Go west, life is peaceful there
Go west, lots of open air
Go west, to begin life new
Go west, this is what we’ll do
The Village People, Go West
Danes go West
The Danish Government bought a whole lotta land on the Canadian Prairies and lots of Danes went West. Today we were going to find where some of them landed.
After a full buffet breakfast with some suspect bacon, (odd flavour), we were off. First stop was Airdrie to pick up food and gas then onto Dickson for the Danish Heritage Museum and the Dickson Historical Store.
My kingdom for a Navigator!
From the start, it was clear that map reading is NOT taught in schools. So the first issue of the day was trying to get junior or focus well enough, (read – look up from his phone), to look for signs and exit numbers. It was no small feat. Normally I’m the navigator. But being the driver, I couldn’t be looking at the map and road at the same time.
We headed north and west. It was apparent why the Danes had chosen to settle here. The rolling, green hills, endless sky, flat roads, golden canola fields – I could easily have been in Denmark. (see my postings from last May). We rolled the windows down and listened to the birds singing. It was so peaceful.
We had to detour off the main highway which meant we entered Dickson from the back route, which was much nicer. We headed straight for the museum.
The museum is situated in a small rural area, surrounded by trees. It clearly was a gathering place for the people of the area since we saw several large families picnicking around the grounds.
The old white clapboard farm house is now a museum and a restaurant. We came in and were greeted by an elderly lady welcoming us in Danish. Likely the only person in the area that still speaks Danish! I answered her in Danish and a short, lively conversation ensued.
Jr. and I looked around the small museum and then headed to the restaurant. Naturally we had to have a good, ol’ Danish hot dog. While we were waiting, I decided to grab a coffee, hoping it would be better than the one I had in Calgary. It wasn’t.
It wasn’t but I had the chance to chat with some very nice people over the coffee urn. On the wall were names of various people who volunteered at the museum plus a list of Chartered Members. I remember signing up to be a member of the museum society many years ago. I said to the gentleman that I had been talking to about the museum, “Hey, that’s me. I didn’t even know I was a chartered member!” Well, his estimation of me went up a wee bit. I explained that Knud Elgaard had canvassed every Dane he could think of on the damp coast in order to raise money to build the museum in the wilds of Alberta.
After lunch we took a tour of the well maintained grounds. The first stop was looking at the little mermaid in the small pond. Unlike her counterpart in Copenhagen, this little mermaid will never lose her head, be painted red or yellow or be stolen. Lucky girl.
Then there is the lovely medieval style Danish church. It is very small, barely 12 people can be seated in it but it has been lovingly created with beautiful stain glass windows and a lovely altar area.
When we went in, a group of ill-bred children were busy running about and yelling in the church. Then they proceeded to yank on the bell rope willy nilly. Finally I said, “Hey, that’s not how you do it. If you’re gonna ring the bell, do it properly.” Not that really know but I’ve heard the bell ringer in Burnaby so I showed them my version. Pull, hold, pull, hold. “You have to be able to hear the to and fro clearly,” I said.
They gave it their best try but soon got tired of it and left. Where were their parents?
On the road again
The next stop was the Dickson Store. It literally sits at the crossroads of the town. We checked out the museum/store and then bought an ice cream. Sitting on the bench outside the store, it was good just to be and watch the world go by. It was busier than usual because it was Canada Day and people were out and about.
North – to Fort Saskatchewan
Once again, the Albertan lack of highway signage impeded our progress. We missed the turn off to Fort Saskatchewan because it not only had the wrong exit number but was called something completely different. “What does it say on the map?” I said. “I don’t know. It’s hard to read! It just doesn’t make any sense. This is bullshit!” Junior said. And with that, threw the map on floor. Excellent.
We pulled off the highway and parked at the first gas station/7-ll store. I pulled out my map and laid it on the counter. “Can you tell me how to get to Fort Saskatchewan from here?” I asked the lady behind the counter. “Ah, don’t speak English, don’t know,” she stammered. She called out to the other employees who both shook their heads. How the hell do I land in the ONLY gas station where the employees can’t give directions????
“Does anyone here know the way to Fort Saskatchewan?” I yelled out. “Yeah, no problem,” one man came forward and showed me on my map.
Back in the car, my disgruntled navigator was plugged into his phone again.
After journeying through 2 thunder showers and meandering through Fort Saskatchewan, we made it to our hotel.
We were staying in what I like to call “the town on the other side of the highway”.
Have you noticed that a lot of towns have the ‘old’ part which resembles the neighbourhoods and towns that have grown up over time? Then there’s the other part, the place where stucco places and box warehouses live that usually resides on the other side of a highway from the original settlement. It’s a place of parking lots, no trees and lots of grey.
That’s where we were. Located right next to a HUGE 24 hour Rexall drug store and the discount liquor store
What’s with Alberta Prices!??!
Here’s another thing. What happened to all the cheap booze in Alberta?
After a rather trying ride with my grumpy navigator, I pulled into the Liquor Depot to pick up a cider or something. Much to my shock and horror, the prices were MORE than in BC.
When I hit the counter, I asked, “What’s with the prices? Where is the legendary cheap liquor I’ve heard so much about?” Again, the 2 people behind the counter barely spoke English and they looked at each other without saying anything. “Yeah, those days are looooong gone,” said the young guy behind me.
Damn, missed the boat again.
The Comfort Inn in Fort Saskatchewan is a lovely place. Clean, comfy beds and a brilliant water slide.
Once junior was ensconced in the room, connected with WiFi, I took off to the pool. Luckily there was only a couple of small kids in the pool who left shortly after I got there.
That meant I had the waterslide ALL TO MYSELF. (Happy dance).
Man, was it fun. It was super fast and I just went on it over and over again, squealing like a little kid just before I hit the water.
Eventually another couple came in and the husband joined me on the water slide. Good times.
What Canada Day?
It was about 10 pm, I sat staring out the window onto the grey, sipping a rather dodgy Pinot Grigio, waiting for fireworks to start. I’d seen some explosions somewhere south of where we were and assumed there would be more.
Nope. Happy Canada 150.