be "a might lonely." He told us that he was a Roman Cath- olic priest who had come to the Phillip- pines from his native Ireland more than 20 years before lo minister lo the Roman Catholic communities on the islands. He was on his way back to his village after a trip lo Manila where he had sought gov- ernment prelection for his people who were under constant attack from Moslem guer- rilla binds. Hundreds of Christians he said had simply disappeared. Others had been kidnapped, then relumed lo their commu- nities minus their hands a favorite form of reprisal. We shuddered, only half believing his story. Afler all he was an Irishman. Bolh sides, he claimed, had weapons, hut the Moslems seemed lo be better equip- ped than the Christians whom he admit- ted were by no means Innocent of sion. There were machine guns, rifles, am- munition, even a lank or Iwo, he didn't know how many. My husband a skeptic by nalure and by training, asked the ob- vious question. Where did they get tit weapons? The priest smiled wryly. "0 h, that's he said. "They buy used military equipment from the Philippine army." We knew that the Philippine government has an unenviable reputation for bureaucratic corruption, but selling government owned surplus weapons lo both sides in 8 con- flicl in one's own country topped all ru- mors of dirty deals in high places. Our skepticism was unwarranted. The priest's apprehension was founded in solid fact, and what was a few months ago, a minor conflict, threatens now to escalate into full-scale civil war. The slow moving Philippine administration can no longer ig- nore the serious nature of the escalating hostilities, which have taken on political overtones threatening the Marcos govern- ment. Troops, backed by helicopters and a naval blocking force, have moved into Zamboanga del Sur province in the south- ern tip of the archipelago where the worst of the fighting is currently going on. The provincial governor himself had to be res- cued by helicopter Ihe other day. Fish- ing villages are constantly under attack by Moslem marauders and the Christian militants, the Ilagas (Rats) are retaliating fiercely. International complications are possible. The Libyan prime minister, Col. Moamer Qadafi, a Moslem fanatic who has an enor- mous lot of money and a minuscule tense of responsibility, has promised aid to what he calls the persecuted Moslem minority of the Philippines. His envoys are, of were, a few days ago louring Zamboanga province. As for our Irish friend who knows? We can only hope that he has not falleu prey lo a Moslem lhat he is still alive, teaching, counselling and ad- ministering spiritually lo his beleaguered flock. The help be sought for so long has come