Part of the on-going project Back To The Land
After a crazy morning of torrential rain (See prior Post with video) I pulled out of Hanna, Alberta at around 6:15am and headed East on Highway 9 towards the Saskatchewan border. With the rain still coming down hard, I made my way into the towns of Stanmore and Chinook that were just within view from the side of the highway, only making brief visits driving at a walking pace up the few streets that make up these small towns. With the rain still coming down and not a single person in sight I decided to keep driving. As soon as I pulled into Cereal, the rain was only spitting, my stomach was growling and given the irony, I decided to enjoy a bowl of cereal in Cereal... get it? cereal in Cereal??... Never mind. Now if you have ever travelled on your own and on a budget, eating out can add up and take a huge chunk out of your food budget (Unless you travel Asia... because all street food is pretty much a $1). So what I like to do is pull the tail gate down on my trusty 97 Taco (Tacoma for the non-Toyota fans) and stock a cooler with eggs, cereal, fruit, nuts, and of course peanut M&M's. I also carry a four gallon water jug and a dual element portable coleman stove that is almost as indestructible as my Taco. This allows me to pull over anywhere my vehicle has access to, make something hot or cold, sit with my feet up, take in a view, and pack up and put more pavement behind me. After breakfast I continued East and as soon as you cross the Alberta and Saskatchewan border, the highway immediately changes from highway 9 into highway 7. The moment you are on the Saskatchewan side of the border there is a town on the right called Alsask. I decided to take a look and see if I could make any headway to possibly get some history about the town from a local or even better, a portrait of a local. As I turned right off HWY 7 down the access road heading south, I immediately noticed and what looked like an abandon compound with rows of industrial style buildings that had been taken right out of the Twilight Zone. I wanted to see the town first before making my way back to this crazy looking compound. Within 500m I made a right down the main street of Alsask and just like every other town I visited, there was not a soul in sight and blinds closed on all the 40 or so houses that made up the town. After 20 minutes of just driving up and down the streets at a snails pace, I came upon an abandon school and decided what the hell it's better to take some photos than no photos.
Once I had snapped a few frames of the school I made my way back to the strange looking compound to see what I could find and possibly figure out what this place was. There were about ten or so structures that ranged in various sizes. Some were long and skinny that looked like barracks or single story dorm apartments joined together, one of the buildings looked like a large workshop from the outside, and another of the largest buildings had a sign on the outside that read "Swimming Pool". I drove around each of the structures and did not see anyone except just a couple derelict cars, a few broken windows, and random debris scattered here and there. After doing a little research about Alsask the name of the town could not be more original as it is a combination of Al-berta and Sask-atchewan, the compound part of the town turns out was used for military purposes and was part of the RCAF. It was opened in 1963 as part of the Pinetree Line of NORAD radar stations. The station was later renamed Canadian Forces Detachment of Alsask when the military branches were merged. The station was disbanded in 1987 and has been taken over by the village. The station property became part of the Rural Municipality of Milton when the village of Alsask was dissolved in 2009.
With no one in sight... again, I continued east on HWY 7 making various stops in Marengo, random dirt roads and farmers fields to photograph a bit of the landscape due to the lack of people I was not able to find. By mid-day I had arrived in Kindersley and decided to fuel up and plan my next course of action at one of the local diners. I will leave it here for now and in the mean time enjoy some of the photo's and video and I promise there are portraits of locals coming... just sit tight, be patient and I promise it will be worth it.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment or drop me a line if you have any questions.
Cheers - Jeremy
One of the abandon schools in Alsask, Saskatchewan.
The road on which the town of Alsask, Saskatchewan lies on (The town is just behind me on my right).
Another abandon structure just off the side of highway 7 on the Alberta, Saskatchewan border.
A couple of railway cars in Alsask, Saskatchewan.
A road that goes through a farmers field just outside of Alsask, Saskatchewan.