Winds from the east: Unplug and explore Central Alberta’s historical magnificence

Red Deer
Photographer
Jeremy Derksen

Winds from the east: Unplug and explore Central Alberta’s historical magnificence

Join ZenSeekers as we go on expedition across the #BoomTownTrail. Learn more on what several communities across this region have in store. You’ll find inspiration and education to explore Alberta via our #BoomTownTrail expedition hub.

Jeremy Derksen

As you head east through Central Alberta, through Red Deer County from Highway 2 to 2A to Highway 21, the towns seem to get progressively smaller and the space in between get wider. No — not wider, that doesn’t quite capture it. Bigger, broader, more open and expansive. I don’t know if there’s a single word that exists to explain the sensation: the feeling of leaving behind the urban buzz of modern life for the solitude of wind blowing through long grass. This is prairie-raised Alberta writer W.O. Mitchell’s territory, out beyond where the sidewalk ends.  

Enjoy the #BoomTownTrail this summer. Plan your trip to Red Deer County...

I’m standing on a prairie plateau falling away before my feet down into the Badlands of Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Below, and as far as the eye can see: no cars, no buildings, no people, no paved roads. No signal. Just peace.

Red Deer
Photographer
Jeremy Derksen

Dry Island Buffalo Jump is the perfect spot to unplug and settle into a central Alberta state of mind. 

I’ve spent the day acclimatizing, in a way. Ascending circular stairs up the round insides of an old water tower turned museum in Delburne, Alberta. Swinging lazily at a golf ball or two at Fawn Meadows Golf and Country Club; swatting at a lazy fly or two down by the river at Trenville Park late in the afternoon. Dipping my feet into the local waters has somehow become part of my rites of travel on each journey into new land.

Somehow, though, my brain and my body only half-agree with each other most of the day. Like I can’t let go of the buzz – the digital, turned on, ever-present availability of everything that becomes the urban norm. Until I reached this spot. 

Red Deer
Photographer
Jeremy Derksen

There's something so peaceful here, where the grasslands meet the badlands

It reminds me of something Ray Reckseidler said back at the Anthony Henday Museum in Delburne earlier that day. The president of the museum society was explaining his own personal passion for the history of the region. “In 1976 we were blessed with triplets,” he told me. “The way the community rallied around us and helped us showed me that this is a very caring community.”

“You know, everyone is looking for a place to call home,” he reflects. “Some people never find [it]. We did.”

Red Deer
Photographer
Jeremy Derksen

Ray Reckseidler found his passion for home and history in this region where a connection to the land is runs through life. 

In some ways, this emphasis on home and family accounts for the unique portrayal of history at the museum. An upstairs room looks like you just walked straight into a out of the 1930s. Marconi radios, steamer trunks, an old four-poster bed and wardrobe decorate the room. Then there’s the one-room schoolhouse with baseball gloves and skates hanging in the entryway as if any moment those schoolkids might run in and grab them off the hooks. 

On the second floor, the inside of the water tower is divided into shops named after the people who once ran them. And my favourite display: a yoke used by a former Delburne student to transport his things to school and back labelled with felt marker in his own words.

There’s a history and a prominent sense of connection to the land here. As I stand on a narrow coulee spine with the Red Deer River snaking through the canyon in the distance, I feel place and time coalesce. I am here. 

Just like Anthony Henday once mapped this route, made notes in his journal, shook the dirt from his shoes and smelled the sage grasses, I am here taking my own survey of this land. Poets and novelists may ask, “who has seen the wind?” Neither you nor I, it’s true. 

But here – you can feel it. 

If You Go

For camping, head to Fawn Meadows Golf and Country Club, or Trenville Park. 

Check out Elnora Brahma-Rama, Aug 10-11, for a taste of local ag culture featuring professional bull riding, wild pony races, wild cow milking and a community dance.

While in the county, visit Blindman Brewing in Lacombe for one of Alberta’s largest craft beer selections, with over 20 taps ranging from classic IPAs and stouts to sours and foeders.

Experience the #BoomTownTrail - learn more about Red Deer County start planning here.

#ExploreAlberta with Travel Alberta who has an entire section of their website dedicated to travelling the #BoomTownTrail.

Make it a road trip - discover seven destinations brimming with unique experiences - start here by visiting ZenSeekers’ #BoomTownTrail expedition page.

Province