The Burmis Tree: The Most Photographed Tree in Alberta?

At the end of April when travelling in southern Alberta on business I had time to visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (to read about my visit, click here). While driving to Frank I turned through a bend in the road to suddenly find myself in front of a snow-capped mountain framed by a beautiful rainbow! The shutter-bug in me could not resist the temptation. With camera in hand I trundled out of my vehicle to take some photos. But wait, this blog post is not about mountain views and rainbows…

Upon turning my back on the rainbow to return to my vehicle, I discovered another beautiful site – the Burmis Tree! The Burmis Tree is a limber pine that marks the eastern edge of the Crowsnest Pass. Limber trees have one of the longest life spans of any tree in Alberta and are known for their ability to thrive in harsh conditions. As a standing testament to these facts, the Burmis Tree lived for approximately 700 years. It died in the late 1970’s but remained standing until 1998 when high winds toppled it over. The community, which regarded the tree as a significant landmark, refused to simply leave it. Rods and brackets were used to support the tree. To this day it still stands as a landmark, acting as a welcome sign to visitors of the Crowsnest Pass and as a symbol of home for area residents.

The leafless, gnarled tree simply needed to be photographed (if you are also a shutter-bug you will understand). As I explored the area photographing the tree from different angles, I next stumbled upon one of the heritage markers erected by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. You have all probably seen them – large blue signs located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. This sign provides context for the Burmis Tree.

Assuming that the Burmis Tree is perhaps one of the most photographed trees in all of Alberta, I did a quick search on Flickr. Check out some of the photos. 

Do you have a photo of the Burmis Tree that you would like to share with readers of RETROactive? If so, email it to me at albertahistoricplaces@gov.ab.ca by June 10, 2012 with a completed copy of the Government of Alberta’s Photograph, Video, Name and Quotation Release Form. A future blog post will feature the submissions.

 Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Cheese Please!

You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Come, travel Alberta and read a featured heritage marker:

Alberta’s First Cheese Factory

When the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived at Fort Calgary in 1883, the cattle industry in the region was given a great boost. The CPR also made it possible for homesteaders to settle in the foothills, and a number of small mixed farming operations developed in addition to the large cattle ranches. One of the first homesteads in Springbank was begun by Ebenezer Healy.

Alberta's First Cheese FactoryHealy was a Nova Scotian who had learned the dairy business on his family’s farm in the Annapolis Valley. He traveled to Winnipeg in 1882, and the following year filed for a homestead north of Regina. Drought conditions there ruined his crops and helped persuade him to move further west to the foothills. Here he filed for another homestead where he could concentrate exclusively on raising cattle.

With Calgary’s growing population, Healy decided that the market for dairy products could be expanded to include cheese in addition to milk, cream and butter. With the co-operation of his neighbours, he decided to build a cheese factory and sent away for the equipment necessary to process the milk from 300 cows. In July 1888, he hauled his first shipment of cheese to the I.G. Baker store in Calgary where it retailed for 20 cents a pound. By 1890 his cheese factory produced 10 tons of cheese. This success encouraged the construction of other cheese factories in the area. Cheese production soon became a viable local industry in the southern foothills.

Heritage Marker Location 

South side of Highway 1, one kilometre west of Highway 22.

Alberta Register of Historic Places

If you would like to read more about Alberta’s dairy industry check out these Provincial Historic Resources on the Alberta Register of Historic Places:

Donalda Creamery, Donalda AB

Markerville Creamery, Markerville AB

Prepared by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Did you know… ?

Did you know that the discovery of oil near Turner Valley, in 1914, resulted in the first major oil boom in western Canada? When returning from a business trip in southern Alberta I stopped at the Turner Valley Oil Field heritage marker and learned about the birth of Alberta’s oil industry.

To learn more, check out the video below or scroll down to read the heritage marker text.


Heritage marker location: on the west side of Highway 22, north of the Town of Turner Valley.

Learn about other aspects of Alberta’s heritage in the Turner Valley area – explore the Alberta Register of Historic Places and read about various Provincial Historic Resources:

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

 

Heritage marker text:

Alberta’s History: Turner Valley Oil Field 

In the nearby town of Turner Valley is the discovery well of the first major oil and gas field in Alberta, drilled by Calgary Petroleum Products. Dingman No. 1, named after a major stockholder, blew in on May 14, 1914. The well produced large quantities of gas and light oil and began Alberta’s first oil boom. With the boom came a flood of stock speculation, but by late that summer the boom had collapsed. Many new oil companies had proven fraudulent, other wells were disappointing, and soon the investment capital that was needed for more development was focused on the war effort instead. 

The second boom began in 1924 with the Royalite No. 4 well owned by Imperial Oil. Royalite No. 4 produced even more of the light-gravity oil called naptha than the discovery well, but was not deep enough to reach the crude oil below. In June 1936, a new well discovered extensive oil deposits at 2,081 metres. This well, called Royalties No. 1, produced almost 1,000 barrels of oil a day, reviving interest in oil exploration in the field. By late 1936 the whole Turner Valley field was producing about 10,000 barrels per day. 

From 1914 to 1947, Turner Valley produced nearly all of Alberta’s petroleum, and it remained Canada’s most important oil field from 1925 until the discovery of oil south of Edmonton, near Leduc, in 1947.

Video Debut!

You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Have you ever stopped to read one? At the end of April I was attending meetings in the Town of Pincher Creek and came across a heritage marker telling the story of Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal. I stopped, curious to learn about an aspect of Alberta’s history. With camera in hand, I decided to also produce an impromptu video blog post. Please watch and enjoy (but bare in mind that my videography skills require some fine tuning).


Heritage marker location: east side of Highway 6, four kilometers south of the Town of Pincher Creek.

Learn more about Alberta’s heritage in the Pincher Creek area: explore the Alberta Register of Historic Places

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer Click here to read the Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal heritage marker text

Heritage Markers tell Alberta’s History

You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Come, travel Alberta and read a featured heritage marker:

Japanese Settlement

Most of the first Japanese to reach Alberta were contract or temporary workers on railway and irrigation projects. Others worked in the sugar beet fields near Raymond. By 1906, however, a few Japanese had settled permanently in Alberta. The largest early Japanese settlements in Alberta were at Redwater, Raymond and Hardieville, a mining community north of Lethbridge. After 1914, some Japanese women joined their husbands in Alberta, though the community remained very small. At the outbreak of World War II there were just 540 Japanese Canadians living in Alberta.

The war transformed the Japanese community in Alberta. In 1942, people of Japanese descent were prevented from living within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the Pacific coast. Many were forced into internment camps or to resettle in southern Alberta. After the war, some returned to British Columbia, but others stayed. Together with new post-war immigrants from Japan, they have become one of Alberta’s most dynamic cultural communities.

This heritage marker is located west of Raymond on the north side of Highway 52, 1.1km west of Highway 844.

If visiting Raymond you might like to also check out the Raymond Buddhist Church. It is a Provincial Historic Resource listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.