This was a beautiful ride, passing through 3 or 4 beautiful valleys but mostly about a particular house we visited on the ride! There are quite a few old homesteads along this route as well as some beautiful deep valleys where we stopped, got off our bikes & wondered if we were truly in Edmonton or some hidden valley in the foothills or the mountains!! We rode along at our casual pace on the lookout for a homestead here an old barn there on what I remember was a beautiful sunny day! We visited numerous homesteads and took pictures of what interested us there. As we meandered our way along the range roads, we eventually approached a main road but just before this road was a very old house sitting majestically but alone in the middle of a field, relatively untouched & complete. We turned around & rode in the yard. I dismounted my bike & slowly walked up to the front door. As I entered the "bootroom" I saw 2 or 3 pairs of overalls hanging on hooks with mud still clinging to them. I was immediately filled with a feeling of nostalgia as I wondered who had last worn these coveralls & how many years ago they were hung up for the last time. The old house was a mess inside but you could still see signs of habitation... an odd shoe here, a shirt there. The 2 woodstoves were still there as well as the paper on the walls, attached there to keep out the cold priarie winds. I could imagine Christmases spent in this home with the children coming in from playing out in the snow & warming up beside one of the woodstoves the smells of dinner cooking, relatives talking amongst themselves..... I wonder what their topics of conversation were back then? I open a door to one of the bedrooms and wonder who was last to go into that room, to touch that doorknob?
I pulled out my camera & started taking pictures of the different rooms and I remember being in the livingroom, taking a picture of the woodstove & as I did, the screen on my camera showed a little white spot on the picture. I went back to the picture and sure enough something had struck the negative? I'm not sure what it was & don't like to speculate but I wonder if a family member from the past was once again welcoming someone into their home, maybe this had been a child playing in the snow at Christmas time those many years before, who lived their life and are long since passed away? I left this home with a melancholly feeling but a good feeling, after all, these people who homesteaded in these little 3 room houses are our ansestors and deserve to be remembered.
So a few months after our visit to this little house, I took Michael on this Valley Ride and with great anticipation, I couldn't wait to show him this special little house! We all stopped at the intersection of the main road and I thought we were on the wrong road. It was then that I saw the house had been demolished and when I looked back, I saw a small pile of rubble and my heart sank. This little house that had withstood over 100 years of wind, weather & storms was uncerimoniously reduced to rubble.!
This is why we ride to and photograph these special places because we do not know if they'll be there the next time we visit! I suppose the Ghosts of the past move on when these places are taken down but I'll always remember my wonderful visit with this little home & I'll look at our vast collection of pictures when I get Homesick!! There's a song by the Strawbs which I was listening to the other night & the lyrics just fit this little home. This is the first verse of the song: The old house stands deserted Crumbling and decaying It's broken windows watching As a young child wanders in amongst the roses overgrown and falling the garden once was cared for life is like the garden.
I consider myself fortunate to have a like minded friend to share these rides with and look forward to documenting more vanishing homesteads with him next season. Hopefully the homesteads we visit next season will not suffer the same fate as this Tragic House did!!! James. ------------------------------------ Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Eerie track I go by a poor old farmhouse with it's shingles broken and black. I suppose I've passed it a hundred times but I always stop for a minute, And look at the house the tragic house, the house with nobody in it. Joyce Kilmer