Channels
× Select City
×
×
×
Canada 150, History, Photos, Events

Canada 150: Gleichen, from boom town to ghost town (PHOTOS)

Canada 150, History, Photos, Events

Canada 150: Gleichen, from boom town to ghost town (PHOTOS)

934b8bf0c8e2a9efe392a5c724fd7ec5?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Guest Author Jul 01, 2017 12:55 pm 167

Story by Andrew Farris, Founder and CEO of the On This Spot historical then-and-now photo app.


The On This Spot app offers you a guided tour of historic photo spots in your area and allows you to create your own then-and-now photo mash-ups as you walk around.

Now, in partnership with the Western District Historical Society, we are marking Canada 150 by unveiling a historical walking tour in Gleichen, an hour’s drive east of Calgary.

Celebrate Canada 150 with the On This Spot app by discovering Gleichen’s history and creating your own then and now photos! Share them on Instagram with the #onthisspot hashtag.

Pioneer Store in 1900

Men and children stand outside the Pioneer Store in Gleichen in 1900 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Men and children stand outside the Pioneer Store in Gleichen in 1900 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Men and children stand outside the Pioneer Store that once stood here. It’s interesting to see how they all seem to have all immediately dropped what they were doing to pose for the photographer. They were part of a great flood of people who came to Gleichen after the arrival of the railway in 1883.

Blackfoot people in the 1880s

Two Blackfoot people on horseback in front of Beaupre's Pioneer Store in the 1880s (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Blackfoot people on horseback in front of Beaupre’s Pioneer Store in the 1880s (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Blackfoot people on horseback in front of Beaupre’s Pioneer Store. The Blackfoot were a group of First Nations, including the Siksika, who were moved to a reserve opposite Gleichen.

This store was built the same year the railway arrived and soon became a meeting place for both white people and the Blackfoot people, whose reserve was just on the south side of the railway.

The nomadic Blackfoot people had migrated into this area 250 years before and quickly adopted European horses in their hunt for buffalo.

By the time the railway arrived in the 1880s, the Blackfoot had many horses, and for decades they were seen in the town competing in races or taking part in the Stampede.

However, for the Blackfoot people, European settlement was a tragedy. Many died from disease, their land was parcelled out, and the local buffalo population was decimated.

Horses delivering grain in 1910

Horses delivering grain to an elevator in Gleichen in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Horses delivering grain to an elevator in Gleichen in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

This well-composed shot shows several teams of horses delivering grain to an elevator. In the background a train is chugging into Gleichen, leaving a long trail of smoke into the distance.

The settlers came here for the region’s greatest natural resource: soil. The economy depended first on ranching, and then later on intensive agriculture, and the promise of the soil, along with a planned irrigation scheme, made Gleichen’s farming future look bright.

Royal Bank of Canada in the 1910s

The Royal Bank of Canada in Gleichen in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

The Royal Bank of Canada in Gleichen in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

The well-designed Royal Bank of Canada was a sure sign the town was coming into its own.

Many of the farmers who came to Gleichen often had little money and the banks were absolutely crucial to lending them money to get started and helping them get through bad harvest years.

Gleichen Hotel in 1910

The Gleichen Hotel in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

The Gleichen Hotel in 1910 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

All the patrons of the Gleichen Hotel step outside for a photograph. The hotel became the social heart of Gleichen and went through a variety of owners.

This picture is made all the more striking by the fact that this place, once the busiest place in town, is now an empty lot.

One wonders what the people in the photograph would have made of the town’s changes.

Stampede down Main Street in 1915

Horses being stampeded down Main Street during the Gleichen Stampede in 1915 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Horses being stampeded down Main Street during the Gleichen Stampede in 1915 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

This dramatic shot of horses being stampeded down Main Street, or Crowfoot Street as it was then known, was taken during the Gleichen Stampede.

The Stampede was the year’s biggest event and drew people from all around to see displays of horsemanship and partake in festivities.

Military Parade in 1915

Gleichen's soldiers put on a military parade before heading to war in 1915 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Gleichen’s soldiers put on a military parade before heading to war in 1915 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Gleichen’s soldiers put on a military parade as they prepare to embark on trains and begin the long journey to the trenches in France.

In both world wars, a remarkable number of Gleichen’s men signed up to fight, and a shocking number of them would be killed or wounded. This would drain the town of many of its best and brightest.

When the First World War came in 1914, following closely on the heels of the economic depression, immigration to Gleichen halted.

The many young men who went back left a gaping hole in the community.

Fire at the Gleichen Hotel in 1923

A massive fire tears through the Gleichen Hotel in 1923 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

A massive fire tears through the Gleichen Hotel in 1923 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

A massive fire tears through the Gleichen Hotel. It was only with great luck that more buildings weren’t destroyed, but the hotel, a pharmacy, two banks, two stores and a lawyer’s practice were all consumed.

At a time when the town was already struggling economically, this was a great blow to the town. As you can see, some structures were never rebuilt.

Main Street in 1938

Looking down a rather drab Main Street in Gleichen in 1938 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Looking down a rather drab Main Street in Gleichen in 1938 (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

Looking down a rather drab Main Street in the later years of the ‘Dirty Thirties’, we see the chief culprit behind Gleichen’s fall from prominence: the car.

The increasing popularity of cars from the 1920s onwards drove a number of trends that meant people no longer had reason to come to Gleichen, nor could they find much work here.

 

United Church in the 1920s

The United Church in Gleichen in the 1920s (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

The United Church in Gleichen in the 1920s (Glenbow Museum and Archives/On This Spot)

The United Church has been lovingly restored, one of several heritage projects that are succeeding in reviving the town’s history.


The On This Spot app offers you a guided tour of historic photo spots in your area and allows you to create your own then-and-now photo mash-ups as you walk around.

On This Spot is expanding across Canada and partnering with universities to create coops for history majors who want to help write walking tours for the app.

If you are a history major interested in working with On This Spot, get in touch at [email protected]

To download the app for Android or iPhone, for more info or to contact Andrew, check here:


934b8bf0c8e2a9efe392a5c724fd7ec5?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Guest Author
Guest posts are welcome to Daily Hive. Send in your thoughts: [email protected]

© 2017 Buzz Connected Media Inc.